Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The role of the young adult in the church

Last week I asked the question: "What do you think the role of the young adult in the Church is?" I feel it is only fair that I answer that question myself.

The simple one sentence answer would be that the role of the young adult in the Church is the same as any other member of the church. However, what does that actually mean?

Young adult ministry is, I would say, as complicated as young adults are. We are in a transitional time of life, transient, at varying stages (single, dating, engaged, married, parents) in our age range, hard to nail down, and yes, even non-committal. Hmm those sound slightly negative... We are allow extremely enthusiastic, full or potential and full of energy. So how do you minister to us?

I agree with Sarah that it's easy for us to feel misplaced. Part of my desire to engage in young adult ministry is that very fact. I've often struggled with figuring out where I belong as a young adult. I'm so glad she brought up the point of us using our gifts and being a blessing to others. Isn't that the call of a Christian. How many times have we read or heard a sermon on 1 Corinthians 12, specfically verse 12 (which says, "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ")? And verse 27, "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." How exciting to be a part of the body of Christ, to each have a God given gift to use to glorify Him and bless the church! (Thanks Tim and Justin for your discussion on this as well :))

I'm also exciting that Jordan shared that we each need a Paul, Jonathan and Timothy in our life. How true! And all three can be found in our congregation. Do you have relationships like that in your life? Are you willing to invest in those kinds of relationships? Do you desire to have those relationships in you life?
My heart and passion for young adults is to see a growing movement in the church to seek to invest in and utilize our age group while at the same time young adults are also seeking to invest in the church and intentionally striving to be active members of their congregation.
I would love to hear your continued thoughts on this topic. God's blessings on your week!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

God's Power; Not Human Wisdom

Have you ever tried to explain some truth of God's Word to someone who is not a Christian?  It's impossible isn't it?  You could sit there and give them every plausible peice of wisdom you have in order to try and persuade them to believe you but it will not happen unless the Spirit of God opens their heart and mind to understand the things of God.  I Corinthians 2:14 says, "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned."  It's impossible to use human wisdom to teach things which come from above.

This is the reason that Paul says that he did not originally come to the Corinthians with "lofty speech or wisdom." (I Cor. 2:1).  Instead he spoke to them "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." (I Cor. 2:4)  "Why?" you may ask, so that their "faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."  Paul knew that it was better for them to be convinced by the Holy Spirit and God's power than it was forthem to be convinced by man's wisdom.  He did cme in giving a beautiful speech, using words and phrases that no one could understand, he spoke to them and let the Holy Spirit and God's power do the rest.  

I think it is important that we learn from this example of Paul.  If we talk to people using the knowledge of man, trying to convince them that they need to become a Christian in some way or another, it more than likely will not work, and if by chance it does, where will there hope lie, in the wisdom of men, or in the power of God?  

It's easy together frustrated when talking to those who are not spiritually minded about the things of God, especially, when you care about them, or think they already ought to know the things you are talking to them about, but we must, by the power of God, remember that it is He who will ultimately do the convincing and we just continue to share as Paul did, "demonstration of the Spirit and of power." (I Cor. 2:4)  

Monday, June 28, 2010

Content . . . to be Discontent?

Do you ever wish that you were a part of something bigger? Something grander? Something that when people looked at it would say, "Woah! Praise the Lord! Now that's a group of people truly busy about their Father's business!"

I know I do.

A couple of weeks ago, at the AFLC Annual Conference, as I heard Pastor Nash's report on the Home Missions department, I began to feel this way. You see, part of my heart belongs to Home Missions. Not because I served on a Barnabas team and was forced to give part of my heart over to P. Nash, but because I served on a Barnabas team and saw the true love, passion, and desire of those new churches. Thinking about Home Missions congregations gets me excited . . . I remember the incredible people I met while traveling the Northeast portion of America, I remember their desire to grow, their willingness to serve at whatever cost to bring others to Jesus, and I want to go back.

Then, I look at where I am, and get a little discouraged. Maybe because it's so ordinary; it's so everyday. As I have dealt with these issues of surging excitement and discouragements, I have realized how discontent I am. And to be quite honest, I think I could be discontent anywhere, even if I was serving a Home Missions congregation. All too often, I think I am looking forward to the next thing, waiting to see what the Lord is going to do next. The problem? I'm not there, in the future, I'm here, in the now.

