Archives For February 2012

groundSWELL Coming Tomorrow

Mike —  February 29, 2012 — Leave a comment

I am really excited to take part in an online conference of a different stripe tomorrow! I love hearing from leading pastors, teachers, and thinkers at things like Catalyst and CIY Move. I love to sit at the feet of leaders and listen (or read) as they teach the art of serving people into places they never thought they’d make it, and sitting around with peers and kicking around ministry ideas. But tomorrow’s event won’t feature any seasoned “experts” or any of my peers from the youth ministry tribe. It’s being presented by a bunch of leaders from a church I’ve never visited, but one that I’m helping to shape. It’s right in line with what Imminent Crash is all about!


The presenters of groundSWELL are between the ages of 13 & 19. While I’d argue that many of them already ARE leading the church, I can’t wait to hear where God is leading these students to take His people over the next decades. I don’t like the phrase “church of tomorrow” because the next generation has the same inheritance that I do or any of the generations before me do when it comes to adoption into God’s family – but it’s awesome to see students taking the responsibility (to make disciples) that comes with that inheritance seriously and share with the rest of us what God’s doing in them.

It’s awesome to see the church recognizing God’s work in young lives on this scale. Sign up today, and check out groundSWELL tomorrow.

groundSWELL

Mike —  February 29, 2012 — Leave a comment

I am really excited to take part in an online conference of a different stripe tomorrow! I love hearing from leading pastors, teachers, and thinkers at things like Catalyst and CIY Move. I love to sit at the feet of leaders and listen (or read) as they teach the art of serving people into places they never thought they’d make it, and sitting around with peers and kicking around ministry ideas. But tomorrow’s event won’t feature any seasoned “experts” or any of my peers from the youth ministry tribe. It’s being presented by a bunch of leaders from a church I’ve never visited, but one that I’m helping to shape. It’s right in line with what Imminent Crash is all about!

The presenters of groundSWELL are between the ages of 13 & 19. While I’d argue that many of them already ARE leading the church, I can’t wait to hear where God is leading these students to take His people over the next decades. I don’t like the phrase “church of tomorrow” because the next generation has the same inheritance that I do or any of the generations before me do when it comes to adoption into God’s family – but it’s awesome to see students taking the responsibility (to make disciples) that comes with that inheritance seriously and share with the rest of us what God’s doing in them.

It’s awesome to see the church recognizing God’s work in young lives on this scale. Sign up today, and check out groundSWELL tomorrow.

Looking for a Mission? Pick One.

Mike —  February 28, 2012 — Leave a comment

I recently returned from a board meeting of 3:18 Ministries in nice & warm Globe, AZ. 3:18 is a ministry to the Apache people of the San Carlos Reservation, showing the love of Jesus in a place where it’s all too rare. While I missed interacting with a couple members who couldn’t make it to the meeting, I really enjoyed the time with the rest of us, not to mention the escape from the gray NE winter to a couple days of green (which was a little surprising for me – I forgot that color existed) and AZ sun. More than that, it was great to spend a couple days dreaming and discussing and clarifying what God is doing through 3:18. The hope and vision in the lives of 3:18’s board are contagious! I have little claim to earn membership in such an awesome group of kingdom servants, but I’m humbled and thankful to get to spend some time and effort and prayer with them. Through God’s power working on the reservation, parents are learning how to lead and love their children, families are gaining more suitable housing, and children who think they’re not wanted are learning how precious they really are to their Maker. God’s love is being made known in the actions of His people and even bigger developments are on the horizon for 3:18. I can’t wait to see where God takes us all!

The trip got me thinking again about this post I’d started several months ago about some missions that matter to me and my family. We give to these ministries, in terms of finances, time, prayer, and effort. We see God at work in these ministries and want to be able to help in any way we can. Maybe you can help, too. In addition to 3:18, would you be praying for these Kingdom efforts? Take some time to look into what they do and see if God has some role for you to play in their work.

Sparrow’s Nest – A few years ago, our small group piled into Forest (as we dubbed our green church van) and drove to the West Coast for Catalyst. (It’s interesting to me that after all the miles I’ve driven those vans, it took a small group of adults to give one a name!) We were joined by my friend, Tory (of the previously mentioned 3:18), and a friend of one of our group’s couples, Carissa. While our initial contact was tainted by the lingering effects of the “Mile High Tamale” incident, it was a joy to meet Carissa and see how she’s responding to a dream planted in her by God. That dream has become The Sparrow’s Nest in St. Charles, MO. The mission of The Sparrow’s Nest is “to provide Christ centered shelter and to educate homeless, pregnant, and parenting young women.” They want to empower young mothers to make positive life decisions for themselves and their babies. It’s been amazing to see God work as Carissa has pulled together a team to build this much needed ‘nest’ in the St. Louis area. Visit their site to check out their story – maybe you’ll find a place in it, too.

