Archives For Friendships

I am writing this from the Denver airport as my time to fly is upon me. I will give a few highlights from Day 3.

Wednesday Morning Mike Cope “Community in Lars and the Real GirlHebrews

  • It’s a movie about church, it begins in church and ends in church.
  • Hebrews
    • Imagining a world where we are not our own.
    • Somebody who watches for you.
    • The real test for community is the worst things you have done who is up there watching you.

Wednesday Morning Keynote Scot McKnight @ScotMcKnight “Did Jesus Found the Church?”

Major Idea: The church is naughty and the kingdom is nice

–       People today love the kingdom but are embarrassed by the church

–       The kingdom has come to mean “good things Christians do in the public sector usually involved in the political process.”

  • It has nothing to do with the church…people say
  • Social Justice? Where did we get this idea of social justice? There is one idea of justice in Scripture. Justice is connected to righteousness and justification.
  • Peace…compassion…walking from Cape Town to Alexandria raising money for water.

–       Kingdom has been flattened into an ethic: peace, justice.

–       “When we flatten kingdom to an ethic we deny the gospel.”

–       We have a young group of Christians whose kingdom theory has to do with changed political processes and are neglecting the church.

  • But…doing good in a society is a good thing.
  • Being compassionate is a good thing.
  • Working for peace in our world is a good thing.
  • But we do this because we are disciples of Jesus.

–       Good work versus Kingdom work

  • Did Ghandi do kingdom work?

–       The most profound act of kingdom work is when we celebrate Eucharist on Sunday morning.

–       “You cannot be committed to kingdom unless you are committed to the church and your commitment to the church is the sum total of your commitment to the kingdom.”

–       It is far too easy giving money to Rwanda and not to local people in the church.

–       Matthew 16:13-20

  • Their options to the question were not good enough.
  • Jesus was more than a prophet.  Prophetic Christianity is not enough.
  • The answer is that Jesus is messiah.
  • 1 Samuel 8—“They want a king because they want to be like other nations.”
    • Saul collapse
    • David…
    • Eventually they realize that Jesus is the king.
  • Peter labels Jesus with the right title. When the Messiah was said all the ideas came to completion: Temple, Torah, Land, Citizens, Command, Covenant.

–       When Jesus is the Messiah kingdom will always mean more than social justice.

–       Peter had no idea what Messiah really meant.

  • Messiah –> Kingdom –> Cross –> Resurrection –> Kingdom
  • Kingdom and social justice does not mix well.

–       Jesus came to establish a whole new social order. The ekklesia….the church.

–       There is an inextricable connection between kingdom and church.

–       Church is the only place kingdom work can occur because in the church is the only place where Jesus is king.

–       Kingdom never refers to social action in Scripture.

  • We have become intoxicated with social power and justice.

–       The kingdom is more than an ethic because Jesus is more than a prophet.

–       Kingdom work is about telling people about King Jesus.  Summoning people in the church as the place where God’s redemptive work is now alive.

Wednesday Afternoon Jon Acuff @JonAcuff “Our Relationship With the Gap”

Our job is hard because…

1)   We never feel it is over…

2)   There’s no manual for most of the things you do

3)   The success rate is really low for youth ministers

4)   You run into a period of life most people run from

  1. 1 out of every 4 girl will be raped by the time they graduate

5)   We don’t get to see the end of the song.

Three things of the challenges


–       It’s so easy to compare.

–       Never compare your beginning to somebody else’s middle.

–       Always play to the size of your heart not to the size of your audience.

–       If you tie what you do to the success/failure of it you will disappoint.

–       Measure your obedience not your results

–       God will not be handcuffed by my failures or unleashed by my successes.

2)   FEAR

–       It only bothers you when you do things that matter.

–       Voices?

  • You are not a youth minister…
  • You are woman.

–       The best way to fight those is to share those. Fears fears community.