I was quite challenged by Paul's words to the Philippians as I mulled over this contentment issue: "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along in humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11-13)

We often hear the "all things through Him who strengthens me" verse, but I don't think we often hear it in the correct context. Paul claimed contentment not because of anything he could do on his own, but it was through Christ he found contentment. So apart from Christ, I'm not going to be content anywhere. I'll always be waiting and watching for the next thing if I don't have my heart fixed on Jesus. Once my heart is truly fixed upon Him and His will . . . then I'll be content. Content to stay where He wants me to stay, content to go where He wants me to go, and content to do it in HIS timing, not my own.

Lord, make me content where You have placed me. May I become content through You; give me strength to humbly serve me wherever You lead me. Make me more like Jesus, I pray.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"L" is for the way you look at me?

Have you ever pondered what it means to love someone? I mean, really think about it? Not in the mushy gushy sense, but in a true, God honoring manner? This has been on my heart a lot lately, so I thought I'd share what I've been learning.

I was blessed to attend a Worship Seminar with Tom Kraueter this past weekend and one of my favorite quotes from the day was, "You cannot separate the Horizontal from the Vertical". In short, this means that God has so closely tied Himself to His people that how we relate to them is really how we relate to God. Tom used the example that when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment is (Matthew 22:36-39) He responded by giving two: love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. The words to follow show the connection, "the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself."

Many times throughout the Word, God declares that we are to love those around us. In Matthew 25:35-40 Jesus describes that when we have compassion for those in need and showing love, we are really honoring the Lord. Again, in Romans 15:2 it says, "Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up." and Romans 12:10, "Love one another with brotherly affection. outdo one another in showing honor." Are you catching a theme?

1 Corinthians 13 is well known for being the "love chapter" of the Bible, as it gives us a clear definition of what true love looks like. "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." -verses 4-8a. The part that I italicized has stood out to me this week, as God has been teaching me that love is unselfish.

What does it mean to be unselfish? The dictionary's definition of it states: altruistic, which means "concerned for or devoted to the welfare of others". By putting others before us, we are loving them with the Love that Christ left as an example for us. The ultimate display of love was on Calvary, and we are called to love that same way. While I'm not insisting that you go die your for family and friends, I believe God is calling us to love them in the same unselfish way that Christ did for us.

Read Philippians 2:1-11 and see for yourself!

Friday, June 25, 2010


God has lately been pointing me out in so many situations to die to self and to live my life in His power and strength. I feel that I never understand what that means, but I keep striving to know Him and pray that someday I will understand in some tiny way.

God really spoke to me though this quote by Jim Elliot that I came across, and I wanted to share it with all of you. If we lived this way, if our generation in America, and around the world, would be willing step out in the boldness and power of God, what a world of difference there would be!

"We are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power the Twentieth Century does not reckon with.

But we are "harmless," and therefore unharmed. We are spiritual pacifists, non-militants, conscientious objectors in this battle-to-the-death with principalities and powers in high places.

Meekness must be had for contact with men, but brass, outspoken boldness is required to take part in the comradeship of the Cross.

We are "sideliners" -- coaching and criticizing the real wrestlers while content to sit by and leave the enemies of God unchallenged.

The world cannot hate us, we are too much like its own.

Oh that God would make us dangerous!"

--Jim Elliot

This quote, though written a few years ago, is so true today, and we can learn and be challenged so much from those before us!

I pray that we as Followers of Christ would live everyday without any regrets, that we would be "dangerous" in the Power of God, given the ability in Christ and the Holy Spirit!

If we live for some One that is so uncommon or unusual compared to the world, how can our lives be anything but uncommon to the world?? Man, that is something that I need to think about and really apply to my life!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cold Press

So I'm sitting in a coffee shop again for the first time. With the temperature outside the window rising like a cake in a bundt pan, I need something cool and refreshing. I have recently found the joys of cold press coffee. With summer in full swing, I have found myself enjoying this refreshing drink more than I ever imagined I would. I'm more of a cold morning, hot cup of coffee guy, but sometimes life isn't what I want.

I always thought summer school was for delinquents. This was before I registered, bought the book, and spent countless hours inside drinking cold coffee this summer. Now I am not a delinquent, but I am trying to get a college degree someday. So after graduating from AFLBS in late May, my life got a little crazy - independently studying astronomy, trying to maintain healthy relationships with friends, family, and kids in ministry, and also making an effort to enjoy some of God's beautiful Midwestern creation.

The words "cold" and "press" are used to describe a nice summer drink, but recently those two words could describe my life. This could be an exaggeration, but it sure does sound good. With the temperatures soaring like an eagle and the humidity making me sweat like a beagle, I have found myself longing to be elsewhere. There have been days I haven't been content. Sometimes my conversations seem meaningless and I don't feel like I am growing. I admit that I say "Yes" to more things than I should sometimes. My "To Do" list gets longer and longer. The number of hours in the day stays the same. I feel pressure from my boss, my friends, and myself. The double-edged sword that makes life great and makes life miserable is the fact that I like to make people happy.

