Tuesday, October 2, 2012

20 Greatest Hymns of All-Time

Trying to come up with a list of top hymns has been about 8 years in the making. It started with a conversation that came out of a game called "Encore." The game basically has two teams going back and forth trying to sing at least 6 words of a song that contains some type of word. For example:
The word is "magic."
Team 1-- "Do you believe in magic in a young girl's heart..."
Team 2-- ""Puff the Magic Dragon lived by the sea..."
Team 1-- "Every little thing she does is magic..."
As we played this game, my dad and family friend Ralph went back and forth singing songs well after the game was over. They sang many hymns that I had never heard before, but were apparently "some of the best." This led to us wanting to come up with a "best of" list of great hymns.
Every now and then I'd think about creating a list, but never did. Recently, in a moment of curiousity, I put up a question on Facebook. "What are the greatest hymns of all time?" All sorts of responses came in, with over 30 comments being made. Some songs I have on my list, some I had never heard of before, some I had forgotten about.

Obviously lists like this are subjective. This is my list. I think these hymns have deep theological meaning, have withstood the test of time, and are memorable (I'm still whistling the tune or singing the words, off key of course, after I hear them). Still, here is my list, in alphabetical order:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Music-- Take It or Leave It

If you’ve ever driven in a car with me, you know I don’t like to listen to music. If I do have music on, it has to be on low, because I’d rather have conversation, then sing or listen to music.

In fact, in the past, I’ve even gone as far as saying “If I never heard another song, I’d be OK. When it comes to music, I can take it or leave it.” And I meant it. Music has never been a big part of my life. I’ve never cared that much for it.

But over the past few months, my view on music has been changing. Here’s part of the reason why (emphasis mine):

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Raw, Real, and Relevant

That’s life, isn’t it?
  • It’s Raw. Tender and sensitive.
  • It’s Real. Actual and honest.
  • It’s Relevant. Messy and important.
The more I realize that, the more it shapes how we do ministry at Hillsboro. The more I invite that R3 attitude and create that R3 environment, the more I feel the weight of sin and brokenness in our world today. At the same time, as I take my eyes off of the wilderness of this life and put them back on the Cross, I know Christ has defeated all those issues and problems permanently.

I think teenagers today can get very tired of “canned” and “polished” messages at church and youth group (I’m not advocating winging it or preparing last minute, but a different type of preparing. I’ll talk more on this in a later post).  They want to see struggle. They want to see pain. They want to know they are not alone in whatever it is they are going through. So we opened our Wednesday nights to the questions that are really on their hearts. And I wanted to share a few with you, to open your eyes as mine have been opened, just what raw, real, and relevant questions teenagers today are going through. I ask that you pray for this generation of teenagers daily, because, yes, times are different today than when you or I were a teenager, but the pain and the hurt and the struggles are very , very similar.

Here’s a few of their questions:
  • How do you overcome very challenging temptations? I know getting into the Bible/trusting in God helps, but sometimes I still can’t overcome it.
  • What does it look like to be fearful of God?
  • How should someone deal with jealousy in a godly way?
  • Why is the resurrection important?
  • How can I let go of worldly things?
  • Where do I begin when telling a friend about God?
  • How do I deal with an in-your-face atheist?
  • Is there an unforgiveable sin?
  • What is the Holy Spirit?

Those are just a few. As I look over the list of questions I received, the overwhelming majority start with “How” or address a doctrinal issue. How do I lead my friends to Christ? How do I live above reproach? How can I overcome sin and temptation? What is the resurrection? What is the trinity? What is the Holy Spirit?

Church: Our students need your wisdom, teaching, and life experience more today than ever before. How can you help answer these raw, real, and relevant questions, based on the grace and truth that God has given you?

Starting Up Again

It's been a long time since I blogged. I'm going to start up again. My writings are usually random, not well-written, and will contain error. That's my life. But by the grace of God, I hope He uses these in a way that I can't.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm a Martha (or What I Learned on Missions Trip Day 1)

I've read this a bunch of times and said: "I'll never be like Martha." I'll never get so concerned with being busy and getting things done that I'll forget to keep the main thing the main thing...