Nebraska Christian College – Getting married right after high school was a no brainer for LuAnn and I. We were going off to college hundreds of miles from anyone we’d ever known and there was tremendous encouragement in doing that together. From July of 1994, when we landed at the empty campus (the only ones I remember being around were two other couples a few years ahead of us, and Humphrey, who couldn’t go home for the summer because home was Malawi and he needed to work to pay for the next semester) until May of 1998, when I graduated and a well placed dart landed in Loveland, CO – NCC was our first home. Some of our deepest relationships were forged there and some of our most formative growth was instigated there. We’ve supported NCC ever since as the college continues to train servant leaders who know Christ and are making Him known. Though the place where all that college magic happened for us has been left behind for another location, the college continues to be an exciting part of what God is doing and we continue to be excited by just what He is doing through NCC.

Compassion – Very early in our marriage, we wanted to establish that our lives, our jobs, & our income would never just be about us. Whatever God brought our way, we wanted to be willing to use it for His glory and someone else’s benefit. Compassion was one of our first outlets for doing exactly that. Through Compassion’s child sponsorship program we’ve been able to help kids in a couple Latin American countries, Haiti, and Kenya with names like Pilar, Imacuelease, & Wairegi find hope in the name of Jesus.  I’ve also enjoyed getting our youth ministry students involved with Compassion, raising money for hunger and AIDS relief, or pulling a few friends together to sponsor a child of their own. We once had a talent show to raise money for mosquito nets, where our duct-tape-wearing friend Theresa joined a couple sisters and friends for a hilarious Burger King skit – before she traded the paper crown in for one with more diamonds at the Miss America pageant of 2011. Compassion is changing the story for thousands of kids living in poverty throughout the world. They have a special day of emphasis coming up called Compassion Sunday in April – check it out and find out how you and your church can rewrite some stories, too.

Youth Ministry – This may go without saying, but youth ministry is incredibly important to me and my family. After 4 years of college and 12 years of being a youth pastor, I still love seeing students living life as disciples and learning to be the church God is calling them to be. I still love it when they start to understand how deeply Jesus loves them and to allow Him to shape their lives. I hope I will never join the masses in losing that enthusiasm for teens. I hope you’ll join me in praying for the teens in and around your own life. They need you to care enough to invest your life in them. Get to know them and find out how you can reach into their lives. Do the work of a missionary, reaching across generations to understand and to build bridges. You probably won’t see huge dividends immediately, but do it anyway – bring God’s Kingdom to their tribe.

There are many other ministries that we care about and continue to pray for. I think of Marilyn and Connie and their family in South Africa (long time family friends back to my grandpa’s generation), and Hudson (a former student) and his family preparing to reach into places to which most of us are too afraid or ill-prepared to reach. I think of other former students who are carrying Christ with them in youth ministries and IT departments and construction sites and nuclear plants, as well as friends and family planting churches in exotic places like New Zealand and North Dakota as well as Wyoming and South Dakota. There are many others being the church in big cities and small towns closer to home. I think of Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, where some of our WestWay family go a couple times each year to offer hope. When I stop to think about it, I’m humbled to be a part of such a diverse fellowship of people who’ve taken up Christ’s mission to reconcile, to seek what has been lost and restore people to the relationship with God that we are created for.
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What are some of the ministries in which you and your family are involved? How do you help them? What’s God up to there?

Starting a blog is simple. Choosing a template isn’t so bad. Publishing actual posts or articles on your blog is as easy as sending e-mail. These days it may seem like everyone’s blogging, and many blog readers are in fact blog authors, as well. But maintaining a blog is about as simple as herding dust bunnies in a blizzard. Keeping fresh content pouring through your keyboard can be time consuming and difficult to do well. Motivation wanes.

What’s your motivation?

One of the most de-motivating aspects of blogging is this nagging feeling that no one’s reading what’s written. You’ve collected your thoughts, hunted down a nice image that enhances the message, set it all out using the most vibrant colors of language you know (which are always grammatically palatable, of course!), and finally published the post for all the world to see.

