Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What Lies Ahead

So much is to be said about everything I have experienced in life. I was remembering some of the things I have seen and experienced over the years. There is so much to look back and smile about and there is some stuff that many would look at and frown about. However, all of those experiences together have made me into who I am today.

A few of the things that stuck out to me: the thrill of my first roller coaster and the death grip I had on the should bar, I swam with a dolphin, I remember my first homecoming dance and what an embarrassingly awful date I was. I remember early mornings and sweaty "character building" days installing fences and decks. I've seen a lot of hurt too. I have been to a lot of funerals of family members and good friends. I've seen a new natural disaster every year; tsunami of 2004, katrina, earthquake in Hati and many more. On a lighter note, I remember, rather vividly, driving home from the BMV for the first time with my temporary learner's permit and how nervous I was passing a combine along the way. In contrast, I also remember the confidence I felt when I went to take my driver's test to get my license. I remember having the feeling that know how to do about anything, then the realization when I got to college that I was a lot smaller than I ever could imagine. I remember the first day of college and how nervous and quiet I was and how much that has changed over the years.

All of these things have had an impact on who I am today. Romans says that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him.

Now looking forward, I am glad I have experienced everything I have. I'm excited about what lies ahead of me. It's as if I have been taught all of this stuff and then given a blank slate and I get to fill it with what I want! Since there is only another semester of school, I am entering into a brand new time of my life, but I have been learning over the past 20 years how to live successfully in this time. I'm excited to see where I end up. I have my past experience and my future hopes to guide me, an education to help me, friends who love me, family who won't let me fall, and the love of Christ compelling me. I have no boundaries to where I can end up, that is the beauty of my job, there are people who need to hear about the Gospel of Jesus anywhere I go!

I don't think I am usually am not this reflective, but for some reason I started looking back yesterday afternoon. I'm glad I did. I have a renewed excitement about my future and how much I have been preparing for it.

Did I have failures? Of course I did. Do I have regrets? Yes, but I learned from them all. I have fallen and failed at so many things, but at least I have tried. I like the quote from Abe Lincoln, "I'm not concerned that you have fallen, I am concerned that you will rise."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Just a Little Update!

Hey yall. Thanksgiving has come and gone and much fun was had. I got to see a lot of family over my break, including my brother and his family for a few hours! Too much food was consumed, games were played, catching up was done and laughter was had by all. It doesn't get much better than that!

I went down to talk with a church in Raleigh, however, it didn't turn out quite as good as I had hoped. The silver lining: the night I found out about the one church I went to my cousin's Bible study group and heard about another church, who does interns a lot, from a family there. I just went there to hang out with the little ones for a couple hours, but it turned out to possibly be a great thing! (more to come as I find it out).

In other parts of the world... well of my life at least (if you haven't figured out this one is all about me!). I am going to be out of the dorms next semester!!! I am moving into a big boy house with my very own room and possibly my very own bathroom! My school bought two houses and refinished them (very nicely, I might add) and they are offering them to seniors as an alternative living option. There are 6 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, our own washer and dryer (that doesn't require quarters!), 2 living rooms, a pretty good sized kitchen with new appliances, topped off with a nice view of Price Hill! (for those of you who have never been to price hill, that was a little bit of sarcasm:) All in all, I couldn't ask for a much better deal. I'm going to be living in there with two other guys. We are all preaching majors, so you know there is going to be some "sermon in a bag-ing" going on (if you don't know what that is, see previous post).

That is just a little update of some news in my life. Nothing too exciting. The semester is winding down and we are getting ready for exams.

For you southern folk, I know you aren't really sure what this stuff is, but we are supposed to get about 3 inches of snow today! That isn't even the first snow we have had this month!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Benefits of Blogs

This past weekend I found my blogging experience to come in handy. Why you ask, well because I was asked to team preach with our senior minister. The only problem was that we hadn't had a chance to talk about what we were going to talk about until last Monday, and as I mentioned in my last post, last week was honestly one of the busiest weeks I can remember for me. So I didn't get a chance to prepare until Friday night and into Saturday. I was still struggling with the main focus of the message on Saturday, largely due to a rather ambiguous title with very little extra help. The title of the message was, "There is no place, any place like this place, so this must be the place." Or something like that, I can't really remember. Which if you react to that like I reacted to it you are probably saying, "Well that clears it up." Needless to say, I was lacking in the departments of clarity and direction with this one.