...then I led a missions trip. I feel like a sweaty heathen just typing this (unrelated but sort of side note: I am sweaty). But I did the "Martha" thing and got so caught up in the logistics of making this week as "error" free as I thought it should be and I stopped focusing on the goal. I got cranky (not having my usual afternoon cup of coffee didn't help either) and I fell short.

Luckily, I have some good friends in my wife and Don Meckley, along with the message from Neil McClendon that remind me to stop being a "Martha" and be a "Mary".

Where have you been a "Martha" recently?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Teenagers' Top Needs

Youth Specialties surveyed 20,000 Christian kids attending a Missions-type camp to rank their "dying needs." Their answers are surprising and challenging- and worth a close look by parents and leaders alike.

Teenagers’ Top Needs
We asked Christian teenagers to scan a list of 20 “needs” in their life, then rank them from one to seven according to how strongly they’d like that need to be met. The lower the number, the higher the desire for the need to be met. We wanted them to differentiate between “dying” needs and “nice to have but not that important” needs. Here’s how the numbers added up….
Top Needs (Description) Teenagers (Average)
1. I need help building a positive relationship with God
2. I need help building a positive relationship with my parents
3. I need help managing or dealing with the stresses in my life
4. I need someone to help me answer some of my big doubts
about the Christian faith
5. I need help understanding the Christian faith better
6. I need help in knowing how to share my faith with friends and others
7. I need help with my academics
8. I need help figuring out my future choices (college, job, career, marriage, etc)
9. I need help dealing with depression
10. I need help with my overwhelming commitments
11. I need help dealing with the pain I feel in life
12. I need help developing more and better friendships
13. I need help ending my dependence on drugs or alcohol or tobacco
14. I need help with making better moral choices in my life
15. I need help in receiving forgiveness for things I’ve done
16. I need help with living a healthier lifestyle—eating better and exercising
17. I need help with time management and discipline in my life
18. I need help resolving conflicts
19. I need help sorting out sexual issues (sexual activity, gender issues, homosexuality, etc.)
20. I need help with girlfriend/boyfriend issues

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

YouPick- "How Do I Hear From God?" Notes

This is the first time I'm doing this: Putting my speaking notes for all to see. Maybe you missed something I said, or needed to look back and re-read something, or maybe you just want to criticize me for how much I stink at speaking (wouldn't be the first, or last). Whatever you are using it for, know this: I make mistakes, but I'm learning. My notes may seem scattered, and may include things I didn't actually say, for some reason or another, so deal with it. I'm not editing them, because I don't have time, or the will power, to do that. It's raw, it's real, and it's a repeat of what I talked about Sunday. Enjoy! (Side Note: This one is a lengthy one. Most aren't quite this long.)

Here's the link to our Student Ministry website, where you can download the file.: www.hillsborostudents.com

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Passing on Grass

The grass I'm referring to is the kind the horses that reside in the field next to my house eat. It provides nourishment, energy, and meets the essential need they have in eating.
I came across this blog post by Chris Elrod and thought it was "grass" that needed to be passed on. I have been frustrated with a few of these myself. Enjoy.