 Only… the world doesn’t seem to be noticing. So, you dangle a few hooks in front of all your twitter followers and slam all your facebook friends with invitations to come check out the best thing you’ve ever written. But at the end of the day, your analytics tells you the only ones checking in are your mom, some spam-bot in Pennsylvania, and someone at an IP address that’s registered to the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Incarceration!

No shares. No comments. No chatter or buzz. You know this stuff could be as viral as a cold – but no one’s catching it in the first place to get the sneezing started! Since my first post in April of 2005, I’ve published just over 700 posts on my blog (not a blog on fire, but consistent). While I read some blogs that are getting tens of thousands of visits every day, my highest pageview count for any one month was a little over 3,000. I’m guessing your blog’s not setting many traffic records either. So, why bother?

Why keep dripping content into a digital sea that seems designed to dissipate? Why continue to whisper into a wind that strangles my voice into the unheard whimper of yet another digital tumbleweed? Maybe you’ve wrestled with similar questions. Maybe you’ve felt so drowned out for so long, you’ve simply stepped away from your blog, leaving a grave marker where a spring of life once promised to bubble up… Why bother, right? Here’s why:

1. You have a message. Blogging can help you craft that message. If you can focus your posts on the core idea that initially inspired you to start blogging, every post can be a tool to sharpen the message you’ve been given to share. The more focused your message becomes, the greater its potential to work its way into the fabric of someone’s life and really make a difference – not just online, but in the real world.

2. Someone is reading. Don’t underestimate the deep impact your words may have, even if your audience never grows very wide. For every Michael Hyatt or John Saddington reaching into hundreds of thousands of lives with every word written, there are truckloads of Michael Andrews touching a handful. You don’t need to write for thousands in order to impact lives with your blog. You do need to keep writing. Because someone is reading.

3. You never know. Maybe that next post is the one that will break the dam, enabling your gift to spill over into rivers you’d never even imagined. What if you never publish it?

What motivates you to keep blogging?

Dismissing Lent?

Mike —  February 22, 2012 — 2 Comments

I don’t really have time for this today, but I’m jumping in anyway. Growing up as part of a non-observing tradition, I hear a lot of misunderstanding and arrogantly false piety during certain times of the year that seems to be based on what we don’t do. Like now. It seems that some of us think that somehow “we” are in some type of higher standing with God because we don’t observe certain “man-made rituals” that other faith communities do practice. Like slapping the “man made” label on something automatically allows us to throw it away as insignificant. You won’t see any ashes on “our” heads today – unless it was chimney cleaning day. I’m fine with that, but it really shouldn’t be a source of pride.

Others in my tribe will hardly remember that today is Ash Wednesday until a classmate or co-worker walks into the room with the tell tale smudge. We’ll barely take note of the day that marks the beginning of Lent in preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. We celebrate being able to live in the truth of his resurrection all the time, so we don’t pay a lot of attention to most ‘church calendar’ type of observances. I’m ok with that, too – but again, I wonder, why would someone look down their nose at another who does find meaning in the ritual?

Could it be, that maybe we’re missing something?

Could it be, that maybe… just maybe, there is more to Lent than the caricature that we so easily lampoon and dismiss? More than giving up chocolate or Facebook or some other triviality for a few weeks? Could it maybe be about something more than fish on Fridays?

I think so.

While I think it’s Biblically true that there is no spiritual obligation for a person to observe Ash Wednesday, or Lent, or any other similar event, there surely can be spiritual benefit from doing so. The Ash smudge is certainly not a stamp on anyone’s passport to heaven, but it can definitely be more than an inconvenient mark of ritual. I hear friends degrade others’ actions as simply going through the motions, but do we even know what it is of which we’re being so dismissive? Do we ever take the time to find out what’s at the heart of all of this?

Unfortunately, we often don’t. Which is sad, because at the heart of Ash Wednesday is repentance and at the heart of Lent is sacrifice. These are more than religious sounding words to kick around when we want to sound spiritual. They are critical cogs in the workings of discipleship, just as celebrating new life and victory over death are. It’s strange though… we don’t seem to have this same arrogance toward our brothers when we’re showing up for church on Christmas and Easter (two man made holidays that extol those more palatable virtues).

If you’re a Christian who’s observing Ash Wednesday today, examine your heart and observe with the intent to be restored. May your contrition be so evident and real that those who would dismiss your actions as cartoonish and irrelevant would be put ashamed and reminded of the grace we share. May your repentance lead you deeper into the heart of God than you’ve ever been.