–       The higher you climb in leadership the harder it is for you to be honest.

–       “Enough” is a slippery slope

–       If you ask “fear” when you will have enough experience it will be later.

–       Fear always says, “This is forever.”

–       What to do with voices

  • Write down the voice…
  • Answer it with truth
  • Share them


–       We are not good with criticism and compliments

  • Critic’s Math – 1 Insult + 1000 Compliments = 1 Insult
  • We have the ability to lose heart with insults.
  • Are you giving power to the very people you don’t need to give it to.

Those were the extent of my notes. I did not attend an afternoon class because I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Scot McKnight and Rusty Pettus for an hour and talk theology. Scot was gracious enough to extend some time just to talk and share some coffee. He even bought my coffee which he did not have to do. Before I close this blog I want to share something I did on my way back from Denver. I visited the Century 16 Theater in Aurora where 12 people were killed by James Holmes. Tragedy. Just like praying at Columbine I wanted to reflect and pray at the theater. To the left is a picture I took while driving to the theater.

Tomorrow I hope to reflect on the week with some implications.


Have you ever came across someone who made you extremely upset at the time and you wanted to smash their face in with a sledge-hammer but decided not?  We all have come across those types of people…odds are you have been that type of person.  What kept you from unleashing your inner Bruce Lee was giving them the benefit of the doubt.  In so many circumstances I find that giving someone the benefit of the doubt is the Christian thing to do.  This works especially with the sin of gossip.  “Have you heard that so and so was caught drinking at a local bar?”  You have two options but only one is helpful: A) Believe the information and spread it or, B) Give the person the benefit of the doubt and consider other options.  They may have been drinking in the bar but until you can confirm it and until you go up to the person to see what drove them to drinking you are better off giving them the benefit of the doubt.  I have compiled a list of what giving a person the benefit of the doubt will do.

  • The benefit of the doubt will keep you from anger.
  • The benefit of the doubt will keep you from holding a grudge.
  • The benefit of the doubt may create a ministry opportunity.
  • The benefit of the doubt will level the playing field (we all are broken right?).
  • The benefit of the doubt will keep you from sin.
  • The benefit of the doubt will help you understand people more.
  • The benefit of the doubt allows you to see as Jesus sees.
  • The benefit of the doubt keeps you from sweeping assumptions.
  • The benefit of the doubt allows you to gather all of the facts.
  • The benefit of the doubt gives people second chances.
  • The benefit of the doubt keeps you from having to apologize.
  • The benefit of the doubt gives Christianity a good name.
  • The benefit of the doubt supports the golden rule instead of destroying it.

Did I miss something?  What would you add?

Life does exist after 30

January 18, 2011 — 7 Comments

I have delayed writing this post much like I delay going to the dentist, doctor or even a car repair shop.  It is the self-discovery that I dread and the inevitable bad news that comes from a doctor’s office or a repair shop that I loathe.  Nevertheless I drudge on through because it is only through self-discovery where we truly find the living God who dwells in our past, present and future.  Last Friday I turned 30 and it was a wonderful experience that capped off a week of a softball party and a surprise birthday party.  I feel both loved and supported by so many individuals and I truly am a man most blessed by God.  I would like to share some lessons I have learned in my life in the first 30 years that will help you live your teens and twenties to its fullest potential.  I will try to avoid trite sayings that preachers use but I find that those sayings are regretabbly unavoidable…

