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Philippians 1

Have you ever started reading a passage and then you couldn’t really get much further? As if God was showing you something, but not sure what it is. Like you want to keep reading, however you don’t have peace about moving forward. I’ve been there recently… and you guessed it: Philippians 1 (Title gave that one away). You can read the entire chapter at the bottom of this post.

The more I do this ministry stuff, the more I find times of needing encouragement (ever feel that way?). So, I try to take a slow methodic approach towards the scriptures, to seek for God’s encouragement through it all. And man… I look at Paul, who is encouraging others! Oh, and when he is in a slew of craziness… Wait what… Maybe I need to take Paul’s example and to gain encouragement through my crazy, I need to encourage others in their crazy.

philippians_1_3_by_treybacca-d5uwlpl

First thing striking me lately is to Thank God for others: I thank my God every time I remember you. 
Seriously every time? I’ve been taking a good look at the people who have invested into me over the years, and I wouldn’t be who I am without their involvement in my life. Then I start to think about the people I didn’t particularly like on my life journey… Thank God for them too? I’m working on that, and feel I’m making strides towards forgiving them and getting to a point of thanking God for them too.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. 

Prayer! Yeah, we always say it. But what keeps jumping off the page at me, Paul is praying for people to know God better, grow in knowledge & understanding. Also, he is praying they will love God better. When all gets tough, good, happy, sad, tough, strange, awkward, and all those other things, Paul was praying that you and I would learn to Love God better. I don’t know about you, but there are times when I just get selfish. When I want my wants, my way, my ideas… My. My. Me. I. I guess Paul knew we would need to understand MORE of God’s Love to have a deeper and better focus of God’s Love.

Today… I’m going to pray God will fill me up with knowledge, understanding and Love. I’m also going to pray that for you, and Thank God for you!

What’s your reaction to Philippians 1? (That’s just my first couple verses into the chapter!) Let me know what God is showing you in Philippians 1.

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Haz 9.12.12 – Battle Within – week2

Week number 2 into our Battle Within Series at Hazardous. I shared a deeper temptation that I had to battle in my life. Going through difficulties in life makes it hard to understand what God is doing. But years later looking back, I can see how God worked through the tough parts of my life.

Haz 9.12.12 from hazardousmsm on Vimeo.

Haz 9.5.12 – Battle Within

Hazardous kicked off on September 5, 2012 – I had the privilege of giving the first message setting up the first series called Battle Within, which is a series talking about facing temptation. Check it out, offer any critique to help me become a better communicator. Thanks!

Haz 9.5.12 1 from hazardousmsm on Vimeo.

Power in Asking

If you don’t ask, the answer is 100% of the time NO!

It is a new season of trying to scramble and find volunteers. And as someone who is passionate about students, seeing leaders coming alongside those students, seeing students grow in their relationship with Christ, students showing up and inviting their friends, and pretty much all the messy stuff that deals with students. Whew, that’s a lot of focus on students! You get my drift. Being in student ministry, it is very easy to gravitate to what we are passionate about, students.

In this volunteers season, I’ve taken on a new approach, Ask! My comfort zone is to hang out with students all the time and pray fervently to God, ‘Will You send me all the volunteers I need?’ I feel God has shifted my focus a little bit, well a lot o bit. Christ personally called 12 guys to follow Him, to be deeply involved in His ministry, set the expectations high, which gave these guys something to commit to. But Jesus started it all out by asking. Hmmm… So I think to myself, maybe I need to be a little more proactive in my approach to finding the leaders that I want in my ministry.

Over these past couple of years, I’ve built up a confidence and decided to boldly ask adults to step up to the challenge. I’ve worked with leaders of different ministries to find a possible avenue to speak to their audience. It has been a process of sitting down with key leaders and schedule a time to meet with their people. The leg work in meeting with these key leaders is completely valuable, they will open up their ministry as an opportunity for you to seek new volunteers, they will assist in promoting your need for volunteers after you chat with them, and most importantly, they will understand the vision of reaching students and be able to relate that to their audience.

My prayers are out there with you, as you are doing volunteer fairs, going to small groups, various ministries at your church to seek for volunteers. But remember this, don’t forget to Ask them to join you in ministry. Everyone wants an invitation to be part of something that is effective and changing lives, and my guess there are adults in your church that would love the opportunity to do so… so Ask them.

Miracle League with Tristan Pack

tristan and jay
Joys in life come in different ways. A blessing from God doesn’t look the same in all cases. In fact, there are times in this life that we experience more happiness than we thought we would, or could experience in certain situations.

I must say, that last week, I helped out at the Miracle League of the Triangle. To sum up the whole experience, WOW! I had a Great time.

Tristan Pack! That guy! He’s an amazing student who teaches me about loving life and loving God everytime that we get to talk. A while back, his mom suggested I try to make it out to one of his baseball games. Being a guy who loves baseball, I thought I would just have to do that.

Liz and I parked the car and casually strolled into the stands. The facility was perfect for people with disabilities, everywhere you looked, stood, or sat was equipped for anyone. Upon waiting for the current game to end, and waiting for the players from the Braves, we sat and watched the current game.

I quickly noticed, the players set aside all obstacles they battle in life to take some time to enjoy, laugh, and smile while playing baseball. The buddies helping out are dancing around and helping to create a light atmosphere. Every player has their own warm up song, which shows the personality they possess. It is an awesome sight to see.

