Monthly Archives: December 2014

Middle School Lock-In

Tonight is the annual Middle School Ministry Lock-In. It’s a high energy, sugar and caffeine driven, all-nighter. The night includes all you can eat pizza and pop, a 45 ft inflatable obstacle course, a photo scavenger hunt, messy games, group night games (played in the dark), a movie, and we cap it all off with donuts for breakfast.

I know it sounds crazy…it is crazy! Here are some of the reasons we do it:

  • It’s memorable. Students talk about this event for years to come. Some of the students who have come through our ministry and are in college now, still bring up stories from this event. I think it’s important for students to have fun memories involving church.
  • It’s a relationship builder. Every year, our team ends up having great conversations with students in the wee hours of the night. Spending extended periods of time with people can seriously accelerate relationship development.
  • It’s a great evangelistic tool. We see new students every year. This is an event that students love to bring their friends too. I always do a short gospel presentation and invite students to join us for youth group in the coming year.

Check out our Pit Stop Facebook Page for some pictures from the event.



7 Simple Thoughts on Spiritual Dryness

Spiritual dryness. Probably we have all been there at one time or another. Reading the Bible is like eating sawdust. The church worship service seems boring and irrelevant. Prayers feel like they are just bouncing off the ceiling. God seems distant and silent.


Having been a follower of Jesus Christ for over 40 years (40 years??? Is that even possible? Yikes.) I know I’ve experienced many, many periods of walking through a spiritual desert. Let me offer you a few random observations and nuggets of advice:


  • Don’t panic! Spiritual dryness is common. God still loves you with a relentless, tenacious love! This spiritual dry time will not last forever.


  • Attempt a little self-diagnosis. There can be many different causes for spiritual dryness. Is there blatant sin and compromise in your life? Have you been under a great deal of stress, either at work or in your family life / marriage? Have you been suffering from an acute illness or sheer exhaustion? Usually the dryness is from a combination of a number of different factors. The cure may be as simple as you catching up on your sleep or there may be personal sin that is building a wall between you and God – repentance and confession are the keys for you getting back on the right track.



  • Oftentimes there is no discernible reason why you are dry. It just is what it is. Knowing that isn’t a solution – but maybe it will help you to not feel guilty when there really isn’t anything to feel guilty about.


  • Confide in a trusted Christian friend or mentor. Just articulating your dryness to someone else is often therapeutic and helpful. Their encouragement and prayers will be like a cup of cold water for your soul.



  • Read the Psalms. These ancient Hebrew writings are marked by gut level honesty and emotional transparency. Crying out with feelings of injustice, abandonment and discouragement are common. This book can help you to worship and trust God even in the midst of doubt, anger and confusion.


  • Keep doing what you know to do. Singing songs of praise in church or reading your Bible when you’re totally not feeling it isn’t hypocritical; it’s called being faithful and not letting your emotions determine your conduct.



  • Be hopeful. Oftentimes it is the desert places where we grow the most. When you come out on the other side you will probably have a deeper knowledge of the faithfulness of God and an even greater understanding of his love for you.


“You sent abundant rain, O God, to refresh the weary land.”  Psalm 68:9


Hang in there my friend!



The Humility of Christ

When I think of the story of Jesus birth, I don’t often think about how ordinary it was. To anyone unaware of the details of the story, it was an ordinary situation…nothing spectacular about it. The following passage does a great job of helping us consider this.

Let us imagine that we are with the shepherds on those hills in Palestine. We have seen and heard the angels, and we have begun to run to Bethlehem. We come bursting into the presence of Mary, Joseph, and the baby, and immediately we wonder: what are we looking at?

First of all, we are looking at a true baby. He is not an idea or a religious experience. He is a newborn infant who makes noises and cries when he gets hungry. What we are looking at is real, simple, definite, complete. We are looking at a true baby.

There’s no reason to think that the baby shows any special manifestations. An artist such as Rembrandt can paint him with light emanating from his body, and if we understand the light as symbolic, it is safe enough. But if we think of it as more than that, it is harmful. There is no halo about the baby’s head. Certainly there is no halo around Mary’s head. What we see is a young Jewish mothwer, probably seveenteen or eighteen years old. She may be pretty or she may not be. We see her husband, and we see a little baby who does not show any marks that would distinguish him from any other infant. And yet this little baby we see lying here is the second person of the Trinity. He himself has been God forever. This baby is God who has taken on flesh.

Seeing Jesus with the Shepherds by Francis Schaeffer, From the book, Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus edited by Nancy Guthrie.

The second person of the Trinity in the form of an ordinary (helpless) baby. Such a powerful picture of the humility of Christ. Philippians 2:5-7 reminds us that Christ laid aside his divine privileges and took on human form. Isaiah 53:2 tells us that there was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance…nothing to attract us to him. The reality of that night was that the shepherds saw what looked like an ordinary baby, yet He was so much more.

I hope this truth moves you to worship Christ who left the comfort of heaven to redeem us.



Humility Test

I had to share this – the best piece of advice I’ve ever gleaned from my Twitter feed:

Would you like to test your humility?

Every time you’re tempted to say “I know” instead say “You’re right”.

I resonate with this so much. Powerful. Profound. Simple. True.

I’m going to try it.




Last night, I started our Christmas teaching series at Pit Stop (middle school youth group). During the lesson, we talked about some of the best and worst gifts we ever received. That’s a fun question to ask a group. We had some wild answers! Some of the worst gifts that were mentioned: coal (someone actually got a lump of coal!), a video game for a system they didn’t own, clothes that were obviously meant for someone else. We’ve all received a gift that didn’t quite work for us. There usually a need to do some exchanging after Christmas. The challenge I gave our middle schoolers, and I would extend to you as well, is to NOT be an exchanger this Christmas when it comes to what really matters. Don’t exchange the real meaning of Christmas for all the stuff that comes with the holiday. Don’t let the gifts, traditions, ect, crowd out Jesus. The shepherds remind us of the appropriate response to Jesus (Luke 2:15-20). They go to Him and praise God for Him!

Below is one of my favorite Christmas songs. I hope it helps you focus your heart and mind on Christ.




Leading up to Easter 2014 I presented ACC with the 5X5X5 challenge – to pray for 5 unsaved friends/family for 5 minutes per day for 5 weeks. Our specific prayer was that they would come to church on Easter morning and that they would cross the line of faith before the end of 2014.

Are you still praying for your 5?


Much like Easter, the Christmas season is a time when people who don’t typically attend church are much more open and receptive to attending church. Oftentimes all it takes is a personal invitation. I encourage you during this Advent season to invite someone you love and care about to come to church. God could well use your simple invitation to make an eternal difference.


Let’s be praying. Let’s be inviting. Let’s see what happens!