When it comes down to it, God loves me regardless. Responsibility will press in, my heart may feel cold, but God will always be there. I have a hard time remembering this on hot summer days, when I sit inside staring out at the world, drinking cold coffee while I wade through the depths of an online science class. My pride gets in the way, and I forget that it's not all about me. But in all of this, God has a great way of bringing me back close to him ...

In 1 Peter 5 it says … 5Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
"God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble."[a] 6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

If you read anything in this post, read that passage from 1 Peter. That is what life is all about. God's grace is real and life changing. It has changed my life today, and I will gladly sit next to the window, drinking cold press coffee while studying the phases of the moon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Young Adults Dinner and Forum Recap

Friday June 18th saw 20 young adults from across the nation (ok, mainly Minnesota) gathered together for our Young Adults Dinner and Forum. Yep, forum is a fancy word, oooo, for discussion and we are using it. Who knows this could possibly turn into an annual event.

Pastor Jason Holt shared from his time as a young adult and those who had impacted him during that time in his life. He also shared a from a great passage of scripture, which I unfortunatley have to admit I cannot remember! (so if you were there and remember... please share) Pastor Holt used a word that stood out: Insolating. Insolating means to expose to sunlight. He asked us how we seek out times of insolating in our young adult walk. What a great question, how do I purposfully exposed myself to God's light? The second question was, How do we invest in the unsaved? The word intentional came up in our discussion and we asked ourselves if we were intentionally making and finding time to witness. Number three, instead of a question, was a time of prayer. What a blessing to go around our table and pray for one another.

One question we asked this group in a survey and the question I will leave with you is:
1. What do you think the role of the young adult in the Church is?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Ultimate Thirst Quencher

I have been thinking a lot lately about what Jesus meant when He said to the Samaritan woman that He talked to at that famous well scene.  One phrase in particular has kept coming back to my mind...more or less anyway.  Not the exact quote, but the idea that He shares in what He says.  This is what He says, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again."  (John 4:13,14a ESV). 

Have you ever been really thirsty?  So thirsty that you would drink anything, to a reasonable degree, that you could find?  I don't think I know what it is like to be really, really thirsty, like to the point of death or something but I know that when I get thirsty I can feel a difference in my body and know that I need to rehydrate.  Often times I will be act like an idiot and reach for something that I know won't quench my thirst and will actually only make me more thirsty in the end, thus making my thirsting body worse off than it was before and never finding the satisfaction that it needs.  There is only one thing that will truly rehydrate my body and leave it feeling satisfied and that is water.

I find that it's pretty close to the same thing in our spiritual lives.  Often we do the exact same thing that the Samaritan woman did.  She was trying to find satisfaction for her soul, trying to fill up the longing, the thirst, with men.  She had been married many times and when Jesus talked with her was living with a man who was not her husband.  She was hoping the men, maybe the sex, the intimacy, the relationships would somehow fill her, but they didn't.  Sounds familiar, huh?  We may not do it the exact same way that the SamarItan woman did, but I fear we all do or at least have, tried to fill up the longing, the thirsting, in our souls with something other than the One thing which can truly satisfy us.  Think about it.  I know I have and still try to from time to time in my own life, but God has been showing me lately that Christ truly is the only thing that can satisfy the thirst in my soul.  That's what Jesus told the woman and the same is true for us today too.

The next time you sense your soul getting a little thirsty I would encourage you to spend some time with Christ and instead of doing something you know won't satisfy you (in fact will make you even feel worse than you already did) drink of the Living Water that will well up to eternal life within you.   

Monday, June 21, 2010

How would you like your change?

I love to have fun. I love to be with people that I love. So far, June has been great to me in both regards.

For the first nine days of the month, I was off traveling the country . . . or at least a small portion of it. I came home for four days, working at the all-exciting lumberyard for three of them; and then again packed up and headed east to Minneapolis. In contrast to my previous week's stay in Minneapolis totaling less than 24 hours, this week I was in the Cities for nearly four whole days! It was wonderful. The Annual Conference has the unique ability to draw people in from all across the country: Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Dakota!, Northern Minnesota . . . What a sweet, wonderful time of fellowship the Annual Conference allowed.

