Thursday, February 28, 2008

A green rant...

I need to start this post off by letting it be known that I am by no means a "tree hugging hippie" an Al Gore supporter, or a firm believer in global warming and the coming "inconvenient truth." I did however decide about a year ago that I was going to try and be a little more "green" and do my part to help the environment...not because of all the hype right now, but because of Psalm 24:1 which says "the Earth is the Lord's and everything in it..." I figure we should all do our part to take care of what God has blessed us with-whether or not there is a coming environmental crisis or not.

With that said, over the last year I have tried to do my part by switching light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs as old ones burn out, trying to consume less water in the house, adjusting the thermostat in the house during non-peak hours, and other things as I can.

Now on to the rant...have you noticed that every hotel you stay in now gives a spiel in the bathroom about how they are conserving water and resources by not changing sheets everyday and asking that you only get new towels if you would like them? Well that seems to be the case, and since I am trying to "do my part" I generally hang up my towel to reuse it the next day, but EVERY hotel I have stayed in STILL replaces the towel each day, which I don't mind, but don't waste the print and paper for a note if you aren't going to do what you say you are going to do. It happened again this last weekend at a large 4 star hotel in downtown Cincy.

Okay done with the rant....just do what you say you are going to do or don't ask! I'm trying to be a good citizen here people! :)

Speaking of hotels, I highly recommend using priceline to name your own price for hotels. I have always gotten great deals at expensive hotels ( I got into the convention hotel for $50 a night last weekend) so check them out and see what they can do for you!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

NYMC Day 3

Well another great day, that is for sure. I have to admit, I hate that tomorrow means back to the "real world" but I think I am almost as excited to get back into things as I was about being here. I still have a lot to process and a lot of work to do, but I think this conference has helped me take a few steps in the right direction.

So here is what I'll have to chew on from today. Greg Stier spoke tonight about "Challenging/Difficult" conversations. He emphasized the fact that we HAVE to have those difficult conversations with our kids even when we are afraid of the outcome. Again I thought-how do they know exactly where I am? In addition to the idea of having these conversations, he mentioned that we need to allow kids to question and process through the difficult questions and let God work the answers. Our job as youth ministers is to work through the issues WITH the students, and not necessarily always have the answers, but be committed to finding the answers with the students. Again this will be a challenge for me, because I have always thought I had to have all the answers since I was the youth pastor. So with that said I am glad that I now have the freedom to say I don't know, but let's find out together which will hopefully lead to deeper meaningful relationships with students.

So this has been an awesome weekend. I highly recommend ANY youth worker attending this conference next year...especially if you live in Ohio since it's in Columbus. I promise you'll leave feeling like you connected, learned some great things, and got fed.

Thanks Group and SYM for an amazing weekend and for pouring yourselves into us. You'll never know how much it has meant to me.

NYMC Day 2-part deaux

Alright, so I've had a good night's rest, and most recently a fill of another Cincy delicacy in the form of LaRosa's Pizza, so I think I am good to go to offer my thoughts of what God is doing in my life from yesterday and into today.

There seems to be a recurring theme in everything I have experienced so far that keeps pointing me toward the fact that I need to make sure the Lord is first in EVERYTHING in my life. I am not exactly sure why that is the case-I thought I was doing okay, and I am not sure what it means necessarily, but that seems to be the way the Lord is pointing me. I don't think I have strayed from the Lord that I am aware of, and I know I am not involved in some secret sin, but maybe I just need to refocus everything on Him because maybe-just maybe there is more than I am experiencing already.