  1. It’s not all about you. If there is one word that could characterize my first 30 years it would be the word, “narcissism.”  I know we all are a little selfish at times but it seems that I struggled with this more than most people.  In my teenage years  if there was a worldly pleasure easily accessible to me than I took advantage (without disclosing much just let me say, for the record, that I have not always been a moral person).  If I had to walk over someone to benefit my cause then I did it.  If someone neglected me, punished me or ridiculed me then they were ignored, ostracized or even punished for lambasting my integrity.  As I recall some dark periods of my past I can’t help but to think much of my pain was avoidable if I just realize that it was not about me.
  2. Life is a roller-coaster. Different seasons call for different experiences and the ever-changing ebb and flow of life brings about conflicting narratives that tug on a person’s soul.  Early in our marriage (December 29, 2003) Heather had a miscarriage and we were devastated at our loss.  Amelia (our second-born) was born with a whole in her lung, Kaleb had RSV as a child and recently my youngest broke his leg.  Mix that with financial troubles (some self-inflicted…see point #1) and economic hardships and life can be very hectic.  God created us to weather serious storms in our lives and it seems that while a current struggle may be significant we should always look at the trial with a lens of perspective.  Some people flip-out over the small things but lately I have learned to not worry as much and it has made me a better husband, father, son, friend and minister.
  3. Not much is happenstance. I look back at my life and believe in the providence of God.  I place my finger on significant events in my life and ask the million-dollar question, “Why did __________ happen like that?”  A friend of mine overdosed years after I moved and I ask, “Why was that not me?”  After dropping off a high-school girlfriend my car spun out of control in the rain in the direction of a 20 foot drop-off.  “Why did my car stop right before the edge?”  A girl in college just recently got out of a relationship and I did too and I asked her out.  “Why did Heather  say yes?”  Not much is happenstance…not much is chance…we are merely paint on the canvas of the divine painter.
  4. “God is not made by human hands…” Paul said that in Acts 17:24 to the men of Athens and I believe it strongly to this day.  I have shifted in theology since I first arrived at Freed-Hardeman in 1999.  I used to think I had everything figured out and that I could put God in this neatly packaged box and if someone needed me to explain who God is/was then I would open this box and show them who God was.  That worked until I realized that God was doing some amazing things that confronted (opposed) my preconceived notion of how God operated.  Scripture used to be information for me to dissect, translate and pattern for people to understand.  Now I still believe in good exegesis I think we can almost treat Scripture as an idol instead of its intended purpose as transformation (Psalm 1; Rom. 12:1-2).  God is not solely bound to leafs of paper but is living, active and powerful.  Scripture, at best, is an attempt by God to describe an infinite concept using finite terms.  That is why no perfect description of heaven exists…it cannot be contained by human vernacular but God paints the best picture he believes we can understand.
  5. Life is never over. Abraham got his call to ministry when he was 75 years old!  We never should get to the point where we think God is through with me I shall now die.  As a minister I see at Main Street God using people who are infants and who are 90 years old!!!  God uses us for his purposes in every season of our life no matter what age we are.  Sarah laughed because she thought she was too old, Jeremiah was afraid because he thought he was too young and God essentially told both of them that nothing is impossible with God.

So here I am, 30 years old and ready to do whatever God wants me to do wherever he sends me.  I am not wise, but I am wiser than I once was.  I am not experienced but I am a little more experienced than I once was.  Regardless…I am content.

I came across this verse today in my reading and thought that it was not happenstance.  A lot happened to Joseph that could have caused him to be bitter and angry but because of God’s providence Joseph did some amazing things.

“Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt…” (Gen 41:46a).


June 24, 2010 — Leave a comment

“Let nothing disturb thee; Let nothing dismay thee; All thing pass; God never changes. Patience attains All that it strives for. He who has God Finds he lacks nothing:God alone suffices.” (St. Teresa of Avila)


June 21, 2010 — 1 Comment

Can I give you a hug?

Recovery is a process not a one-time moment.  I had minor surgery on Wednesday and it was an experience to say the least.  I was not in much pain the day of the surgery but Thursday was a day of pain and today I am still pretty sore even though I am at the office.  Anytime you invade the body with a knife or some other instrument it causes pain in the body.  Some pain is needed in order to promote the health of a person so pain becomes the stepping stone to wellness.  But recovery is not easy and has its ups and downs.  The doctor gave me pain killers to help with my pain but that is simply a drug that diverts the pain that is actually still occurring in my body.  I just don’t feel it.  How often we try to alleviate our pain with a “quick fix” or a “pain-killer” in our spiritual lives without really addressing what’s wrong.  Jesus had a gift for addressing the real issues of the disciples, Pharisees and scribes.  To change their ways it was going to be a painful process but the Pharisees sim[ply wanted to bandage their pride and do what they have always done. 

