Thursday, October 27, 2011

XLM Costume Party 2011

Last night was our 4th annual XLM Costume Party and it was a huge hit!  Over 140 high school and middle school students showed up in costume and ready to have a blast!  

This event is so fun to put on because of all the creative costumes that the students come up with.  To name a few... a Hersey's Kiss, dry cleaning, Buddy the Elf, a lizard, a Starbucks drink, and so many more.  

Lots of first time guests too!  Our students did a great job of bringing their friends which gave us an opportunity to expose them to our ministry and let them know what we're all about as a church.  More pictures are on our XLM Facebook Page.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Identity Strongholds - Part 2: Performance & Acceptance

This week at XLM we looked at two identity strongholds.  (watch message here) To base our identity on performance or acceptance is a tragic mistake.  Why?  They are strongholds and they are destructive in two ways:
1) They trap us into believing lies.  We fear what people think which keeps us from living our full potential in Christ. 
We tell ourselves lies:   My worth is determined by the opinions of others.   I will protect myself from the pain of rejection by putting up walls.  I will do whatever it takes to gain approval from others.  These are traps.  Proverbs 29:25  Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.  We are either fearing people or trusting in the Lord.

2) They lead us to disobey God.  We’ll disobey God to keep people happy with us if that’s what it takes to gain approval.  John 12:42‑43  But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.  

How do we overcome these strongholds?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Too Legit to Quit

I recently came to the realization that I am old and out of touch.  This diagnosis, at age 26, was given to me by one of the high school students in my youth ministry that I lead.  I used the word, "legit" to describe someone and was told I was neither young enough nor cool enough to use such a term.  

After I got over the initial shock of my new lower social status I was somewhat relieved.  If the students I minister to aren't expecting me to be just like them, then I don't have to be.  

And I shouldn't be.

Those of us who work with students sometimes struggle with being "cool enough" to relate to "young people."  The truth is, we will never be "cool enough" and that should NOT be our main goal. 

The students don't need a peer in us and they don't need us primarily to be a "buddy."  What they really need (and want) is for us to care about their lives, invest time and energy in them, listen to them, share some of our wisdom and life experience with them and point them to Jesus.

That's legit in my book (don't tell them I used that word).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Identity Strongholds - Part 1

We all believe things that are not true.  Sometimes we base our identity on assumptions about God and ourselves that are not true.  

At XLM this Sunday we began looking at the three ways we build our identity on untruths. If you missed this week, check out the message by clicking here. Please add your comments about what strongholds have held you back.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
 3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  

What is an identity stronghold?   When we define ourselves based on something other than Christ and what he says about us.  We become like prisoners locked by deception… there is no lock on the cell, but we stay in it.   Imagine a dog that is has a shock collar, but there is no electric current going through the fence.  The dog will still not approach the fence because; based on past experience, he is sure he would be shocked by the electricity.   The dog thinks he’s trapped because of his experience.   Our strongholds can deceive us and keep us from living to our full extent in Christ.

We mess up when we base our identity on one of three identity strongholds:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I'm Not Here "To Keep Them Busy"

When I meet people and they ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I'm a youth pastor, and I usually get one of two responses:

1) I could never work with teenagers!

2) That's great, you gotta keep teenagers busy.

That second comment makes me chuckle a bit.  Ministry is reduced to "keeping teenagers busy" as if they would vandalize store fronts and run a muck in the streets if we didn't have free coffee and live music for them on a Friday night.

My students are plenty busy.  Sports, school activities, AP classes, clubs, traveling teams, friends, etc.  The last thing they need is another activity.   

I'm dealing with the Kingdom of God, Heaven and Hell, eternal truths... there is way more at stake than just "keeping people busy."

It is because of this that I cast the student ministry's vision to my students and the church body a few times a year.  I want them to constantly be confronted with what God has called us to do, why we're doing it, and what their part is.

If it's not "keeping teenagers busy", then what are we trying to accomplish as a student ministry?  XLM exists to fulfill the mission of CBC which is to glorify God by making fully-devoted disciples of Christ.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Gospel is Deep

As a Bible teacher, I am tempted to complicate the truth of God's Word by being "deep."  I work hard to say something "profound" or something that "no one has heard quite that way before."

But sometimes everyone just leaves confused.

The gospel is deep on it's own.  I don't have to make it deep, it just is.  I don't have to make it profound, it is inherently profound.  

When we open the Bible to speak into people's lives our job is to point to the glorious message of the gospel - that we were dead but God has given us new life in Jesus Christ.  Get your people to SEE it, to LIVE it, and to KNOW it so well that it changes the whole course of their lives.

That's deep.  That's profound.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Photos of Wedding - Laurie Bracewell

Our best friends in the bridal party
Laurie Bracewell did the photos for our wedding.  She is one of the most gifted wedding photographers in the Northern Virginia/DC area.

Her photos capture moment so well.  In fact, when Rachel and I looked through her blog of our photos w
e were both in tears as we relived the day through her amazing pictures and thoughtful captions.

I wanted to share a few of my favorites, and I've also attached a link to her blog with more of our wedding photos posted!
 Check out her blog here: Laurie Bracewell Photography

I seriously have the most beautiful bride on the planet.

XLM Reach Week w/ Erik Bledsoe

While I was on my honeymoon, Erik Bledsoe spent some time with our students and had a tremendous impact!  

Erik is a Christian musician, song-writer, evangelist and conference speaker based out of Nashville, TN.  

He has a unique connection with our students that started two years ago when he led worship at New Camp for the first time.  

From there, he's been with us at Fall Retreat two years in a row and again at New Camp.  He is the real-deal when it comes to hands on ministry with the people.  I would HIGHLY recommend him to any pastors or church leaders.

Honored & Humbled by the CBC Family

Rachel and I could not be more honored and humbled by the outpouring of love from our church family.                                          
CBC family and XLM student ministry went way above and beyond anything we could ever have imagined! 

From a Caribbean-themed wedding shower that included skits, songs and comedy routines.  To dozens of volunteers spending countless hours seeing to it that our day was perfect for us and all who attended, to the 300+ CBC members who showed up to the wedding, to the outpouring of love and support expressed in cards & gifts, and the countless prayers lifted up for us, we are truly blown away by the generosity and love you've shown.  

Rachel and I could never thank the people at CBC enough, but we want you to know we love you and are so thankful to God for you!