This stood out to me in three areas yesterday...
  1. PLAY-I loved yesterday morning's session. I think for some reason or another I have forgotten how to play. I need to rediscover that "inner child" within me. I am a goofy guy, and love to have fun, but I have found myself not being as "fun" as I used to be-whereas I used to be the first one to rush the stage or do something as crazy as possible, I have begun to move into a role where I seem to step back more, and I really don't want to be that guy. In fact I am sensing that I need to relax more and just have fun...its OKAY to have fun, you can be "childlike" and still be an adult and still relate to God, help me rediscover that inner child.
  2. FEAR-Doug talked about letting go of our fears by faith in order to be able to have authentic conversations and relationships in ministry. I think the biggest are for me is my sense of inadequacy. I have discovered this about me and it has haunted me for some time. What I mean by this is the sense of "I'll never be as good as..." For some reason I have always been afraid of stepping out in faith or I have backed away from things because I compare myself to others and think I am not as good as they are in ministry. I thought I had beat this a long time ago, but the enemy still puts that thought in front of me more than I realize and I think it keeps me from being as effective as I can God has been showing me that it is okay to be ME. I'm the only one (thank the Lord some would say) and God uses me as ME, not if I am some carbon copy of someone else. So God help me to discover who I am.
  3. EMPTINESS-I have been going through the deeper learning track dealing with lasting in leadership since to put it easy, I am worn out, tired, and empty. I think now I am realizing that it is more related to 1 and 2 than anything, but I am being filled this weekend and discovering how NOT to be empty again in a short time. God help me to lean toward you to be filled instead of trying to fill myself with things that are not YOU.

So that's what I've learned so far...I still have a long way to go, but hopefully I am not alone. Here's to discovering who I really am in the Lord!


Saturday, February 23, 2008

NYMC Day 2

I'll blog in the morning about day 2...still trying to process everything, and I am beat so I am going to head to bed and maybe in the morning when I have a clear head I can place my thoughts into words-if I tried to night, it would be rambling that would make no sense...wait, that happens more often than not.

See you in the mornin!

Friday, February 22, 2008

NYMC Day 1

WOW-so far awesome is all I have to say. I think the coolest thing is the intimacy level that occurs at the conference. I use that term loosely of course, but it really is odd how interactive the conference is. Normally when you go to a youth conference it is uncommon to see the speakers and trainers out and about-not so with this one, I think I had about four conversations today with leaders of the event and observed several others. I really appreciate that, but I am also a little nervous about the intimacy aspect too as it is not always easy for me to come out of my shell in a group of people and share with those I don't know, so pray that I am stretched in this area this weekend and that I will feel comfortable sharing my heart.

Coach Tony Dungy was the speaker this evening and it was awesome as expected, his testimony and challenge was quite an encouragement. Three things he hit us with that are applicable to my ministry...
  1. Learn your craft- Basically I need to know as much as I can about my ministry and the students I work with and also how I do this. I do think this is relevant to working with teens, but I am not as concerned about this aspect this weekend. I try to stay as fresh as I can about youth culture, so I don't expect to get as much of this during the conference. I am praying for an open spirit though that God will show me some new things while I am here.
  2. Make it personal- Be yourself and take a personal interest in the students you work with. I think I have some to learn in this area. Even after 12 years in youth ministry I still am trying to figure out who I am sometimes and how I can reach certain groups of kids. I am asking God to show me who I am this weekend-even more so than already. Do I have to look or be a certain way to be an effective minister or just be who I am? Also how do I reach the rough kids-how do I draw clear boundaries and still reach those who I don't connect with?
  3. Recharge-Rely on Christ as my driving force, walk as close to Him as possible, and trust the Lord when you experience setbacks. I think THIS as I said yesterday is the reason I am here more than anything. It's not that I am not walking with the Lord or struggling with some deep sin, it is just that I need some refreshment. I am praying that God shows me this weekend what I need to do to recharge.

So day one was awesome....just one more thought I am working through that I'll try and put into words later...just what does the perfect youth worker look like. That is meant more for humor than anything-but I am on the lookout this weekend for that one person who has the "look." I'll try and get that blog on later as well as a picture if I find him/her. Thoughts on what I should look for or today's thoughts in general?

Time to go to sleep-I skipped the late night sessions tonight because I am EXHAUSTED...I know I must be getting old.

Seeking to go deeper...


We Made it!

We made it in 1:30 local time. Lots of rain most of the trip, and then that nasty stuff...a mix of rain and snow that made the last 100 miles or so knuckles are still white, but I guess I better get used to it since I'll be back up here permanently in a month.