I had two 7 minute segments to fill and nothing to go on...

So, what did I do, but turn to some recent blog posts and allow my "sermon-in-a-bag" skills to take action! I'll come back to the "sermon-in-a-bag" in a minute.

I figured that some of the things I have recently posted about have been on my mind a lot lately and they could fit together in some sense to talk about our mission statement as a youth group, which is, "To lead students in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ by creating environments where students can wonder who God is, discover Christ's purpose in their lives, and develop a passion for the lost."

I focused on creating a time where students can really step back and see God working in their lives (previous blog post). And I also talked about how we need to embrace change and how it is necessary to get where we need to go (a couple posts ago;).

Now, what is "sermon-in-a-bag"? Well, my friend group, who I hang out with most of the time, will get together occasionally and for entertainment we give one person a topic (typically something completely random, i.e. picture frame, spaghetti noodle, coffee, sprained ankles). This person has thirty seconds to come up with a sermon based on that topic. They can use it however they want. Then another person will introduce them as if they are a guest speaker at a church service. By the way, not much of this is ever taken too seriously, like I said, it's for entertainment purposes. We usually get some good laughs out of this and it serves as some good clean, nerdy preacher wanna be's fun.

However, it's not just fun, but it has really trained me to think on my feet and be able to put together thoughts on the fly while I am speaking. It is quite fun now, but I assure you, I was about to wet myself the first time I did this just in front of my friends. But I have actually picked up some skills from it and have been able to fill in for people on the spot and have been ready, largely due to this exercise we use as fun. It has come in handy at least three times that I can recall off the top of my head. One day, at Beavercreek, Jason, the youth minster, asked me if I wanted to teach 2nd hour. Which is fine, the only catch is he asked me at 11 am Sunday morning and our service started at 11:15. He told me to teach on servanthood. I'm still not 100% sure why he asked me to, but I love to teach, so I took the challenge. I enjoyed it and my "sermon-in-a-bag" skills really paid off that day. Some people even said it was one of my better lessons.

All this to say that things we do for fun, such as blogging and "sermon-in-a-bagging" can pay off! So keep up the fun little things!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Chance to Breath

Tonight I had the chance to do something I feel like I haven't been able to do in a long time. Relax! Not that I haven't had an occasional nap here and there. And for those of you who are rolling their eyes, thinking I still take a nap every day, you are wrong. Those days are over... they only happen about twice a week now ;)

Anyway... This past month has been a little busy that I realized tonight that I haven't realized how few nights I have just chilled out and not done anything. Between a jr. high retreat the first weekend in October, a wonderful and fun visit (that deserves more attention than I'm giving it now) to North Carolina, my friends bachelor party, his wedding last weekend, and a funeral this week, I feel like I have been on the go constantly all month, and for good reason. I have been.

Though I haven't been overly worn out this whole time, I simply forgot what it is like to just take a step back and have a night where I am not up late writing a paper or preparing for Sunday School, rather, simply sitting with my close friends at dinner only to come back and lounge around, watching a movie. How often does that happen?

I started off the evening of relaxation around 2 with a little nap. Then I got up and read a little bit. I have grown into a reader, I just wish now that I had more time for it. Then I went with a good friend of mine to play racquet ball, which is something I don't get to do very often now, but I still love playing for some reason (if anyone is wondering, I did win 2 games in a row:). Came back, took a shower, then off to dinner it was, Cancun Mexican Restaurant! After that begins the night of watching a movie and having good relaxing times with my friends, not thinking about everything I am going to have to do this weekend or next week, but simply enjoying the moment.

It reminded me of a clip I saw from a Rob Bell video, Everything is Spiritual. He said that in the book of Exodus, chapter 24 (I think), God tells Moses to go up on the mountain and wait, or be, on the mountain. The reason Rob offers for why God says this is because the whole time you are climbing the mountain you are thinking about getting to the top of the mountain, but then the minute you reach the top of the mountain you start thinking about how you are going to get down the mountain. God doesn't want Moses to miss out on the experience of a life time. This sounds really simple, but so often, we think we are working toward something and we probably are, but once we accomplish the task we are on we move straight to the next task without ever soaking in everything that has happened... without giving ourselves a chance to see how God has worked in our lives.