We as a church need to be patient with people who are recovering from spiritual illnesses, depression or those who are newborn babes in Christ.  We must be willing to admit that the recovery process for a person takes time especially when they have changed their lives in a moment.  The best part of my recovery process was having my family around to help me.  If a person has to recover alone it takes the very life out of him.  To know that my people were praying for me, thinking about me and asking about me was flattering and somewhat therapeutic.  I had a few of my youth actually text me to see how I was doing.  Shouldn’t we do this for visitors, new Christians and those who have fallen away?  Recovery takes time and we never get to the point where we are 100% healthy!  Never!  By the grace of God we are sustained in this world.  Remember that. 

Another lesson I got from my surgery is the importance of rest.  God knew what he was doing when he established principles like the Sabbath, the year of Jubilee and various festivals and feasts.  We all need rest and we can’t always go at it 100 mph (even though some of us try).  These two days I took off was huge and helped me tremendously.  To all of you who helped, prayed, and called about me: “I love you!” 

Recovery…it is a process.  It takes time!

Dating Etiquette

February 22, 2010 — 2 Comments

Hunter Cleaning Shotgun on PorchThis post is long overdue and I am trying to find the right way to say what I need to say without offending people but it will probably be impossible.  The good thing is that this post is mostly opinion and you can always roll your eyes and say, “He doesn’t know what he is talking about.”  Whatever!  Or as some of my youth group girls would say, “Whatev!”

I have been a youth minister long enough to see my fair share of relationships.  I have seen knock-down drag-out fights and I have also seen people get married (ok…one couple).  I have also been in my fair share of relationships so I have a little experience with the whole dating etiquette.  So if you are a high-schooler, middle-schooler or single person looking for some advice here is some free of charge!   

  • Start with asking why you are dating this person. Looks are important but they are also deceiving. What is your motivation for dating this person?  Be honest!!!
  • Can you say that this person draws you closer to God?  If not, your wasting your time and theirs.  Either find a way to grow closer with the relationship or find a new relationship.
  • Do not post stuff on Facebook about your relationship. It is not the business of the public to know so don’t let them know.  Which leads me to…
  • Guys, keep private things private (not discussing anatomy but you know what I mean).  If a girl shares her brokenness or struggles with you, take that to the grave. Girls, same thing.  This is not ammunition when you break up.
  • LEAVE EACH OTHER ALONE!!!  If you have to spend every weekend, every night, ever waking moment with each other, then something is weird about that!  Take time to be with friends and loved ones.  You don’t want to ditch your friends for some guy or girl for 3 years, then you break up and then you wonder what happened to all of your friendships. Oh yeah…stop the whole text each other every minute…it is annoying. 
  • Respect that your bodies are the temple of the Lord. Do not give what is holy to something that is profane.
  • Have fun! Do crazy stuff together like go rock climbing or go paint pottery or go to an opera together.  Wild and random stuff!
  • Men Only on this one:  Guys, treat her like she was a princess. Don’t ever cuss at her, yell at her, make fun of her in front of your guy friends because you want to “be cool”, and don’t ever force her to do something she does not want to do. Remember: for every girl you are dating that is also a father’s whole world and you disrespect that young lady you disrespect that father…you don’t want to do that. I will hunt you down.
  • P.D.A. in moderation!  I nearly vomit when I see couples hugging on each other and embracing each other every second. YUCK. I think it is sweet when a couple shows affection when nobody can tell like when instead of the blatant interlocking hand-holding fiasco I enjoyed Heather and I just holding only a couple of fingers or something like that. But you know what I mean.
  • Be careful with those three words.  Love is not something you just give to anybody. When you say “I love you” it means something that is passionate, committed and costly. When an 8th grader says to me, “Robbie I love him so much,” I look at them and as nice as I can say it, I reply, “I am not sure you know what love means!”  I tell them, “The bible says, ‘Love suffers long,’ do you suffer when you love?”  I get a blank stare then a, “whatev!” 
  • There is a right way to break up and a cowardly, stupid way to break up. I have done it both ways and admit to being a jerk.  I don’t care how awkward it is going to be it is never acceptable to break up via text, e-mail, online chat or through a friend. Never acceptable!!!  If you want to break up then it is only fair you man-up and do it in person or call them yourself and be able to explain why you are breaking up with them.  Remember this principle as well, “Love your enemies.” 
  • Finally, to those of you out there in the internet world who have encountered multiple negative relationships I encourage you that your life is not the sum total of who you date. I want you to know that you are beautiful and no matter how hurt, broken and damaged your heart is from some stupid girl or some moron guy I need you to understand that you are loved by God. In the words of a Michael W. Smith song, “know that [you] have never been unloved!”   