As I was relishing in the fact that I had so many close friends in such close proximity, as I was rejoicing in the encouragement I had received from some blessed people, I couldn't help but wish that it didn't all have to end. Why couldn't we all just stay there? Why did Ed and Mary have to go back to Reading? Why did Jordan and I have to head home to Beulah? Why couldn't Emily, Tim, Jeremy, and Lindsey just come with us? Ugh. Growing up - change - is hard.

I had similar thoughts to this when I graduated from AFLBS and the group of friends I hung out with, including my older brother, all seemed to disperse to different parts of the country (and world!). Florida, Iraq, California, South Dakota, North Dakota, Northern Minnesota . . . Again, ugh. Growing up - change - is hard.

During such struggles, I am reminded of a phrase hanging on one of those yearbook posters in Heritage Hall at AFLBS: "Coming to learn, leaving to serve". When Jesus commissioned His disciples, He didn't allow them to stay comfortably in one place, all twelve of them serving the Lord together. Instead, He told them to "'Go therefore and make disciples of ALL nations'" (Matthew 28:19, emphasis added). Before His ascension, He said to them, "'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth'" (Acts 1:8, emphasis added). As you read through the beginnings of the early church in the book of Acts, you'll find that the disciples spread out to share the Gospel.

Ugh. It's true. Growing up, change, leaving all that is normal and comfortable to us, is not an easy process. But thankfully, as we disperse from these "home bases" of friends, family and comfort, we are not alone. When Jesus commissioned His disciples, He promised to be with them, and He is with us as well: "'I am with you always, even to the end of the age'" (Matthew 28:20), "So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed" (Mark 16:19-20).

It may be difficult to do, but may we draw on the strength of the Lord to faithfully do His will and share the Good News that He has given to us!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wherever He may go!

Do you remember playing Following the Leader when you were younger?

I'm a nanny for three amazing little girls and we do everything from blowing bubbles to playing barbies. One on such day the two four year olds and I were on a bike ride on our way to the park but I didn't know where it was, so one of the twins took the lead and the other started singing Following the Leader. However, the leader was bringing us to a busy street and her faithful follower was becoming nervous. The leader then exclaimed, "I'm the leader, I know where we're going. I won't let anything bad happen to you!"

This was such a beautiful picture of our relationship with Christ. In these years of transition in most of our lives we are faced with uncertainty for the future. With so much changing, the future can seem dangerous, but God's Word tells us over and over again to trust God and that He will never leave us, nor forsake us. Joshua 1:9 says "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened; do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go".

God, much like my little four year old, is is charge and He knows what He's doing. He also tells us multiple times that He won't let anything bad happen. Don't misunderstand me please, this does not mean that we won't encounter trials in our lives- in fact, we're promised hard times because we are followers- it's just that He's already been there and knows where to lead us.

Proverbs 19:21 says, "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand". When we can't see what's down the path in our lives, we can rest in the fact that God is the best Leader the world has or ever will know!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dingo Boots

I love Christmas parties. One extremely special Christmas party took place when I was in grade 11. As my buddy Zach and I were driving to this wonderful event, we ran over a cat. This cat was already dead, bloated, and was frozen solid on the snowy road. After the laughter subsided, we walked into the joyous scene of cookies, coffee, hot dogs roasting in the fire place, and more people than the fire code permitted. Were we in for a treat!

At the door stood a man with voice that pierced the air. His greetings were full volume, in your face, and easily accepted. This man's name was Clay Binford. Today, I call him "Uncle Clay."

I had heard a lot about Clay from his best friend Seth (see last week's post) but this was my first face-to-face encounter with him. After introductions and high fives, Zach and I shared the story of the frozen, dead cat with Clay. First impressions really do count.

Fast forward a couple months. One day after school, Clay asks me, "Hey Tim! Do you wanna mountain bike with me this summer?!" "Heck yes I do!" was my reply, "But I don't have a mountain bike." Clay proceeds to offer me his "old junker sitting in the garage" and I willingly accept his generous gift.

Clay and I (along with many other characters) started pedaling bikes up and down mountains, careening through trees, splashing in puddles, and laughing a lot ever since then. Thursday nights after work, we'd head to the trail with some friends, ride our hearts out, and learn about life together.

Mountain biking was just a simple tool that Clay used to disciple me. With a common interest, we had something to do every week, and from there our relationship grew. We started reading the Bible together on Friday mornings. Now that I think of it, Clay tricked me into all this ...

