Beyond the Sheen

Yesterday, we went up to the monument for our staff meeting. No real agenda except a brief time out of the office for prayer. The plaque at the top of the monument always gets me thinking… a tribute to a man who died within reach of help, but didn’t make it – abandoned by his friends. I often wonder if that’s still happening today? People dying for eternity – abandoned by the church.

It’s not that we don’t care. I’m not so cynical as to think that most people in the church really don’t give a rip about their neighbors. We do. But I’m afraid we’ve forgotten just what is at stake.

A team from our church just returned from Haiti and they’re talking about how dark a place it is. The voodoo and witchcraft that are so visible there have made the evil palpable. This thought of blatant darkness has converged in my mind with some recent conversations and sermons having to do with the materialism so prevalent in our own Western culture. We have so much – and often what we have has blinded us to the spiritual reality that without Christ, we are dead.

As I looked out over the view of our community from the top of the Bluff, I noticed that there are a lot of white buldings in town. Coupled with the glitter of glass on the sunny day, Scottsbluff looked like a shiny, bright sparkle in the midst of the browning fields.

As these contrasting thoughts collided, Nehemiah came to mind, surveying the city of Jerusalem and finding the rumors of desolation and destruction to be true. When we survey our cities, do we look beyond the glitz to see the grime?

A beautiful darkness has crept upon us –
—-but darkness, nonetheless.
This beauty illumined is no beauty at all –
—-but greed, and pain, and death.
But who wants to expose the ugly?
“Paint the town white!”
—-“Cover it up with a little shine!”
So we whitewash our tombs,
—-extinguish our lights,
—-and go blind to what’s dying inside.

Challenging Video

Just came across this video montage of some of Mike Yaconelli’s speaking on Knotter’s blog. Good stuff…

Ministry via Master Chief???

I read this NY Times article the other day about youth ministries featuring Halo. Video games have been and will continue to be a sticky issue for a lot of people. Right now, as part of some revamping of our youth ministry, we’re talking about setting up a few video game systems and this is an issue we’re talking about. How do we decide which games are ok and which are not? I’ve gotta say that the arguments used by some of the people in this article to justify their practices sound pretty hollow to me.

I’ve played the Halo games with some of my kids. Had fun. Pretty sure I’m not emotionally scarred for life as a result. But if you ever hear me utter the words ‘Halo’ and ‘relevant ministry’ together, please come and pluck the XBox out of my eye so I can see better. The whole baiting the hook thing really makes me feel kinda queasy.

Are our youth ministries so devoid of meaningful substance that we can’t survive without the latest gimmick? Do we not have a passion for what students really need and the ability to transmit that message in ways that they’ll receive it? Or is this just the easy way out – trade kids a 20 minute spiel for a little game time?

Please don’t take this as one self-righteous youth worker looking down the barrel and taking pot shots at other youth workers and their methods. I’m wrestling with this issue myself in my own ministry. I like video games. I like playing video games with my kids. I will continue to play video games with my kids – including some games that some people don’t like. But to say about Halo that “It is crucial… to reach the elusive audience of boys and young men.” just takes it too far.

Dick Staub also had an article about this same issue on his blog today. Read the whole articles and see what you think, but the following couple quotes say a lot:

Marty O;Donnell, one of the creators of Halo and himself a Christian agrees– I too read the article in the New York Times today and was disappointed and shook my head. Once again (I believe) the modern evangelical church has misinterpreted Christ’s injunction to be “fishers of men”.

and the bottom line…

I think Youth pastors face a huge challenge–gamers play Halo because it offers sensatory excitement, a good versus evil storyline and a real sense of connection in community. If we love kids we will serve them in ways that address those needs more deeply than Halo can

Job Shadow

One of my students has to do a job shadowing project. Someone told him he should do one with me and his response was, “Mike works? I thought he just went to church and stuff…” So tomorrow, he’s spending the day with me at work.

Then today, I found this spoof video on Fess’s blog that some of the youth staff at Saddleback did. Maybe I’ll let him watch it for part of our ‘day’ tomorrow.

Well… back to work!

Praying for a Friend…

I cried for you today.
I saw them entice you and drag you away.
I wish you could see from here
The joy in your eyes – you replaced it with fear
and the pain they inflict
makes you sick to the heart.
I know you don’t know but you’re falling apart.
Wake up look around
He’ll be found nearby.
Lift your eyes to His gaze – stare into His grace.
He loves you.
He’s just dying for you to come home.
We love you.
We’re crying for you to come home.

Lifehouse “everything” skit