Hope you have enjoyed this.

BTW…the picture in this post reminds me of what I will be doing when my daughter gets home with her date for the first time.  “On the front porch cleaning my gun!”  HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Friends playing a video gameBelow is a post from one of our teens who has been the most active since I have been at Main Street.  If the door is open she is there regardless of the activities.  You know how some youth groups have the service projects where only a few show up and then (magically) when there is a ski trip you have 47 sign-up?  This person is one of the few who is at everything.  The topic I asked this person to write about was, “What has meant the most to you about being in the youth group?”  I think you will value their response…enjoy! 

There are many things that have been important to me during my time in the youth group, but one of the most meaningful things to me is how close our youth group is. Knowing that I always have someone to talk to about my problems. I have been very lucky to have this youth group to talk to. They have kept me as sane as possible. Whether I’m having a bad day and it feels like nothing is going right, or I don’t understand my homework, there is always someone there for me. If Robbie asked me to do this when I first came into the youth group, I would have written about how acceptance is the most important thing. Acceptance is a huge thing for our youth group to have, but the thing that matters is closeness. To me the youth group is about growing closer to each other while growing closer to God. For me personally, the youth group has done that. It has given me the right people to look up to, and it has also opened my eyes to areas in my life that I need to work on. The youth group gives me the assurance that I am never alone, no matter how big my storm is, there will always be someone beside me helping me through it. 

Good post.  Community is so important to teenagers and it seems to diminish as we get older.  Teenagers just like hanging out with each other but I have noticed that adults often are not that way.  Working all day and then driving little johnny to baseball practice leaves little to no room for community.  However, I bask in the times when me and my closest companions just sit together, eat hot wings, watch football and talk about life.  Consider the verses below and meditate on them.  Have a great day!  Stay tuned for next week’s post from one of our teens: “How do I handle all of this temptation?” 

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.  (Acts 2:42-47). 

A Word from a Teenager

January 13, 2010 — 2 Comments

People giving advice to young manToday we have a treat.  Two of our students write about the difficulties of being a teenage christian.  With these posts I am keeping their names anonymous because it works better that way and they have the freedom to say what they want.  These two students are close to my heart and have been with me in the youth for some time.  I love them so much and admire their courage.  I will give my reaction below. 