There is some stuff I just cannot comprehend.  Try as I may to get it…it doesn’t make any logical or Scriptural sense. Here is a partial of things I do not understand.
  1. Folks that show up to church only a few times a year but expect the pastor to drop everything to provide them with his undivided attention.
  2. People that put nothing in the offering plate but still have the stones to expect that their opinions on the church should count.
  3. Parents who ground their children from church or the youth group…the very things that could help them with their behavior, future and afterlife.
  4. People that expect the pastor to tolerate their political views…but leave the church because of his.
  5. The occasional volunteer that expects the church to throw a parade in their honor just because they finally did what the Bible commanded.
  6. People that have basked in the grace of God…but fail to give grace to anyone else.
  7. Pastors that leave one church for another…for better pay.
  8. The need for church growth plans, programs, books, conference, seminars and resource kits…when we already have the Bible
  9. Women that tolerate their husbands having multiple affairs…”for the sake of the kids”.
  10. Pastors that would rather be political pundits or civil rights leaders…instead of just preaching the life-saving message of the Word of God.
  11. People that have one spiritual standard for their pastor…and another for themselves.
  12. Folks that think the word ‘disciple’ is a noun…and not a verb.
  13. People that make comments about needing to go “deeper” in God’s Word…as if there is a Scripture in the Bible that isn’t deep.
  14. Pastors that think accountability means never asking them the tough questions or taking the hard line when it comes to their failure to follow Scripture.
  15. Men that think being the head of the household has something to do with the amount of money they are bringing in or the title they acquire at work.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Graham Cracker

Here's a short message I just read from Billy Graham:

Billy Graham said: "Many people argue, 'I do believe in Christ. I believe in the Church, and I believe in the Bible. Isn't that enough?' No! You must receive Christ.
I may go to the airport. I have a reservation. I have a ticket in my pocket. The plane is on the ramp. It is a big, powerful plane. I am certain it will take me to my destination. They call my flight three times. I neglect to get on board. They close the door. The plane takes off. I am not on the plane. Why?

I believed in the plane, but I neglected to get on board. That's just it! You believe in God, Christ, the Bible, and the Church (James says, "Good, even the demons believe that--- and shudder!") --- but you have neglected to actually receive Him in your heart. Your belief has been an impersonal, speculative thing, and you have not entrusted yourself to Him."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sunday Night Reflections

As Sunday has past, I figured I'd start sharing some highs and lows of the past day. No order. No promises that I'll do this every Sunday. No rhyme. No reason. No Mercy!
Ok... some mercy.
  • Third straight week with more than 10 in morning Bible Study. Previous average- 5. What led to the increase? Well I'd love to say it was my awesome teaching and riveting message, but that'd be lying. It's probably more due to the fact that we have Krispy Kremes each week. I'll say this: The way to a teenager's heart is through their stomach. Have their bellies full, and they'll listen... for a minute or two. But that's a minute more than usual... so I'll take it.
  • New study for Bible study: Crazy Love by Francis Chan. That guy has so much passion and passion is contagious!
  • There are 350,000,000 galaxies (conservatively) yet God still wants a relationship with us. Blows my mind.
  • Stories relate Bible truths to everyday life better than anything. That's why Jesus used them.
  • Peter denied Christ 3 times. We've done it much more than that with our lives, yet God still loves us.
  • God knew Peter (and you and I) would fail so many times, even before he ever saved us, yet he still loves us.
  • Stolen from Perry Noble: Sometimes God says, “Don’t pray, OBEY!”  In other words…there ARE some things in life that we do not have to pray about…where God’s Word speaks CLEARLY there is no need to pray…just a need to obey!  (For example…we don’t need to EVER pray about whether or not we need to have sex with someone we are not married to…God’s answer is always “NO!”)
  • Stop "praying the prayer" and start living the life! Once saved, always saved. Live like it!
  • "Every dollar is an opportunity."- Pastor Alan Thompson
  • Our students took gave 19.37 opportunities to go towards our "adopted" kids Meena and Jean Fritzer!
  • I'm really pumped about going to The Master's Inn for a few days to spend time with other youth pastors. Looking forward to some good idea swapping, brainstorming, and an overall punch in the arm. 
  • Not looking forward to being away from my wife for two nights. We've only done it one other time since we've been married and it stinks!
And one insight from Monday:
  • Cured the "Holy Hangover" that Monday brings after a full day of giving on Sunday by spending time in God's Word, reading AW Tozer, and eating breakfast with a bunch of really awesome high school students. They were with me as I experienced my first Bodo's Bagel!