If you’re a disciple who’s always ignored Lent & Ash Wednesday, take a second look. Sure, some who observe these days do so only out of some sense of ritual or obligation, but does that mean they have no value at all? We sure don’t make that argument when it comes to baptism or communion. Like the Grinch at Christmas, notice that there’s a whole lot more than what you may have thought. Ask our Creator to lay bare the inner chambers of your heart and see if there’s something there from which you need to repent. May He draw us nearer, as well.
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A little more reading if you’d like to dig a little deeper:
Why Practicing Lent IS Crazy from Relevant Magazine
Some Thoughts For Ash Wednesday from Fuller Youth Institute

Since it’s Valentines Day and everything, I thought we’d hit the subject of dating a little bit. I always liked the concept of the show 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter. If you don’t remember it, read the title of the show again; it’s pretty self-explanatory. I especially liked these rules from the show:
– You make her cry, I make you cry. 
– Safe sex is a myth. Anything you try will be hazardous to your health. I promise.
– If you pull into my driveway and honk, you better be dropping off a package because you’re definitely not picking anything up.
– If your pants are so baggy you can’t keep them up, I’ll help you out – with my staple gun.

As the father of two girls,  I’ll be developing my own set of rules, so I asked Emily to help me out with a post and write out some rules of her own. Since she’s only 12, we haven’t had a lot of dating discussions – it’s a pretty short conversation at this point that is basically summed up by “Not yet.” I didn’t give her a lot of prompting for her list, but she’s got a pretty good start: (I’ll put her answers in italics, then add a few bonus rules of my own!)

Dad’s prompt: A boy wants to date you. What are your rules for him? (Before the first date – and during any date.)

Emily’s Rules: Before the first date-
– he has to be a christian
– he has to be nice to me
– he can’t try to make me jealous
– he has to be someone I like
– he can’t have a girlfriend when he asks me out
– he can’t be a “bad boy”

During any date-
– he can’t burp
– he has to be nice to me
– follow all rules from “Before the first date”


First, I just have to say I’m pretty proud of my daughter. I love that she’s already expecting a guy to love Jesus and she’s not interested in putting up with the immature crap that some guys pull to manipulate girls. She’s demanding loyalty already and expects a guy to not be full of himself. She’s setting the bar pretty high, and I have a feeling that whatever guy finally wins her heart will have had to earn it.

Just to thin the field a little further, I’ve kicked around a few possibilities of my own:
  – If your GPA can be counted on less than 3 fingers, go do your homework first and try again after the next grade check.
  – If your parents gave you a car for your 16th birthday that’s nicer than what I have, you’re already suspect. If you’ve already wrecked it being stupid and they replaced it with another, I might let you go for a walk together.
  – If you can’t say the word marriage without breaking out into hives, get some ointment, figure out what you’re going to do with your life, then ask again.
  – If your mom has to drive you on your date, I’ll probably laugh a little, but you can take my daughter out.
  – If you’re rude to your mom, learn some respect for the woman who brought you into this world, then we’ll talk.
  – If you’re rude to my daughter’s mother… just run, boy, run – I won’t be able to hold her back for long!

Obviously, since Emily’s 12, some of these rules will only be phased in over the next several years. And just so no grandma’s are harmed during the reading of this post – this is all still very hypothetical. There’s no point dating until you can get married and there’s no possibility of that for at least another year and a half!

Imminent Crash

admin —  February 14, 2012 — 1 Comment

I’ve had a little bit of a fascination with rhinos ever since I heard what a group of them are called. No flocks or schools for these big boys – they’re a crash. Rhinos can’t see very far ahead, but that doesn’t seem to slow them down much. Neither does just about any other obstacle you could put in front of them. Imagine something standing in the way of 4 or 5 rhinos charging ahead… you get the picture. It doesn’t much matter what it is, it’s about to be crashed.

Image courtesy of thadz at sxc.hu

While I don’t advocate a fear charged romp through life, I do think that a crash of rhinos is a great picture for the church. As we follow Jesus, we may not always be able to see very far ahead. But we follow anyway. Obstacles will arise, but as we follow together, God is establishing a Kingdom that the gates of Hell can’t even stop. Unfortunately, many churches today don’t seem very unstoppable. If you could gauge their forward progress, it may seem that often, they’ve already been stopped. Cliches like stuck in a rut, spinning their wheels, & banging their heads against a wall may seem to fit. But they don’t fit the church as Jesus intended it to be. The gates of Hell seem to be standing pretty strong in many of our communities – gates that keep people separated from God.

