Tag Archives: youth

Visions of Service … Power in choosing a ministry for everyone

Be Thou My Vision…  in a couple of days I am going to give a short sermon on “changing the world” to a Men’s Ministry Breakfast…

Yes, changing the world… can one man.. one woman… or one child to that… certainly…

Can “common” people do that… can you do that without million of dollars, without abundant and immense resources? … Yes, definately…

Look at the first Christian church in the world.  It was not made up of the rich, the famous, those of influence, those of importance… No… it was made of of you and me… fishermen, tax collectors, woodworkers, potters, sales people, crafts people… young, old, beautiful, not so much…

But from that first church has grown the Christian movement… the effort to bring the gospel to the whole world…. because the first Christians had passion.. had an abundant and excited love for Jesus Christ.   They wanted everyone to know about him… these were not just people to whom miracles had been done… these were common everyday folks who went out and told the word….

I am think of a few friends who got together some time back.  They thought it would be a good idea to just set up a little booth with food, information, offered prayer, balloons for kids and a message.  They asked an apartment manager if they could set up in his apartment project where the demographic was quite poor… a place where many would say they were in danger.  But they decided to do it anyway….  the first time they set up they were amazed at the turn out… and the spiritual response… The Lord blessed their idea… So they continued… Now when they set up it is a production… lives are changed, souls are saved, medical care is given, counseling is provided and the world is changing because of their influence… a few men and an idea….

I am thinking of a woman with a beautiful spirit, who decided that if she knew about it there would be no child who didn’t have school supplies… so she set out to get donations of school supplies at the local elementary and middle school… Again, she was shocked at the response of the community and the businesses… First, her local two schools benefited… then the abundance of the Lord started pouring in.. so that every Tuesday she and several other devoted women receive and divide school supplies…  soon they had all their schools needed so they branched out… now thousands of kids receive school supplies…

I am thinking of another person who took it upon himself to supply blankets to the homeless on the cold nights of the Houston winter….  the difference here is that this is a boy of 12… he felt he had heard Gods word and decided to ask his parents to go to a local store and purchase basic blankets…  When they went to distribute the blankets they found that there were not enough to do around at all… the boy then started asking companies for blankets and friends for volunteer help… God blessed his work… now he destributes thousands of blankets every winter… lives saved… lives changed through the reality of the love of a little boy…

I am thinking of a person who decided that every senior citizen deserved at least a call a day… to break their loneliness… to insure their safety…. to insure they knew they were loved and cared for in there infirmity… he soon found he couldn’t do it alone because soon others suggested elderly who couldn’t go to church… now nearly one hundred volunteers work out of a church building with a phone bank built with donations calling to check on many, many senior citizens each day… the world has changed because of his good work….

I am thinking of a retired teacher who thought that the kids in her local school could use some math tutoring in the afternoon… Her first afternoon in the library was lonely… but soon one shy little boy came in… he needed help on his fractions…. the next day he brought a friend… then another and another …. the program now serves hundreds of kids in many schools and has raised test scores of students as well as the self-esteem of the kids because one woman cared.

These are all the products of one persons hands…. one persons heart… one persons Holy idea that the Lord blessed immensely because all of them were done in His name and for the least of His children…

Never doubt how you can influence the lives around you..   God has given you all the power and ability you need… he equips those he calls….

Answer the call…. find something that moves you deeply… something that calls out to your heart… something that calls from within your soul… if you look into your heart, soul and listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit your work will be blessed and will truly change the world…


The Power Of a Godly Father in His Son’s Life

I’ve been thinking more about the Redmond video I posted yesterday.   I have to feel that every part of that video is an analogy illustrating something good in the relationship of a father and his son in a very broad sense.  As I go through my work with young people, young men, as a youth pastor, teacher, mentor….. I see so much anger….so many boys who have just gone off the rails… in every case there was no man in the boy’s life…

No father… no mentors…. no role models… no leaders…. no one….

