Saturday, January 24, 2015

Final Step from New Orleans

On Monday, our high school ministry will take the final step in concluding our work in New Orleans. I will be traveling there to retrieve the Gladeville Baptist Church Mobile Shower Unit - or as we’ve lovingly called it for 10 years - The Shower Trailer. 

When we began this work in New Orleans a decade ago, we could not have known the impact it would have on our students. Our focus there became a critical part of our missions strategy for our high school ministry. And when I made the final arrangements this week to go get the shower trailer, I must tell you that it was a bittersweet experience - certainly an emotional one. There’s a finality about this last step in the journey that makes our God-led decision to move away from NOLA a reality.

What’s interesting is that it is the same for our host church, Metairie Baptist. Their pastor, Thomas Strong, told me that it is bittersweet for them as well. While they have treasured their relationship with us as much as we have treasured ours with them - that trailer is one of very, very few remaining icons reminding them of Hurricane Katrina. Clearing that small patch of ground where the shower trailer has rested for so long is another step their church can take to move forward - past the memories of such a horrific time in the lives of so many.

So while this last step has a bit of sadness attached to it, it is also a happy time. We are so grateful for what has transpired in a city that was for so long a second home to a bunch of high school kids and leaders from Gladeville, TN. Please join me in thanking God for the tiny role He allowed us to play in serving the people New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish. He is still shaping the future of our next long-term missions efforts for high school ministry at The Glade Church. I’m looking forward to following His lead again.

Please let me know if there’s something I can pray about for you or your family.

- Michael

Friday, January 16, 2015

I See Myself In My Son

From the title of this post, you might imagine that this is going to be a heart-warming moment for you…a moment where I share about the beautiful ways I see my son following in the footsteps of his daddy. I wish that were true. Actually, what God has revealed to me lately in the mirror image that my son is for me is how much I’m “getting it wrong.” Hear me, I do my best to model a life of Christ for my eight year old, but it sure is difficult to do all of the time.

This week in particular I have noticed how he responds to things that he does not like. There are the eye-rolls, the deep sighs, and the unhealthy way that he tends to handle confrontation…all things that when I see them - it’s like looking in a mirror. It makes me think of how many times he has watched me do those same things. Or even worse - it makes me wonder how many times he has been the target of that behavior from me. Real encouraging, right? I think not.

I’d like to challenge you to look at the lives of your high school students and see what characteristics you see in them that remind you of you. Then take a chance on being vulnerable with them and tell them that you struggle with those same things. Let them know that when you respond or react in a way that is unfavorable, it not only does not honor Christ, it’s setting a poor example for them. I think they might be relieved at your naming what they probably already know about you. And it would do them good to see you attempting to rectify those reactions…it might even motivate them to do the same.

Don’t forget that signups are going on right now for our weekend trip to Gatlinburg in February. Space on this trip is EXTREMELY limited, so please get your deposits in this Sunday. 

Let me know if there’s anything I can pray about for you or your family.

- Michael

Friday, January 9, 2015

I'm Reading The Bible

Hello HS Parents!

Well…it’s been a while. I hope those of you actually read these emails/blog posts will forgive the hiatus I took last quarter in sending/posting them; I am sorry. I’ve climbed back in the saddle, though, and I’m ready to go with the first email/post of 2015: I’m Reading the Bible.

As a Twitter user, there are several different people whose lives I connect with (at least digitally) on a daily basis. Students, pastors, friends, organizations, churches, comedians, bloggers, musicians - there are TONS of Twitter accounts begging to be followed, and I choose to follow a select, but rather eclectic, sampling of them. One of these accounts spoke directly and profoundly into my life last year.

An old friend of mine who is also a student pastor was using a Bible reading plan in YouVersion…similar to the one we are using as a church this year to read through the Bible. Every morning when I would check my Twitter feed, I would see a Tweet from this guy’s account that he had completed the daily reading for the plan he was using. And for some reason, I found it SO encouraging! 

Now, hear me - I read the Bible. Sometimes I read LARGE chunks of it in one setting. Sometimes I read it to research a question I’ve received from a student or parent. Sometimes I read it to study for a message or Bible study. Sometimes I even read it because I enjoy re-reading an old story I learned as a child (David and Goliath…I mean, come on! Now THAT’S a story!) But something struck me every time I saw this guy’s daily Bible reading post/tweet. 

I wondered, for example, if other people were encouraged by it like me. I wondered if some people found it convicting because reading God’s Word was not a regular practice for them. I also wondered if people thought he was being a little “holier-than-thou” by posting it. I suppose that was possible. But his posts always left me encouraged, AND INSPIRED, to grab a copy of Scripture and give it a read. 

This year I’ve started in on the Bible reading plan that our church has adopted for 2015. I started with two specific intentions: 1-reading it, AND 2-tweeting that I had done so. I read the first three days before I was finally able to click the “Share” link on the fourth day and share my progress. I must admit - it’s a little intimidating. I mean it took me three readings to get the courage to do it. I was pretty fearful. What if I can’t keep up? What if people think I’m trying to be hyper-religious or self-promoting? I guess those are great questions. But here are some others that have lodged in my spirit:

What if people are challenged to read God’s Word because they know I am? What if people are encouraged to “catch-up” if they’ve fallen behind in their reading (because I’m sure I will)? What if they, like I was with my friend, can be encouraged and inspired to read God’s Word because they know I’m reading it? What if my posting every single day can communicate what I really believe about God’s Word - that it changes EVERYTHING…that it speaks to every situation in life and offers Hope (in Christ) that no other medium can provide?

I want to ask you, as a fellow parent, to join me in reading God’s Word in 2015. I want to give you permission to ask me if I’m keeping up with the daily reading when we pass each other in the hallways at church. I want to challenge you email, text, or send a smoke signal of thoughts, questions, and insight provoked by your reading of His Word. I’d love to do this - together with you - for 2015. Would you join me?

Here’s a link to the YouVersion plan we are in for January.

To catch you up on what’s going on in our high school ministry:

This Sunday we will be continuing our focus on The Story of God’s Kingdom. We’ll be answering questions like:

1 - Why is it important to not only have faith, but to have faith in Someone with the power to save?

2 - How much attention to you give how you look on the outside versus how you look inside your own heart?

3 - In what ways could you offer hope to someone who has a hard time believing in God’s forgivness?

Signups will begin Sunday for our Gatlinburg trip in February. You should be receiving something in the mail about it today or tomorrow.

As always, please let me know if you have anything you’d like for me to pray about for you or your family.

- Michael