Clay really helped me see what unconditional love looks like. Jesus is the perfect example of this and Clay pointed me to Jesus to see that when I sin again and again, Jesus is there with open arms welcoming me back to His side. When life sucks, people hurt us, or it just seems like nothing is going right - Jesus is still there loving us through it all.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An Answer

Even though I was already late today with my post it has come to be that I am even later than I thought I was going to be due to a small problem that I encountered tonight.  I was sitting on my hide-a-bed tonight playing a game, just wasting time until I began to write and lo and behold I spotted a mole, which caused me some concern; so I spent the better part of the next two hours hunting that thing down.  Yes, I am glad to say that I caught it and set it free into the great unknown of the backyard.  I did draw a little blood on it with the end of a broom handle, which I am hoping it will have a full recovery from. 

Onward now to the task at hand.  

A couple of weeks ago asked a question: "What is the great work of the saints?"  I received four answers but am going to only focus on one of them tonight: "Prayer."  If you would like to take a look at the other answers you will find them under the blog heading "A Question" on 7/1.  

Prayer is the answer I was looking for and maybe you will disagree with me, and that's fine, but I want us to think about this for awhile.  God gives many commands throughout Scripture, some of which were mentioned in the other answers, and it may seem that one of those ought to take precedence over prayer, but I am inclined to say that the other things that were mentioned are not able to be done, as God would have them be, without prayer.

Consider this, if you will.  Just before the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray they had seen Him do some marvelous things and they recognized that prayer was a vital part of the power in His earthly ministry; so they said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray."  What follows is the Lord's Prayer.

Del Tackett, in the Focus on the Family series The Truth Project, in the opening session, says something along the lines of if he knew how closely God was listening to our prayers how often he would find himself praying.

The Apostle says to, "Pray contiually."

Prayer is that vital source of communication that God has given to us to stay in communion with Him.  Without prayer, where would we be?

I have heard it said that intercessory prayer could very well be one of the greatest works that Christians have been given and I wholeheartedly agree.  We can tell someone about Christ until we're blue in the face, but unless the Holy Spirit changes their heart our words fall stone.  God, though, listens to the cries of His children and does indeed answer our prayers.  How many stories have you heard of someone praying for a lost person for years and years and seeing God answer their prayer by saving that person much later in life.  

It is through prayer that we come to know the heart of God and it is only through and by prayer that we are going to be able to know what He wants us to do and it through prayer that we are given the strength to carry on.  

There is much more that can be said about prayer, but I hope that my thoughts have at least given you something to think and reflect upon.          

By the way, I'm sorry I missed last week. I was camping and didn't get something written to have posted by someone else or something before I left.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Humble Service Unto Our God

9 days. 4 time zones. 3,594 miles.
Five hour airport delays. An angry clown glaring through the car window. Mr. Bendo. Cacti.
Coffee - lots and lots of coffee. Ministry with Mexicans.

That's a small, brief summation of June's beginnings in my life. The trip took me to some of my favorite places in the country to see some of my favorite people. Over the course of those nine days, only three did not consist of traveling by either plane or by car.

Smack dab in the middle of all this fun and adventure, I was challenged by the words of Jesus in John 13. Listen to what He tells His disciples after washing their feet, "'You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.'" (John 13:13-15, 17)

Probably a familiar story and image to many of us. Passover meal, Jesus' last supper with His disciples before His crucifixion. The humble, perfect Jesus washing the feet of His sinful disciples. But wait. Stop and think about that a little bit more, a little bit deeper for just a moment.

First of all: the God of the universe becoming man. Laying aside all His privileges as the Son of God to dwell among sinful, disgusting man. Second: knowing these people would soon betray Him and abandon Him, He kneels down to wash their dirty, dusty feet. Kind of a neat image of what He did for us by dying on the cross, eh?

The Lord, the Teacher. Washing the feet of His disciples. An example that has been left for us to follow. Something we may know; something we may have often heard. But how often do we do such acts of humility? Jesus didn't say it was enough to simply know. He said that if we do them, we are blessed.

So, whose feet have you washed lately? Humble acts of service appear in many forms and in many ways. Mowing your neighbor's lawn. Baking cookies for the shut-ins. Visiting the nursing home. Babysitting for free.

Go serve the Lord. But don't do it for yourself. Do it all for the glory of our great God and Savior.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Last week I was weeding a garden and the dislike of all the thistles made me think, and I realized thistles are a lot like something we don't like to talk about as often as we should.