Abandoned kids… abandoned boys…. adrift, angry, like rogues… I recall a fascinating story about a problem in Africa with young bull elephants….

If a young male elephant is raised without a bull elephant around… it seems to lose control… it goes wild…. roaming through the country side with other young rogue adolescent elephants destroying everything in their path… essentially gangs… they are led by their testosterone at its worst…. power without direction…. power unchanneled. 

Apparently, the solution is to capture the crazed adolescent then put it in with fully grown bulls, larger, more powerful, experienced…   so the story goes the bulls will get the young elephant between them just holding it until it calms down… that will be repeated when it gets out of control… nothing horrible… no goring… no damage… the other bulls just restrain the adolescent until it calms enough to follow their example…

Could it be…. possible … that young human males are at least analogous to young elephants…. that without the leadership of a strong father…. they… go wild?    Can a young man become so lost without the example of a father that he strikes out at everything?  I think so. 

I am watching the little league world series… the coaches are miked… what they say to a kid on the field can be heard by millions of people…. a young boy is pitching…. obviously nervous…. not settled…. like a young colt… unsure… frightened….

His coach walks calmly out to the mound, signalling time out as he does… the boy simply stands waiting… the first words out of the coaches mouth are “you are doing great”…. the boy stands with his head down turning the ball…listening to his coach as the coach praises his skill, his character…. as the coach tells him how proud he is of the young pitcher… he gives him a hint about pitching… the camera angle changes… the slight smile on the boys face is visible… his coach pats him on the shoulder and says “you are the best, have fun, just have fun”….  as the coach turns and walks away the boy wipes his sleeve across his eyes… takes a deep breath… stands up straight and strikes out the next two batters….  And I think… it is that simple…  

Derek Redmond was seemingly alone when he started his race for the gold at the 92 Olympics…. but he wasn’t alone… the entire lifetime his father had spent with him was there… in his entire being…. the tenacity his father had taught him….probably just by example…. was with him… but most important…. his father actually was with him…. an appropriate distance away because his son had gone on his way as the Bible teaches that young men must do…. but his father was watching…

Derek had obviously been taught independence… determination… character… because when his father did see he needed help… he came to his side… and when he did…. he said “you don’t have to do this”… but Derek said… “Yes, I do”…..

What happened next… he gave his son just the help he needed… he kept the people who would stop him away… he just removed the stumbling blocks from his path… and he gave him support when he needed it…. but then something even more important happened….

When they approached the finish line Derek’s father let him go…. he released him to let his injured son finish the race by himself….

Derek’s father was being the perfect Biblical example of a father… he had trained Derek up in the way he should go… Derek had already proven that when he said “Yes, I do”…. Derek’s father then allowed his son to be the man he wanted to be by finishing the race alone.  His father could have gone over the finish line with his son…

but he knew something about young men…. they need dignity… they need to feel both supported but strong enough to do it themselves…. and at every opportunity a Godly father will let his son have the responsibility he needs to grow into the man he wants and needs to be…. so that he can carry that responsibility… that sense or ability and confidence into his work life…. his relationship with a woman…. he relationship with other men…. and to be an exemplary father to his own children….

The power of a Godly father in his sons’ life was shown in that simple video…. the power to direct strength…. to teach responsiblity… to teach courage… tenacity… to teach all the traits men need to make it through life… and something else was obvious to me…. though I could not see or hear it… I’m betting that at some point in that run with his father Derek heard the words “I love you son”. ….. “I am proud of you”…  just as I am sure he heard them throughout his life… 

Those all important words… I know… will be repeated to Derek Redmond’s own sons and daughters… as he leads them by the example his father used to lead him.

As a little child….