Tristan rolled up ready for the big game. He plays for the Braves, #7, left handed batter, and played right field, but prefers shortstop. We chatted and mentally prepped for the game, which meant he introduced me to everyone that he knows. Bryson is one of Tristan’s good friends, who gladly welcomed the conversation.

To my surprise, Tristan sang the national anthem. Our team batted first. Hit after Hit. We are making this happen. Tristan and I get ready to bat, swing! It’s a hit down first base line. I run with him to first and quickly make a run for second! Yeah, we got a double. During a Chicken Dance intermission, we were back into the game. The next batter hit it down third base line and we were able to score! Big time!

We played in the outfield, which had some action. Got the ball, and threw it in. Good times.

Everywhere Tristan needed to be, I was right there along with him. We shared in the smiles, high fives and excitement of the game. It was one of those memories that I wish to remember for a long long time.

You see, in this whole experience, I get filled with this whole emotion. One of great joy, joy exploding at the smiles, laughs, dancing, and happiness. But I also get a sadder emotion of why am I so lucky. I think about the life that I live, then compare to the life many of these players live out everyday. As I sit there in that sad state for a moment, I’m quickly pulled out of it by the joy side of things again. I get down to the part that God has made each of these players in His image as well. Many of them have a joy overflowing that I wish I had. They surely know how to have a good time.

Overall in my experience with Miracle League of the Triangle with Tristan Pack was amazing and challenging. Thank you for the opportunity and lesson on life. I’m proud of Tristan, his team, all the parents, and all of the players at Miracle League. Way to go!

Here’s a link to a video of the night as well –
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150823105691070
Photography & Video Credit – CJ Barone

Hazardous Baptisms Yet again

Baptism is an outward expression of the commitment these students have made with God. Choosing to do this in an atmosphere like Hazardous is not only inspiring but courageous. 18 brave students and 1 leader in front of 400+ witnesses confessed their love and commitment to follow Jesus Christ.

The beginning of the night starts out the same, loud and proud Hazardous. Where we cover songs students hear on the radio, sing some rocking songs in an act of worship and play some messy and loud games to get everyone to smile and enjoy themselves.

It was such an awesome sight witnessing many small group leaders getting the opportunity to baptize their students. To think that our leaders have connected with their students in such a way, that they feel honored by having their small group leader baptize them. This is the church developing disciples and baptizing them, right out of Matthew 28.

The nitty gritty: 17 people stepped forward to share with everyone they made a decision in their heart to follow Christ. Out of those 17, 1 was a small group leader who decided he needed to set the example for his guys, then turned around and baptized one of them. Over all 10 small group leaders baptized a student from their group. A older brother baptized his younger sister. A middle schooler baptized her best friend. 5 High School students represented by baptizing middle school students. Just an awesome site to see, disciples baptizing their students. This is the CHURCH!

If you have a Middle school student or would like to help out with Hazardous, You will be blessed and blown away by the force of Middle schoolers actually wanting to know Christ and learn more about what it means to be a Christian, b/c being one is Hazardous.

Dirty Dog Did What?

Dogs are Awesome! They are so loving! Man’s best friend. They are loyal and friendly. But then they did WHAT? That thing that makes you wonder about what were they thinking. How could they even go there? Do that?

You see the other day, I had an interesting scenario. Sunday, it was a beautiful day to take a walk. Not too sunny, but still pretty. The geese out by the lake. People laughing in the distance, children playing, and a father teaching his son how to fish. Bicycles zooming by and many dogs were enjoying the fresh air with their owner.

Coali was like every other dog that day. Liz, Coali, and I loaded up in the car. It was time to enjoy a walk around Shelly Lake, in Raleigh. We parked and began our adventure. After a brief stop by the geese, we had to feed them you know (I aimed for the ducks), we continued along with our stroll.

A path off the main trail caught my attention. I thought it would be a grand idea to take the adventure before us. While keeping on this narrow way, Coali caught a smell. The kind where she NEEDS to sniff it up. She ventured past some jagger bushes. Then the inevitable happened.

“Coali, What Are You Doing?” I exclaimed. To see that she was rolling around on the ground. My first thought was a dog poop. Then I saw something, eww a dead snake maybe. Thinking to myself, ‘Coali, you are gross.’ Then before my eyes, I saw what was even worse, a decaying body of a fish. There were bugs all over it and left a horrendous smell.

The walk back to the car, car ride, and getting her into the shower was not a pleasant experience. By far one the worst stenches I could ever imagine, but it was real. Eww. Coali, what were you thinking.

After some time to cool down, it made me think about it. What do I do now? Do I show love to my dog? Do I take her on a walk again? Will we ever go back to the dreaded Shelly Lake?

Of course I will. I will love her and take care of her.

When it comes to ministry, we invest so much time into students (or your ministry). We build up so much care, love, & compassion. Then one day, you observe the student make a crazy decision. They go in a direction that is like… “NO, what are you doing?” as you think to yourself.

In this moment, you have a chance to offer Hope, Love, and give them a sense that you still support them. I feel that when people go down a path that is unhealthy for them, that the church or people involved in their lives turn their back on them. When in reality it is a time when they need someone more than ever. We have the opportunity to be the HOPE for someone when they are in a HOPELESS situation.

In thinking about all of this, I am trying to be observant to the people in my ministry and life that I might need to step in a little more to help show them HOPE, instead of standing back and showing them a cold shoulder.

I’m grateful to have a dog that is willing to teach me lessons.

What do you think about this? Agree? Disagree? How do you show HOPE and LOVE, even when it is difficult?

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