They were all different sizes with different roots, but they all hurt when approached. From afar they didn't do much harm; some of them blended in with the flowers, some produced flowers of their own to match those around it, and some hid underneath everything else. My first thought was that the big thistles that poked out from the flowers were the only ones, so I spent most of my energy and time removing those. However, I soon found that these were only a few of the thistles that crowded the garden. There were many that became part of the flower to first sight. There were also many underneath that were just starting to sprout. I removed all the big ones first, then the ones in the flowers, and considered leaving the small ones because they weren't visible to others. I soon realized that if these weeds were left, they would only grow to be as big as the other ones and it would be a never-ending cycle.

Any idea what this symbolized to me? You guessed it, sin. There are many times in the Bible that sin is compared to weeds, thorns, and thistles. In Luke 8 Jesus tells the parable of the sower, and describes what happens when seeds fall into different types of ground. In verse 7 it says that the thorns choked the plants and killed them. Much like this, sin chokes our lives and ruins all the possibility of bringing forth fruit.

Along with the big thistles with big roots, the weeds that blended into the garden also made a difference. While not easily seen from the outside, they still threaten the lives of those around them. The small thistles also made a large impact, as they were completely secret and hidden to the outside, but if given the opportunity to grow they would kill the lives of plants around them as well. In the same way, small sins may not seem important and we leave them to deal with later, but if we don't take care of them when the thorns are small, they're just going to get harder to remove from our life because the roots take up permanent residence in the garden of our life.

As I was weeding the garden I recalled that many times I don't weed my own life. Would our garden be healthier, happier, more fruitful if we took the time to remove the thistles that are threatening all the good in our lives?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hey guys
I went to Ribfest last night. Quite possibly the best thing to come out of North Dakota. The ribs were delicious, and the music was pretty good as well. Now you might be asking, where is Matt going with this? The answer: I don't know. Eve was created from one of Adam's ribs, so there's a biblical reference right there. Also, they mention feasting in the Bible, and roasting fattened calves and whatnot, so I think ribs would fall into that category. So that means that the Bible tells us to go to Ribfest, right? (I just figured out where I'm going with this.) Wrong. The point of all that, as I have now figured out, is that people try to spin the Bible to mean what they want it to mean, and we have to be on the lookout for tricks like that. One example that pops to mind is how people will use the Bible to justify their drinking (read: overdrinking). They say things to the effect of people in the Bible drank all the time, and even Jesus drank wine. Yep, that is true. However, the Bible specifically warns against drunkenness (Galatians 5:21, for one; a google search will turn up tons of others) and to what drunkenness will lead - things like error, strife, poverty, etc. There are many other examples out there of things people try to justify by twisting the Bible. Just remember to always look it up for yourself, and everything needs to be taken in context.
Until next week,

Friday, June 11, 2010


"For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His."

--2 Chronicles 16:9

He is seeking to strengthen us, to support us. He wants us to be apart of His work.

Requirement: to be willing.

Are our hearts completely His?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

7 pm is CST

So here's the deal ...

First impressions are a big deal. Bad first impressions are a bad deal. For some people, first impressions are beneficial, and for others they are a haunting reminder of the power of words. My first impression of this goatee wearing, Bible carrying, balding youth leader guy was great - where others saw him as blunt and insensitive - I saw honesty, passion, humor, and a desire to connect with real people in a real way. Seth Schmautz was the name of this guy helping establish the ministry of Young Life in Kalispell.

As a sophomore at Flathead High School, Seth and I started to build a friendship that would rival the likes of Siskel & Ebert, Lenon & McCartney, Belushi & Ackroyd, Simon & Garfunkel, Edmund Hillary & Tenzing Norgay, James & John, and of course, Abercrombie & Fitch. Over the past seven years, Seth and I have climbed a few mountains, traveled thousands of miles, read a couple books, eaten hundreds of hamburgers, and drank gallons of coffee together. Now is this a recipe for a successful friendship? I would argue yes, but it could also be a recipe for disaster.

Sometimes Seth unintentionally teaches me things that will never benefit my life in any way shape or form. (eg. consistently being late for everything) Seth has taught me other habits, lessons, activities, skills, and ways of living that will forever be a part of who I am. I can only give God credit for the things Seth has shown me in this life. It is through the Holy Spirit that Seth's words, actions, and listening ears have brought me to the feet of Jesus time and time again.

5 things Seth Schmautz threw into my world that have helped me stay alive.

Climb Mountains - Literally and figuratively. There's nothing like standing on top of a mountain after carrying yourself to the top only to ski as fast as possible to the bottom. To do this you've got to be prepared, work hard, and enjoy the time you have on the way up, standing on top enjoying the view, and as you go down. Sometimes God gives you a "mountain top experience" but that's not everyday reality. Whether you're at the top enjoying the view, falling to the bottom, or kicking your toes on the way up; there is opportunity to thank God and remember that He is in control.