How can I approach him …. the bible tells me as a little child… and I think…

A long time ago when I was first learning to teach band I was an assistant band director …. low on the food chain…. I taught a second band and a groups of sixth grade musicians…

I’ve always walked the line between friend and teacher very carelessly… it’s just hard to ignore a kid… there was this one child… a drummer… a shy boy… who needed to talk often… I have always talked to my students… I never turned them away…. I had needed someone to listen when I was a boy…

One day this boy walked up to me with tears in his eyes…. I’m moving, he said.. I asked him how long it was going to be …. he said on Friday.

When Friday came he got through class looking sad…. then hung around waiting for the other kids to leave… he walked up to me.. barely in control… shook my hand and said goodbye… I walked him out of the back door of the band hall… As he walked away I told him to remember what a good kid he was and that he was going to be ok…

He walked away…. stopped …. and turned and ran back to me crying… he grabbed me around the chest and sobbed into my shirt.. “You are the only one who cares about me”…. I didn’t know what to say so I just hugged him back… Here was a child who saw something in me worthwhile… for some reason he connected to me.

Maybe at that point in his life he felt I was the only one in his life who cared about him… or more likely he was having a temporarily rough time. 

Either way I received his hug with love, forgetting and forgiving every time he had talked out of turn, every time he had been mischievous, every time he had made a mistake… those things just drifted away… all I knew was that this young boy had somehow come to see in my something worth imitating, something worth loving… and I received him in the way he came.  I felt such a warmth and love  for this child that I would have adopted him on the spot.  All the mistakes, childishness, and minor misbehavior was forgotten.  He also said “I’m sorry for anything I’ve done” through his tears.  And he got complete utter and total forgiveness.  If he had needed another home at that moment I would have adopted him. 

That is how our Lord works…. and what he means when he tells us to come to him as a little child…. we come without guile… running to him to tell him we did wrong and can he forgive us and we receive his forgiveness… without reservation… and from him we receive a home in his heart… we are kept close there… and he prepares another home for us in the future…

In coming to him as a child… we come to him as  someone who has nothing to give and wanting nothing but forgiveness and love… and we receive it…  and he holds on to us and holds us close…. forever…

not sure how this goes…..

Are we ever sure how this goes…. as I listen to Calling all Angels…I am so moved by the line “Are we ever sure how this goes”….

Walk me through this ….  Don’t leave me Lord….

They are leaves in a powerful stream…. kids…. just as I was….

What saved me … a mother who loved me beyond all reason… a father who had to leave far too early…  powerful men who led me when I needed a strong lead to follow….

  How do I help save them…. lost kids…. who have no idea they are lost…. or how lost they are…..

How do I communicate love to someone who hasn’t known love…. the true love that builds strong walls against the tide of darkness coming in so fast…. How can I know when I am right…. is it peace?   Is it logic?  Is it my own human reason…

Their youth is slipping away like a flower fading… the time when they might be malleable…. when change can happen… before habits are to hardened…. to much of their “person”…..

How do I tell them that the right choices will solve their problems when they don’t want to hear about the right choices…..

How do you learn to make the right choices about the small things…. and the eternal things when you have no real home…. no one who can really show you how to live? 

How do you instil vision?  How do you instil beauty?  How to you show what honor is? 

The greatest desire of my heart right now it to find the ways…..

So I think, and I pray and I listen…

I look to His example, how would He have done this?   What words would He have said to the kids in my classes…. and in my ministry….. Lord I need your guidance, your example and your wisdom… I cannot do this myself….


What He did was to courageously step into the teeth of the storm…. which is what I will do tomorrow…. and the next day….

To teach as best I can…. by example….. by love…. by building impenitrable walls when I have to… 

But, to follow his example I must…. because all these kids need Him….. Let him fill me…. 

Because I’m not sure how this goes…..

I’m not sure how this gods…..

Weekends are for small miracles….

In a short while I’m giving a presentation to a youth ministry on giving blessings to others….  

Last night I watched the beautiful movie “Pay it Forward” which I will use as one of the illustrations.  I was stretching for the right words as I wrote the small sermon… It just wasn’t coming easily…. So I decided to let it rest to see what would happen….