This whole month I have been doing just that, going from one thing to the next without allowing myself to process what has gone on lately. I go from going somewhere to doing homework, right back to going somewhere else and I never look back. When I think of it, my night just Wednesday, I left my step-grandma's funeral to go almost straight back to school and finish homework until about 11:30, only to get up at 7 the next morning to squeeze a little more homework in before I went to a full day of class (9 am - 6 pm). Thursday night I was preparing for a test and a presentation I had today, followed by a meeting for a youth ministry summit, which I found myself having very little, actually no input for. I realized that it is time to take a breath. Look back and see God at work in my life. So I don't go on to the next season of life without ever stopping to see and praise God for the work He has done. I have so much to be thankful for, and I am thankful, but I haven't really soaked in who God really is or what He has done lately.

I think it is time to look back a little bit and remember. Please, don't miss out on the little things that are really very big things if you would just allow them to be. Go on top of a mountain and be on that mountain even if it is just for an hour or two. You won't regret it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Silver Lining

Whenever things get tough people usually say that there is a silver lining somewhere. Well things have been a little rough around here. My step-mom, Anita's, mom is not doing well, she was just taken to Hospice a couple days ago, my mom's basement flooded about a month ago, then just this past weekend the water heater broke and released water over the carpet that wasn't wet, and I just found out that my step-brother's house was broken into just a day or two ago! Not much good sounding stuff there.

Well, for those of you who don't know, I am going on a short term missions trip to England in May. Today was our first team meeting for that, so I was able to meet the people on my team for the first time, I think I'm going to like this trip!

When I got out of the meeting, I was getting ready to leave the building to go back to my dorm when I saw one of our professors, whom I am friends with, he is also my small group leader, his name is Steve Carr. He waved me into the office he was in and informed me that he was just in a preachers board meeting for the school and they were discussing scholarships and he brought my name up to them and mentioned that I was a pretty good kid. Then he told me that they decided to give me an $800 scholarship! Who couldn't use that?

Now this would be good news any day, but the timing of it was just great! That is what we call a silver lining. Though it doesn't replace or fix everything that is going on, it is a little wink from God letting me know that He is still with me! It feels pretty good.

Just an encouraging scripture for anyone else going through anything difficult right now:

Romans 5:2-5: "And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom His has given us."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Do It Different

Change. It's not always a bad thing, but it is something that happens often.

Many changes are going on around me:
1. We got a new senior minister at the church I am working with
2. Many of my close friends are farther from me right now
3. I'm looking for opportunities to do an internship
4. Our school has come out with a "Spiritual Development Plan" for this year

When we think of change we often have negative connotations to it. There is something that rises up within us that has something to do with fear of the unknown. We aren't sure if what we do will actually make a difference or if it does, will it be a good difference? The saying, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" comes to mind here. But my question is, what if there is something better. What if even though we have experienced great things, what if there is something more for us to experience?

I am going to do something I never thought I would do. I am going to quote Winnie the Pooh when he said, "if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got."

This quote has rang through my head since I first heard it a year ago in my class Church Growth and Planting. There is much truth and depth to these words, but it's so simple that we just don't even think about it as we continue on in our typical routine that we are familiar with and have been familiar with for years.

I was a part of a change over the summer. I was helping a friend of mine develop some changes in his student ministry and lead through them. There has been a need for change for several years. The student ministry had leveled off about 3 years ago and even started declining in the past year. My friend, Jason, was hired on a year ago and asked not to change things immediately but to evaluate where things were, study what needed to be done, and then after a year make some changes. He did a great job evaluating and looking at things to do and he finally, after much reading and planning, came up with some things that needed to be changed. The thing which perplexed me the most was the night he cast the vision and the need for the changes he was implementing. For the most part people were supportive, however, there was a family who was very outspoken about how there was no reason to make the changes he was making and she even pointed out how every other church in the area was not doing the things that we were planning on doing. The problem was that every other church in the area had leveled off on their attendance and effectiveness to reach people with the Gospel.