Appreciate the Arts - Read books. Look at pictures. Listen to music. Watch movies. Discuss the meaning, message, and pointlessness behind these things. Make your own art. Learn new songs on the guitar. Rework old songs. Take pictures. Make yellow snow. Use discretion when recommending art to other people. Use art to point others to Jesus. Sing songs that have the "La La La" part repeating after every chorus. Use a journal to keep your thoughts from sneaking out your ears. Maps are marvelous.

Windshield Time - Long road trips are valuable time to talk to God, to friends, or talk to yourself. Be silent. Listening to new music is often best when watching the mile markers fly by at incredible speeds. Carry duct tape. Watch bugs splatter on glass. Brainstorm t-shirt ideas. Think of new catch phrases. If you are tired, pull over and sleep - wherever you are. Drive fast and take chances.

Communicate Creatively - People like to communicate with each other. We use cell phones, email, letters, instant messaging, coffee shops, Facebook, restaurants, and Skype. With God we use Sunday morning, meal time, and our quiet time. Just what does it mean to worship? How do we communicate with our Creator? Is our way of communicating with God as diverse as the way we connect with our friends?

Real Relationships - First with God. Second with the people around me. Am I open and honest? Do I want to grow deeper, learn more, and have adventures? How do these relationships work? Am I bored? Have I read the love letter from the one who has always been interested in me?

Think about these things. When you're done, talk to someone about it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I'm Doing It Again

I'm promoting our Young Adult Dinner and Forum on here again and here's why:

I want to see the Young Adult generation explode! No, I don't mean blow up. I mean come alive, get fired up, be contagious for Christ, thriving and active in their faith walk on this earth.

I know it's just a start, but that's the point to get something started.

So if you are in the Twin Cities next Friday evening I would strongly encourage you to come!

Our Special Guest Speaker and Director of Youth Ministries Pastor Jason Holt will be there to Emcee as we dive into our Young Adult world, connect with one another, eat some awesome food from Sweet Taste of Italy together and have some rockin discussions at our tables.

The Skinny:

When? Friday, June 18th at 6:00 PM

Where? AFLC Seminary Chapel Dining Hall

Why? A connection time for those in the young adult season of life

Who? You!

How Much? $5

RSVP to by NOON June 16, 2010

Hoping to see you there,
Naomi Andrews
Youth Ministries Associate

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hip Hip Hip-o-pot-a-mos!

You all know the Hippo song, right? "In the beginning God made the sea, and the forest filled with trees..." This is one of my favorite songs ever, and just so happens to be my 4 year old nephew's favorite song as well! Last week I spent a few days with my family and every single day my nephew would beg me to sing the song while he danced. I love singing little kid songs, but I seldom pay attention to the words. As I was singing it one day I actually thought about what I was singing, and realized it was a song of praise!

How often do we take for granted that God created everything that we see? The birds, trees, water, sun, everything! While in California, we went to the Aquarium in Monterey and was astonished at all the complex, small, gorgeous animals that our Lord created to give us a better understanding of His beauty. This is a picture of one of the jellyfish, my favorite exhibit:

In Genesis 1:27 it states that God created us in the image of Himself. And in 1 Corinthians 6:19 it says,"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body"

We were created in God's image! God's beauty is everywhere, especially within each of us. Today I challenge all of you to find God's beauty in the simple things, you will be astonished at how easy it is to praise our Lord when you truly appreciate the little things that He has blessed us with!

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Hey guys
So in sunny Pelican Rapids, it's our high school graduation this week. So I'm gonna do a quick post here - cause I know I'm late, sorry - about moving on. To college, specifically. So for any recent high school graduates reading this... I'm sure you've all heard the horror stories about the insane number of kids who go to college and "lose" their faith. This is true - partly. But the good news is, there is an easy way around it, and that is called being proactive. So wherever you are going to school this fall, find a church nearby that you would be able to attend. If there is somebody you know at that school, ask them where they go. Doing this before you go to school, and therefore are way too busy to figure out things like this, is going to really help you out as you try to settle into a new area. The second thing I'll touch on is getting involved with a campus group. Things like Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) or FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) are great places to start. As an added bonus, it'll really help you to meet like-minded people, which will also help you keep the faith. So that's my brief post for this week, probably more to come on this topic later in the summer.
Until next week,

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I have lived the majority of my 22 short years in one of the most beautiful places on this planet - Kalispell, MT. The entire human population of of Montana (aka "Big Sky Country") does not exceed the number of cows, but the people you find are something else.