As a youth pastor, I have had a view of a tremendous conduit of an energy that many churches need to maximize: their kids! Instead of putting our kids on the playground to run off their excess energy or behind a desk to learn something they’ll be able to use “when they’re older”, what if we realized Jesus’ command (it really wasn’t a suggestion) to “let the children come to me”? What if we learned to allow Him to shape His kids and unleash all that potential into a kinetic band of Kingdom workers? Instead of watching them trickle away from churches where they never really connected, would we be able to launch them into the Kingdom lives Jesus has always dreamed for them?

Imminent Crash is all about doing just that.

I want to help you and your churches learn to connect experience with energy, to turn potential into action, to equip the unstoppable church that we can be when generations are drawn together on the mission of Jesus. I don’t have all the answers, but I’d love to share with you what I’ve learned about helping students understand what it means to be the church ~ and helping the church understand how to raise up these young disciples. Whether you’re a parent or a student, a pastor or a youth leader or a teacher… I hope Imminent Crash will spur you on to investing yourself in the next generation and helping them launch into lives of discipleship. Use the subscription button & like the facebook page in the sidebar, or just check back often to follow along. Be sure to join the conversation through the comments sections on each post, and use the sharing buttons as frequently as you like to let all your friends and followers know what you’ve found here.

Join the Crash!

Passionately Procrastinating

Mike —  February 10, 2012 — Leave a comment

I always tell my wife that I’m very helpful, just in the least helpful way possible. I usually say that when I’m getting the look that tells me I didn’t get done what was supposed to be done. I usually only imagine that I’m getting that look due to my deep seated (or is it seeded?) insecurities, but my imagination is quite compelling, so I usually feel guilty about whatever it is I haven’t done – while simultaneously exulting in some other triumph.

For example, maybe, I mean just hypothetically speaking for moment… Maybe the grass needed mowed, the flower box removed, and the old dryer taken to the dump. But instead of tackling any of those half hour jobs, I decide (again, this is hypothetical) to remove all the crushed rock from a 60′ x 3′ section of our front yard, so that we can plant a couple bushes, put down some weed block, and replace all the rock. Which I would hypothetically guess would take about 4 days, 2 shovels and a bucket, 7 blisters, and 4 grouchy and underpaid child laborers.

See – helpful.

Just not necessary. Not well-timed. Not integral to the continued smooth functioning of our household. But helpful.

So today, when I have several other things to do that suddenly became less than urgent, I decided to take it upon myself to build a website. I’ve messed around online enough to know how to manipulate a little bit of content on this free (and pre-designed) site, but I have zero experience actually starting from scratch. So naturally, instead of finishing a couple easy jobs that need done in my office, I registered a domain name, paid for a year of hosting, and set up cPanel access. Then I proceeded to install the self-hosted incarnation of WordPress (twice, since I didn’t quite get it right the first time) on my host’s server, purchase Standard theme (which I’m told will raise the speed of awesome on my site from 0 to 60 in the blink of a pixel) and… well, then I hit a road block.

See, in my imagination, there’s supposed to be this easy, ‘click here to download Standard theme’ button that you click after you pay for it, then another ‘install Standard theme’ button to finish the job. There were buttons to click alright, but somewhere in the process, what I needed to be one easily managed .zip file became a folder full of files that would’ve made Hulk smash tanks and unicorns and stuff. I ended up figuring out how to sort of ‘re-zip’ all those files into one, then how to upload that through the file manager on my cPanel, and finally how to then unzip that within the file manager on the host’s server. Not bad for a guy who didn’t even have a cPanel to open a couple days ago! (They’re nothing like the old 70’s panels that used to be in my basement, by the way.)

So, despite nearly forgetting to take my daughter to pre-school, then being a couple minutes late to pick her up, and not finishing a couple other projects that are about 27 hours from regaining urgent status… I am proud to say I’ve successfully set up the skeleton for what I hope will be a blog that makes a difference. (I’m not telling you where it is, yet – it’s still a little shy.) I’ll still use this space here to collect my thoughts about our journey through life to God (as I have for several years), but I wanted to start something more focused on one thing: unleashing potential in the young church.