If you do what you've always done, you will get what you have always got.

It reminds me of the movie, Bobby Jones, A Stroke of Genius. Bobby Jones was an incredible golfer early on, before the era of Jack Nicholas and Arnold Palmer. At one point in the movie Bobby is playing in a tournament and gets in a deep sand bunker that has walls towering higher than his head. His first attempt to get out he hits the ball straight into the wall. His second attempt, the same thing, and his fourth. Until finally, his caddy says to him, "You know the definition of insanity, boy? It's doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting to get different results."

It is easy and natural to do what we have always done, because it is familiar to us, but when we do that we will reach a certain point and level off, where we get the same results every time.

Even when things are going well and you are growing (not just in your organization, but also in your life, as a person), it is necessary to learn to change. In 1997 Tiger Woods won the Masters by a record number of strokes and the next year changed his swing, because he knew that if he wanted to continue to be successful he would have to change the way he played.

I have begun to implement some changes in my own life after hearing some of this. I realized I was allowing myself only to be influenced by the teachings of one preacher and one or two professors. I understand that it is good for me to be close to and listen to these people, but they are limited on what they can teach me because they are each only one person. So, I started listening to other preachers, which is easier now than it has ever been thanks to iTunes, as well as really soaking up other professors.

Furthermore, I have been exploring different places to go on an internship. While I have learned a lot from being in the Greater Dayton area, I will be limited if I don't experience how people in other places, with different styles of leadership work to influence others. I have sought out 2 different internships thus far and neither of them are too close to home. While I will miss my family and friends around here, I understand that it is necessary if I want to expand my leadership ability.

Change is going to happen, it could be good, but you may not know if you try to fight it the whole time! Embrace change, look for ways you can change to make it to the next level, you will be surprised at the things you are capable of.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Who is "Mossy Creek and Cracked Walnuts?... Oh yeah, that's Jordan"

I know you are all thinking, "My lands, this boy posts once a year"... and you are right, it has been quite some time. Believe it or not, I have for the most part been keeping up with all of you via blogs, I just haven't felt that I have had anything worth while to talk about. But I figured I would just give you a little update on my life as of late!

Let's start back in January... I got a job as a "part-time interim youth minister" at a small church in Kettering, OH (pretty sweet title, I know). It's not too far from my home church in Beavercreek, so I have been able to come home and visit the family most weekends through out this past semester. Since they only needed someone for Sunday mornings, I got a partial internship with my home church as well (Beavercreek Christian Church). A partial internship being that I only come in on weekdays and I help out the youth minister and do some stuff on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights with him and go on the special outings such as a canoe trips, the Beach waterpark, and Ceadarpoint trips... etc. (Along with this internship my grammer has gone down as well, if you haven't noticed...! The internship is going really well, I have learned a lot from doing it and I am excited about what the new staff is doing with my old stomping grounds (since I have graduated they have hired a new senior minister and a new youth minister).

In the last 4 weeks I have been to a high school week of camp, jr. high week, and this week I have been doing vbs at the Kettering church. VBS is fun, but I am ready for tonight to be the last night! Needless to say I am ready for a vacation... and that's what I'm getting, tomorrow I am leaving with my momma and Bruce and we are heading down to Hilton Head, South Carolina! We are going to be there for a week with Bruce's two kids and their families, so it should be a pretty good time!

I have had several opportunities to preach in the past couple months and it has been a great learning experience. The best part of preaching is not the affirmation people give right after you speak, but it is hearing the stories of what people are doing with what I say. It has been so neat to see God at work in this avenue of my life, because I honestly don't feel like I have that much to say, but then I hear that my words have really impacted people to do something different and I am blown away because I know that they heard God speaking through me. At the jr. high camp I went to I had the privilege to speak at a main session and present the Gospel. That was the best speaking experience I have had yet, the response from the students immediately was an incredible reward!

Other than hanging out with kids much younger than myself, I haven't really been up to a whole lot. I am looking forward to school starting soon, in about a month. Believe it or not I only have 2 more semesters of classes and an accredited internship to do and I am done! So, I'm going to be looking for an internship for next summer, so if anyone hears of anything, let me know!

Now I have some Chick Fil A calling my name, so I am off here! Love you all.