Since it's baseball season and I'm in the land of "Twins Win!" ... I will use a baseball analogy. When you're at a baseball game and you are eating excessive amounts of peanuts, only one thing is better than a home run - finding 3 nuts in one shell! This rarely happens, but when it does I know most people jump for joy, yell and scream, and most likely hug complete strangers. It is the best thing about baseball. Period. Meeting people in Montana is the same way. You find more "3 nuts in a shell" type people than anywhere in the U.S.A.

I've learned that Montana and Minnesota have been facilitating an unofficial exchange program. The higher education in Minnesota brings Montanans to colleges throughout the land o' lakes and the mountains and adventure bring Minnesotans to Montana. Ain't that swell?!

Near the turn of the millennium - when the Backstreet Boys were 'larger than life,' my clothes were kind of cool, and we were all ten years younger - Minnesota blessed the state of Montana with a man by the name of Jim Bjork.

Jimmy B hails from Fergus Falls, MN where he was the Young Life Area Director for many years. God opened up the doors for Jim and his family to come to the Flathead Valley and bring the message of Christ to the local high schools. Jim's unique gift of being able to do absolutely everything (except text message) has impacted the lives of hundreds, probably thousands of teenagers in the past few years.

I'll never forget learning that my Ford Bronco II had a carburetor, not fuel injection, and that a car can't have both at the same time. (This was after Jim let me try to convince him that it was fuel injected with a carburetor.) Bjork knows how to fix just about everything, and if he doesn't know how, he'll make something up and you'll think he knows what he's doing. Jim has a fleet of cars with quirks. Sometimes these quirks give tow truck drivers something to do. I will always remember that everyone you meet has a story, even the tow truck driver with fewer teeth than a turtle. That's enough said about his mechanical abilities.

Going places with Jim is always an adventure. New things to see, old things to talk about, funny stories to tell, and of course, new people to meet. Jim is good at reading name tags. Reading a name tag properly is like opening a book. Not only does Jim read name tags, but he opens books.

Every week I was blessed to open the Bible with Jim. Sitting at Sykes, home of 10 cent coffee and scrambled eggs wrapped around bread (aka French Toast), we talked about life, watched old people, and tuned in to "Jim's Bible Bullet." The Good News of Jesus permeates through the life of Jim Bjork and in at least one case (me) it has had an eternal impact.

Laying on the trampoline in the hot sun, discussing the plan for life on this earth, and dreaming of eternity at Jesus' feet; Jim tried to quote that Kansas song, but left me remembering this ...

"All we are, are farts in the wind."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Flash Mob

Do you know what I want? Zeal. Passion. Spark!

A spark may begin small but before you know it, it turns into a wild forest fire.

In James 3, in regards to taming the tongue, verse 5 says, “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”

While we know the damage a small spark can do, I also think a spark can start a revolution.

*Spoiler Alert*
If you do not know what a Flash Mob is, read no further until you have watched this video:… Otherwise I will ruin the surprise and you will not understand what I am talking about.

Watch Flash Mob Video

A Flash Mob begins with just one person, a spark, and gradually grows and grows until it is a massive crowd of people all united under one purpose. It is utterly amazing to see hundreds, even thousands of people come together under one goal.

A spark can be a good thing or a bad thing. Fire can cause a lot of damage, but what if we want a fire? What if we were a spark that set others on fire for God?

I love the lyrics to Toby Mac's "Catchafire (Whoopsi-Daisy)"

"We gonna catch a fire, catch a fire for God...

Spark to a flame, I'm flippin' up my game
I caught the fire and I'll never be the same
So unexplainable I can't contain it, son
And my retaining it would only be a shame

Heat, like the Kingston concrete
There ain't no stoppin' the fire
We're straight breakin' ground
There ain't no cooling this thing down
We burnin' up and keep'n it krunk as we know how
Hear me now people

Catch a fire let it burn within

Catch a fire let it burn for him"
Psalm 119:137-140 "Righteous are You, O LORD, And upright are Your judgments. You have commanded Your testimonies in righteousness And exceeding faithfulness. My zeal has consumed me, Because my adversaries have forgotten Your words. Your word is very pure, Therefore Your servant loves it."

We have the ability to be a spark, to be zealous for the Lord, to start a fire that burns for Him. My question to you is what kind of spark will you be? What kind of fire will you start?


A couple other awesome flash mobs:
Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution
Black Eyed Peas

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Question

What is the great work of the saints?

This is all that I have today. If you read this please take the time to make a comment below answering the question and next week I will continue on with the same theme.