During the first five or ten minutes of a drama or action movie, I try to watch everything very closely. I'm always afraid that I'm gonna miss something that's really important later. Directors are so tricky these days. They sneak in clues or secret messages. Things can looks pretty normal, but really it's something that reveals what's going to happen. If I can figure it out before everyone says, "Whoa! Didn't see that coming" then I feel good. If I can't, then I feel kinda dumb, like "I shoulda known that was gonna happen."
One of the things I pay the most attention to is the people. It always takes me a while to figure out who all of the main characters are. I'm asking questions like, "Is that guy that just walked out the door important?" "Why did that girl and guy make eye contact at the restaurant?" "Did I see that guy earlier?" "Do I need to remember that he has a daughter?" While I"m thinking this, sometimes I can miss the real main characters. I'm like a kid with ADD. "What's the name of this movie again? Why do I have popcorn in my lap? Who's that guy with the star on his shield?" My friends are like, "The movie's called Captain America. You're eating popcorn while watching the movie Captain America. The guy with the shield is Captain America, you know, like the movie's name. Jim, I'm never watching a movie with you again."
Sometimes reading the Bible can be like this. We can get so focused on certain parts, trying to keep track of everything, that we miss the some pretty obvious stuff. The Bible talks about a lot of people, some with really funky names. It's hard to keep straight the main characters among all the people. Or is it? Who is the main character anyways? Join us this Wednesday, Oct. 9th @ 7pm as we talk about connecting with God by reading the Bible.
PS - Tell Jim what's unusual about the magnifying glass on Wednesday and he'll give you a prize! Seriously.
Last night we finished out our series about friendship. We talked about how part of the way God designed friendships were so that our friends would influence and shape us. It's God's desire that in a friendship (really any relationship) both people are helping the other to become more like Jesus. So I thought I'd share three ways that teenagers, especially the ones I work with, have helped/are helping me to be more like Jesus.
Perspective - It's great talking with students about life. Someone will ask a question or make a comment and I'll see things in a new light. All of the sudden things I thought were important no longer are as important. That's helpful. Focusing on eternal is better than focusing on the temporary.
Transparency - I am continually amazed at how open and honest teenagers are. They don't always share the most personal, secret stuff. But a lot of times they freely talk about hopes, dreams, disappointments, fears, anger, etc. This take a lot of courage. It's risky to share personal things like that. There are times I want to stay closed off, safe and guarded. But that's not like Jesus. He was a risk taker. Teenagers are helping me take some of the same risks.
Fun - Teenagers are fun. They know what fun is, where to find it, and how to have it. I laugh the most when I'm around students. Being with them helps me fight off the grumpy old man syndrome. Laughing and enjoying life is definitely like Jesus.
These are just a few of the ways that God is using the students in my life to shape me to be more like Christ. I'm glad that I can call them friends.
My junior year of high school I had a friend I would regularly study with. We had Math, Science, English and History together. Almost everyday after school we would go to one of our houses and work on homework, projects or study for a test.
Studying together was easy since we were good friends. And it worked out great for me 'cause he also had the highest GPA in our class. That means he was #1 out of 300+ students. So yea, he brought the brains to the table. I mostly brought the chips (Doritos. Yum!)
What really amazed me was how much he said I helped him with his grades. I remember one book assignment in English that neither one of us really understood. (Ivanhoe anyone?) The main difference was that I had read the book and he had not. I paid attention in class and he was busy with games on his calculator. So when we studied for the test, he was asking questions, and I was giving answers. Well come test day, I failed miserably. He did not. Sigh.
Such is life.
And this is what friends do, right? Help each other out with everyday problems. You help me with math, I'll help you with English. You listen to my boyfriend drama, and I'll hear about your crazy dad /step mom / grandma / sister's boyfriend's best friend. If your mom can take us, my dad can pick us up. You ask my ex out, and I'll punch you in the nose. Opps. That really doesn't fit here (although it happens). But is there something more we should be doing besides helping each other with school problems, home problems, drama problems? Is there even a bigger problem that we forget? Or worse, one we ignore? (And I'm not talking about B.O. junior high boys!)
There is a big problem, and our friends need our help.
Find out how on Wed, September 4th @ 7 pm.
Last night I talked with Melissa after Blast / Ignite. I was telling her how part of our lesson was that we need Jesus' help to stick it out during the messy times of a friendship. But she reminded me that sometimes people need to get out of messy friendships. So how does a person know what to do? I thought I'd give some questions to help you figure it out.
This isn't everything, but it should get you thinking in the right direction. Obviously prayer is a must. And remember that God speaks through the Bible. So it's good to read it often. If you still need help, the Blast and Ignite leaders would love to talk with you more about a mess you're dealing with. Just let us know.
What's the most important trait in a friendship? Compassion? Laughter? Trust? I'm guessing that most people would say love. I would agree, and I'm pretty sure Jesus would too. In fact 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, " But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love."
However, I've heard a few people say that love has become a junk drawer term; we toss a bunch of stuff in even if it doesn't belong there. And it's amazing what ends up in there. (Melted ice cream anyone?)
We love almost anything. We love God, family, pizza, new shoes, snow days, being all alone in our house, having a party at our house, finding money we forgot about in a pocket, finding money someone else forgot about, ketchup, babies laughing, videos of people getting hurt (but not too hurt), getting an extra day to turn homework in, and on and on it goes.
So even though love is important, we use the word so often it almost has lost any meaning.
But what if I told you that there was another trait that God designed to be in our friendships that almost as important as love? The main difference is that love gets talked about all the time and this trait hardly ever gets talked about (except maybe during Christmas time). Would you be able to guess what is it?
If you want to find out more of how God has designed friendships to be, join us this Wed, August 21st, @ 7pm at Blast or Ignite. (If you want a head start, check out John 15:11.)
It's Friday afternoon as I'm writing this. Most of you are in school, at least physically. (Who knows where you are mentally??) As I think back to Wednesday night I can't help but smile at the memories of the evening.
Right in the middle of my teaching time with Blast I had a thought similar to this, "What am I doing trying to teach teenagers and using the Trinity as an example?? What made me think this is a good idea?" Talk about a panic moment. Thankfully, that doubt was only there for a moment. After praying and thinking through the summer about where God wants to lead us, I'm pretty confident that we are going in the right direction. I mean how can we go wrong by looking to God as our example?.
But probably the greatest, most frequent thought I had during and after Blast/Ignite is just how much you guys mean to me. I, and the other leaders, are ridiculously blessed by God to be able to be a part of your lives. I bet you'd be surprised at how often I and the other leaders think and pray about you. And you'd be completely shocked if you knew how God (the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit) loved you. So last Wednesday was a good start to what's going to be a great year.
If you're looking for some examples of how Jesus relates to the Father and the Holy Spirit, check out
John 14 and John 17. It's good stuff.
We're going to start this year by talking about friendships. It's the perfect topic for this time of year. School is starting which means new schools (for some), and new classes (for all). With both of those come new people into our lives; which means new friendships.
But, have you every wondered why God made friendships? I mean, when He created us, He could have made us any way He wanted. Look at the rest of creation; humans are the most social beings on the Earth. Horses haven't created a category called "social media." Giraffes aren't out there twittering, "Cut my head off again in my selfy! #needapanoramiccamera."
So why did He make us with the ability and desire to be friends with each other? The answer might surprise you. (Hint: check out Genesis 1:26) Come on Wednesday, August 21st @ 7 pm to join the discussion.
Each week two blogs will be posted for Blast and Ignite.