This morning as I went to church I went through a Starbucks drive through for coffee… When I got to the window I tried to hand a gift card I had received for Christmas to the young lady…

She said… the guy in front of you paid for your coffee…  he said to either just enjoy your coffee or pay for the guy behind you… I paid for the guy behind me… There was a line of cars.. I would love to know how long it went on… I believe it continued at least through that line.

There are small miracles everywhere is you look for them… this one more obvious than most… I don’t believe in coincidence…  

The words are flowing now…. small miracles… great grace…  

Thank you Father for listening, caring and loving… and for small miracles you give us as shining gifts to let us know you are there… 


Monday Blessings

The last few days of school …. wonderful times…. so much to do….kids to care for…. tests to write….papers to grade…  a time of multitudes of blessings…. but of little time to write…but I’m back, joyous, grateful…

The smile of a kid who has done well on a test

Quiet hours at my desk at home

Dog at my feet

A warm cup of coffee

Snow in Texas in November

The wonder of watching kids catching snowflakes on their tongues

Joy at tough kids turning into children in the snow

Video cameras to capture it

The ability to share it

Spirit of Christmas boys and girls who need gifts

Shopping for spirit of Christmas

Happy people shopping for their loved ones

Selecting gifts for a child I don’t know

Getting a few extra things for the child I don’t know

The spirit of Christmas arriving

A little dog who doesn’t know what to do with snow

Kids rehearsing the Christmas play at Church

Kid laughter

Friends greeting one another

Cold, clean air

Bright skies, crisp days


A toddler trying to give me everything on his plate

That toddler being the son of a former student who I think of as a son

The silence of fog

The silence of snow

Getting in contact with people I love on Facebook

Helping a kid who doesn’t get balancing chemical formulas

Kids joking with me

Me joking with kids

Wonderful people to work with at school

The best relatives I could as for


Warm fire in the fireplace

Coldsprings, Texas

People who talk to you on the street in small towns

The blessing of having enough

Kids who tell you that you are the best

Kids who are the best

Thinking about my mom and dad this time of year

A meal after church with the best friends

Hot Chocolate


The story of the Birth of Christ

Kids playing Joseph and Mary in the church play

Young musicians playing violins and cellos

Praying with people in need


Planning a spring garden

As this Holy Time of  year wraps us in its warmth I find my heart full.  There is so much of which to be thankful…

Once you start thinking about it the spring flows…..







Just thankfulness

twelve… for great and wonderful friends who stand with you….support you….share your heart

thirteen…for the ability to realize that sometimes you can be wrong…when you thought you were right…when you thought your heart was in the right place…

fourteen…for realizing that when you walk away from the imitation of Jesus Christ you walk out of grace…you walk into a failure of love.

fifteen…for quiet conversations about …. really nothing but sharing friendship…sharing past experiences…sharing good goals.

sixteen…for lunch with really wonderful kids

seventeen…for a truth…kids have hearts that are bent in the direction of the daily grace they have received or failed to receive…

eighteen…for a Men’s Ministry devoted to the growth of strong men devoted to the Father…

nineteen…to realize that one cannot teach without establishing a heart connection as well as a brain connection…and that we were taught that centuries ago by the One…

twenty…for that small quiet voice that says maybe that was not the way…not the voice…not the tone…not the whole bushel of concern and love pressed down, extra measure…

twenty-one…that I found this method of worship…contemplation…spiritual discipline… even at fifty-eight…thanks Ann….

twenty-two…watching election results…I wonder how it was that I came to be born here and what a blessing it is that I was born here… of all places…

twenty-three…that my two parents…of all the people in the world met each other…of all the places in time throughout their lives they could have been…they were there…and that my father found the love to ask my mother to be his companion for life… How improbable is our very existence…that we are who we are…that we came to be as ourselves…that there is a plan. 

twenty-five…for quiet…in which to think…to contemplate, worship, pray….to be thankful…