I am looking for several things this weekend...
  • first an foremost to be refreshed...working two jobs has been tough, I need a break and to be refilled. I am excited about the chance to reconnect with the Lord on a deeper level.
  • I am looking forward to laughing and having a great time with thousands of other youth pastors...and chasing Josh around to see just how much free stuff I can get (but I won't be a stalker I promise)
  • I am excited about seeing my junior high sponsor get even MORE excited about working with kids that find great joy in farting, belching, and super-wedgies.
  • I am excited about one thing in particular, it's not super spiritual, but eating it can be an experience in itself...and the hours afterwards, well we'll let that speak for itself (in many ways)...that one thing is.....SKYLINE CHILI!
  • and finally I am excited about being in the hometown of the soon to be world champion Cincinnati Reds, and Super Bowl XLIII champs Cincinnati Bengals-well that probably won't happen, but I can dream right? Eventually it WILL happen...I HOPE.

Here's to a great weekend, I am praying for all of you who are attending, and those who are back home (in Jackson and Pensacola)


Thursday, February 21, 2008

WKRP in Cincinnati...

I just thought I would put a little throw back to those of us that remember the early 80's. I do that because I am heading up to Cincy for the weekend for the National Youth Ministry Conference. I am really excited about this, as I didn't get the chance to go to YS last year and I need an opportunity to be refreshed...especially with all the craziness happening with the transition to Ohio already and what is yet to come.

Pray for us though (myself and Scott-my youth sponsor and junior high genius)...looks like we'll be heading right through a winter storm to get stuff.

I'll be posting throughout the weekend on my thoughts about the conference, and hope to maybe see some of you there...anyone going?


Monday, February 18, 2008

the new Knight Rider

So did anyone else watch it? I was a HUGE fan of the original when I was a kid and still like the re-runs when they are on today. I was a little skeptical of the new one when I saw the preview, but it was interesting how they pulled it all together and didn't try to remake the original. The best part for me was the new KITT...AMAZING! I loved the trans-am/camaro, but a Shelby GT500 Mustang blows it away as far as I am concerned. I'll be interested in seeing if it will become a series or just a one time shot like they did a few years ago when they brought HasselHoff back and a new red KITT.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Explanation...

Okay, so here is the follow up from my posts over the last couple of is the explanation:
February 12,2008

Dear Pastor Brian and church leadership team,

Megan and I want to personally thank you for the last three years of ministry here. While it has not been without difficulties, we have made some great strides as a youth ministry, and I believe there is a bright future for our young people. The younger students in the ministry as well as the upcoming young people have already far surpassed what I could have ever hoped for in a youth ministry.

With that said, and after much prayer and wrestling with God, Megan and I have made a difficult decision. We feel that the Lord is leading us in another direction for yet another exciting adventure in ministry. Our last Sunday with Ensley Nazarene will be Sunday March 30th.

To say that this was an easy decision would be untrue. I have wrestled with this for some time now. The journey actually began last summer. When I was approached about the financial difficulties with the church, God opened up another door for me and I chose to stay by working with q100. However working two jobs has taken its toll on me, and I had hoped to move into a full time position with the radio that would allow me to adjust my schedule at the church even more. This has not happened, and is not going to happen. I am not physically and mentally able to continue both positions and have been praying that God would find a solution in some way.

Ask and you shall receive. God has opened up a door for us. We will be returning to Jackson, Ohio where we came from where I will serve as the director of student ministry at Christ United Methodist Church. It is obvious that the Lord is leading there as I was contacted about the position without any solicitation on my part. This does seem strange since I will be returning to the town we left and serving in a different church, but there is something God has for us there just as he did here.

Again thank you for three wonderful years of ministry serving together. I believe God is going to do some great things with the church and we wish blessings upon you!

With the love of Christ,
Matt & Megan
So this may come as no big surprise to those of you who read the blog regularly, but in case you didn't know, this is what has been up lately and the reason for us asking for prayer. I told the teens last night which was VERY difficult, but God used it and it was a good service together. The reason we knew we were supposed to take the position is because every SPECIFIC prayer that we asked was answered exactly as we wanted it to be. We are both excited and nervous about this new adventure so we covet your continued prayer.
I guess once a Buckeye, always a Buckeye-but I'll sure miss the beach! As we say-Buckeye born, Buckeye bred, and one of these days I'll be Buckeye dead.