Student 1

The hardest thing about being a teen is not knowing enough about scripture.  And when someone desperately comes up to you and needs to know about the Word you’re afraid that you don’t know enough.  Another thing is going to a school that no one believes in Christianity its really hard because sure we get called all kinds of names but you just have to go on.  Another thing is not having “school friends” that are Christians, because they don’t know how to act or relate to you but still they are your best friends.  Those are the hardest things about being a christian teen.
Student 2
The hardest thing about being a Christian Teen is being yourself.  It is so simple but for some reason so difficult.  We are influenced by so many things everyday: friends, family, media, etc.  Sometimes we are hidden by all the things that we think we should be or what others think we should be, and we lose sight of who we really are and what our mission is as Christians.  It eventually takes over our lives and we forget what the important things truly are.  It is important that we do listen to people, but we must be careful of what and who influences our decisions.
I admire both of their responses as they are real issues.  I did not grow up as a Christian so these are issues I have not experienced in school.  I appreciate Student 2 for we all struggle with making decisions and what is wise and unwise.  Influences are innumerable on what we choose and everyone thinks they have the best possible way for which you should live.  Student 1 hits home to me for the quest to know enough Scripture is always on my heart.  But there is no end to that quest but only the patience to be humble enough in certain times to say, “I don’t know!”  I hope you learned from these voices as I have learned from being their friend.  Have a blessed day. 
Next Wednesday’s Topic:  Things I wish My Parents Would Understand About Me.  Should be interesting. 
Tomorrow’s Guest Post is From a Parent: 5 Things A Youth Minister Needs to Know that Will Make His Job Better

Relational Evangelism

November 5, 2009 — Leave a comment

Evangelism is still about relationships.  It always has been and always will be.  The good news that rings out is the message of redemption, hope and reconciliation and it is also a message of forgiveness of sins.  I am reading through the Gospel of Luke and I am rediscovering some things and discovering new things.  One of those is an appreciation for Mary.  I believe there is a level of suspicion in Mary while she became pregnant with Jesus.  Consider what Mary had gone through already:  Gabriel visited her and tell hers everything that will happen; She had to deal with the doubt of her soon-to-be husband (Joseph); not to mention the political taxation occurring at the time. 

Gabriel told her how incredible this son would be and (in my opinion) Mary offers a suspicious response: “How could this be, since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1:34).  Fair question right?  This is too much, too soon and Mary is not on this band wagon yet because it all does not make sense.  Then, Gabriel throws Mary the curve ball:

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”  (Luke 1:35-37).   

 Holy Spirit and God will overshadow you (Mary is probably thinking, “Ok whatever that means!?!?!?”) but here is the kicker: “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her six month.”  Why is that significant?  Because that type of stuff did not happen.  Barrenness was looked down upon in Jewish culture and there was no telling how much ridicule Elizabeth had to endure because of this (read Luke 1:5-25 for a preface and also remember Abraham and Sarah). [1] 

This is why I think it is amazing:  someone who was really close to her had a genuine experience with God and the situation was so drastic that she could do nothing but place her full faith and trust in the Lord!!!  This is what led her to say in the next verse: “I am the Lord’s servant” (1:38).  It was miraculous mostly but relationships were a huge part of it.    

So what about you?  The relationships you have with people greatly affect their view about Jesus.  How you live your life is a testimony to whether you are taking up the cross and following Jesus.  It takes a lot on God’s part to work on someone’s heart but they must also see what the Lord has already done to your heart as well!  How do I evangelize?  How do I reach souls?  Just relay what god has done in your life and let god do the rest.  Yes, there must be some teaching but you cannot teach someone who has not invited you into their personal sphere. 

Think about one of your friends who are not a Christian right now and then think about what you could say or do to let them know about what God has done.  Then pray for an opportunity.        

[1].  I believe Luke is intentionally informing the reader at the miraculous nature of Elizabeth’s barrenness.  He mentions it in 1:7 and also in 1:36.  Then when John the Baptist was born the neighbors rejoiced because the Lord had shown mercy to her (1:58).  Which means, in her barrenness and old age God did amazing things which caused the people to rejoice?  A question I have is this: Do you think this was why many people were loyal to John the Baptist instead of Jesus (see Luke 3:15)?  Both situations were miraculous.