Filter Through Life

Taming the Tongue

When words are many, sin is not absent,
but he who holds his tongue is wise.  
Proverbs 10:19  


A fool shows his annoyance at once,
but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
 Proverbs 12:16  


A man of knowledge uses words with restraint,
and a man of understanding is even-tempered.

Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent,
and discerning if he holds his tongue. 
Proverbs 17:27-28  


I am convicted by these words today.  God has been dealing with me for the last several weeks about my mouth.  I boast too much.  I gripe too much.  I gossip too much.  I just flat out talk too much.  I have a hard time controlling my tongue and I want to change that starting today. 


I want to be a godly man, husband and leader in my community and church.  I have to start with the small things.  I must love God and my wife.  I have to be faithful with my prayer.  I have to read my bible.  I have to go to church and I have to tithe.  But that isn’t enough.  If I do all these things yet cannot control my tongue then I am not godly at all.  James asks us in James 3:12, “can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?”  Certainly not.  Neither can a man leave his tongue unbridled and expect to have influence. 


I know I can’t do it on my own; I’ve tried.  I am glad I don’t have to. 


      But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,

      for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 

                       2 Corinthians 12:9


Thank God for grace.


Parent’s Meeting
April 21, 2008, 10:25 am
Filed under: Leadership, Learning my trade, Ministry, Religion, Youth Ministry | Tags:

I conducted Filter’s first parent’s meeting yesterday after church.  I tried to keep it short and sweet because I know folks are ready to leave, get some food and they really don’t want to listen to be bump my gums for too long.  After all, I had given announcements earlier so they had already heard me talk once that day. 


I wanted the parents to have an idea of our mission/vision for the youth ministry.  I also wanted them to know a few of the things Cheri and I have planned for the ministry in the coming months.  I think the parents were at least content with what we shared with them and were encouraged that we aren’t just on autopilot.


It is almost as hard talking to parents as it is to teenagers.  Teenagers stare at you (if you are lucky) with blank, disinterested faces while parents stare at you with inquisitive and almost doubtful faces.  I may just be a bit paranoid; it was my first meeting with parents after all.  I was encouraged that none of the parents got after me though.  After enduring the first two years of my leadership part of me expected some backlash.  That was totally God’s grace that kept that from happening.


Over all the meeting went well.  At least it wasn’t the train wreck that I was expecting.  Next meeting is going to be that much better.

When Your Toungue Gets Ahead of Your Brain
April 14, 2008, 7:59 am
Filed under: Learning my trade, Ministry, Religion, Youth Ministry

Something my wife and I are learning as we grown in our roles as pastors is that sometimes less is more.  We both have a tendency to talk too much when we don’t know exactly how to explain something.  If you have ever worked with teenagers this will not be news to you; they look at you like you are stupid.  It’s either that or the look of “I don’t care”, “I want to sleep”, “I’m hungry”, “I’m bored” or all of the above.  One thing is nearly certain, you almost never get the look of “Oh, yes I get it!”


Case in point: we got a little hung up on a section of scripture, Proverbs 3: 5-6:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
       and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways acknowledge him,
       and he will make your paths straight.

Every kid in the class was looking at us like we had toes growing out of our foreheads.  We wanted the kids to get it so she kept explaining it in different ways.  Finally, after three attempts, Cheri gave the kids an analogy that they actually got.  It was so simple and yet it took nearly 5 minutes of us rambling to explain it. 

We talked about his phenomenon after church.  We both do it and we both do it often.  What do we need to do to stop?  Stop.  That’s it.  If we just take a few seconds to stop and think about what we want/need to say then what actually does come flying out of our pie holes might be something they can use.


We had our monthly staff meeting last night and it was pretty good.  I normally hate meetings and tend to drift off after a while (kind of like our leader…cough).  However, last night was a little different.  Tony talked about what we can look forward to in the coming months at Legacy, and it is pretty exciting and scary all at the same time.


The upcoming series is going to be about commitment; our commitment to the church, the churches commitment to the community, Tony’s commitment to us, etc.  He is fully committed to God’s purpose and his people and he is going to encourage us to be committed as well.  It is going to get really warm and uncomfortable in that building for some.  I love it.