I’m tired of seeing churches just get old and tired and wear themselves out running around the same old circles. There’s a better way… I’m about to launch into a long, impassioned diatribe, here, so I’ll stop – that’s what my new digs are for. I hope to see you there soon (that is, once I reveal where ‘there’ is)…

Last night, I got to hang out with some of our students here who’ve started a ministry night they call TNT. It’s actually a mixture of a few of our WestWay kids and their friends from a few other churches and friends from no church at all. They get together every week and hang out for about a half hour, have some kind of devotional talk/thought, then break up into smaller groups to talk about issues with which they wrestle. As far as youth ministry goes, it’s not really anything too out of the ordinary… except one thing:

From the beginning, TNT has been planned, promoted, and directed by students. They’ve been going for about a year now, and last night was the very first night I’d even been in the building for their time together. (There is an adult or two who are here just in case they’re needed, but they were both tied up last night, so I got to be the substitute!)

Last night, after they hung out for a while, I have to admit that I was starting to wonder if they did anything else. I’m all for relationship building, but I was hoping to see them do something a little more meaningful with the relationships they were building. Just as I began to wonder if there was something else they needed to be doing to make the most of their time together, it was as if some silent signal went off. They put down the ping pong paddles and stepped away from the foos-ball table and everyone headed to the side room, where one of kids who’s spearheaded much of TNT prayed, read a chapter from Blue Like Jazz, and started a pretty good conversation.

A year ago, if I’d asked him to get a bunch of his friends together and read to them and lead a discussion about what it means to follow Jesus, he would have thought I was nuts. (I may be, just for the record.) But last night, he did exactly that – and it was his idea. He’s been reading and being impacted by what he’s reading, and wants to share it. He’s not the only one. These students are not afraid to step out and share how God is challenging them.

A lot of youth ministry is pouring yourself into young people and waiting. Rewards are delayed… gratification is anything but instant… It’s so good when you get to catch a glimpse of the maturity that God is bringing about. I’m glad I was able to make it last night… If you want to see maturity developing in your student ministry, here are a few things to keep in mind.

If you’re doing youth ministry…
Keep pouring. Keep chasing Jesus and allowing him to breathe His life into you, then keep sharing that life with your students.
Don’t expect instant results, but treasure those rare moments where you actually get to see the difference Jesus has made through your efforts.
Don’t do it all yourself. Let your students get out on that ledge where they can experience the joy of being a conduit of God’s grace to their peers. (And find other adult leaders who can help them navigate life, as well.)

If you’re not doing youth ministry…
Why not? You’ve got something to offer and the next generation desperately needs to connect with Christ in you. Chase Jesus and let him breathe His life into you, then find someone who needs you to share that life with them.
You probably don’t like me that much, and I’m not sure why you’re still reading my blog. But please come back often and keep reading – maybe you’ll catch the bug!
Help us. Too many youth leaders are carrying too much of the youth ministry load. We need your help. We may not always be very good at asking for it (I know I’m not), but we simply cannot be everything that all of our students need us to be. Please help us fill the gaps.

Potential, Locked Up

Mike —  February 2, 2012 — Leave a comment

I shouldn’t have been able to see him in the middle of the morning like that. He should have been in some class at one high school or another. But he wasn’t in class. Instead, as I was buzzed through a series of solid steel doors, he was finishing an English test for his GED courses. Courses he’s taking because kids in jail don’t go to regular school. But he wants to finish.

As we talked, he asked about a Psalm he’d been reading and what it all meant and I babbled on about Old Testament history and fitting things into the right place in that history to understand better, and how David, the guy that wrote the particular Psalm he was asking about, had messed up really bad, but still was dubbed “a man after God’s own heart”… And that was what he was looking for. He needed to know that there is grace enough that he could be forgiven.

I kept thinking about all the potential that is locked up in what we call a Juvenile Detention Center. What will become of these kids? Many of the kids I saw today will spend a lot of their lives in facilities like this. For some it already seems to be a pattern. As I was leaving, a boy who was probably about 13 or 14 seemed to be getting processed in. When I was 13, this would have been pretty traumatic for me – 4 or 5 corrections officers standing by, watching as the restraints were removed and pockets searched as I was ushered in to change into a prison uniform… I would have been wetting my pants! This kid, however young he was, already knew the routine. This was normal for him.

But back to the young man I’d met with… He wants a new normal. He doesn’t want this to be the pattern for his life. And he’s learning to lean on grace to make that possible. He’s hoping to enter a treatment facility soon. 3 weeks clean has been a good start, but he knows he’s only just starting a journey that won’t be easy. (Please be praying…) Grace can unlock his potential to live a better story.

Which makes me wonder…

What potential have I locked up within myself because I haven’t dared to let grace work there? What about you? What fear or bitterness or shame do we harbor, keeping us from becoming what God dreams we could be?