Anne wrote earlier this week about church the church and the difference between making people feel welcome and making them feel comfortable.  We want to love people and we want them to know it.  Love isn’t always comfortable.  Jesus certainly didn’t always tell people what they wanted to hear but what they needed to hear.  That is our responsibility as well. 


Our pastors (and the rest of the body of Christ for that matter) can’t be afraid to call people to commit, even if it scares off a few people in the process.

Writing in Cement

I was reading last night for my Developing Pastor Skills class.  I have a little less that half of a book left and I will be able to write my paper and finish finally.  I would like to share a quote (well, paraphrase) from the book, “Biblical Counseling for Today” by Jeffrey Watson. 


In the particular section from which the quote comes, Mr. Watson is talking about counseling young people and just how important it really is.  He supports his opinion by referring to Matthew 19: 13-14:

Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and    pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

He followed this by saying, “Elders have the unique opportunity to write on the foundations of a young people’s lives while the cement is still wet.”


What a fantastic illustration!  Writing in cement is so much easy when it is wet and the marks you leave are permanent.  The markings may get covered with dirt and grime from the world but they are much more easily revealed again if they are already there.  Trying to influence an older person is like writing in dry cement; it can be done but it’s going to take a lot more time, tools and pain to do it.  That’s what I took from it anyway.

Pimply-Faced Freshman
March 10, 2008, 2:58 pm
Filed under: Faith, God, Leadership, Learning my trade, Ministry, Religion, Youth Ministry

The longer I am in ministry the more I feel I am an immature pastor (and Christian for that matter).  The more I learn from being a part of God’s ministry the more I realize I don’t know.  These are strange conundrums that I cannot fully explain. 

When I played baseball I got better and more mature as I got older.  I became the seasoned veteran catcher by the time I was a senior in high school.  I was the guy that the freshmen and sophomores came to for help.  I had taken my lumps and had grown into a half-decent catcher with a good head on his shoulders.  I had experience. 

Now that I am in ministry, the longer I stay in it the more I realize how completely helpless and hopeless I am.  I have been doing this for nearly five years now and I feel as if I know nothing.  I am that pimply-faced freshman constantly pestering the gruff senior catcher for advice.  I have taken my lumps and they have healed.  I have taken more lumps and they are healing still.   

The lumps have taught me valuable lessons.  The most important lesson I have learned is that I will never “get there” and I pray I never think so.  I pray I never get too big for my britches.  I don’t every want to think I don’t need to seek God about things.  I pray I never think I am the authority on anything.  I pray I will always have someone in my life from whom I can glean.   

It is safe to say that for the first time in my life I really hope I stay a pimply-faced freshman. 

[Figuratively speaking of course.  I like my skin just the way it is.]

I have a plan

Lately things have been just a little bit off for me.  I am not pulling my hair out yet and I can still function like a normal person (for the most part) but I can tell I am off.  I am a little moody lately.  I am not as energetic as I normally am, which for me means I am completely lethargic because I am not super energetic as it is.  I am unmotivated.  I am moody.  Did I say that already?   

 I was telling my wife this yesterday and in her infinite wisdom she told me what was wrong.  I am not spending enough time with Jesus.  I am trying to do everything on my own and I am just not strong enough to do it all.  Between work, ministry, the crap with my dog and keeping a marriage going I just don’t have the strength and coordination to hold it all in the air and keep it balanced.  One or more of the things I am juggling is bound to come crashing down, especially if I do. 

I can’t remember the last time I sat down and really talked with Him.  I have been reading like mad lately.  I have been getting into the word and trying to better myself that way.  All that is great but if I supplement that with only a few minutes of prayer a day then I am not getting all that I need.  I will then begin doing everything on my own power and for my own reasons. 

 Psalm 62: 5-6 says:

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
       my hope comes from him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation;
       he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

I will find rest in Him if I only seek Him.  The more I seek Him, the more I will find Him.  The more I find Him, the more I will love Him.  When that happens I will find perfect peace and rest in Him. So here is my plan: I am going to take a day or seven here in the very near future to just get away.  I am going to recharge my batteries.  But before that happens I am going to set aside time in my day for being with Him, my first love.  I miss Him.