Archive for August, 2007

U2

Music is and will always be a part of my life. U2 has been the one rock band that I’ve enjoyed from my teen years to current. This music video, I found on youtube is one of my favorite U2 song and one of the best music videos I’ve ever seen on MTV… when MTV played music videos. It was 1987… I was 17… I can’t believe it’s been 20 years.

Ah! The Memories.

peace.
Johno~

Share

Catching up with the Thomas kids

I’m not sure about the rest of the world, but… This summer has flown by. Most of the summers past I’ve been able to spend some time taking the kids to the park, swimming in the back or just chasing them around taking their pictures. It’s August and it’s cold. Today might break 90… the day we schedule dentist appointment at 3 PM for all the kiddos. Bummer.

Anyhow, I pulled out my camera and chased them all down. CLICK-A-TY, CLICK, CLICK.


Adam before his haircut


and after his haircut


Caleb was the hardest to pin down… can you tell?


Miriam always loves to pose for me… my little model.


Hannah… well, she’s twelve and just thinks I’m a nut. Funny, she’s just like me in so many ways. Look out world.

I love being a Papa. These are my gems. They are my life. I love each of them very much.

peace.
johno~

Share

9 years today.

I realized after my last post, that today is August 15. This is my ninth year full-time ministry. I only promised five years and somehow, here I still remain.

I remember jumping on board to being the best youth minister I could be… As a teen, I wanted to be better that… Jeff Walling. I read all the books, ordered all the best curriculum from Willow Creek and other mega church groups. I remember my first Bible study with a family who after hearing all the “right” answers, said, “thanks for sharing… we’ll think about it.” WHA?

I remember the group of teens I “adopted.” Teens anchored to church via activities and bribes. It was both fun and difficult. I entered this work in August with a remaining budget of $16 dollars and some change.

In the beginning teens didn’t like to sing. One student told me we sing to much and it would be nice if we could play more games. I remember Sunday morning Bible classes. Key word would be “BIBLE” and most of the teens not showing up with BIbles. I started giving away Bibles the church owned. Better in a kids hands than on a shelf six days a week. I thought it was important to bring Bibles to Bible study class. After visiting with one of my mentors, Big Don Williams, I had an idea… It was gentler than his. It was called the “Bible Policy” by many. I just thought is was something to get active Christian students to bring a Bible to Bible class.

Needless to say… Some left because of this idea of “forcing children to bring “Bibles to Bible class” and sending them to class with their parents if they didn’t. I have a 4 inch sealed envelope which contains many letters for and against my idea, including my response to the church leaders and families.

Dirt flew and all I could do was stand. I ask God why he made me come here? WHAT HAVE I DONE? I’LL NEVER LAST.

When the dirt settled I looked around and my enemy was gone. New families stepped up for the first time. From the ashes new birth began. The teens were no longer in charge.

I spent my time focusing on a mission statement, (which I cannot remember… I have had several over the years. However I think I will stick with the current mission statement… LOVE GOD, LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR) deciding what and where I would be going.

I continued to meet with the family I had first met with and a few short weeks later they gave their lives to Christ. Darren Coy is one of my closet friends today. I’ve never known a servant like Darren. He has so much to give and he gives more.

I also met a man named Steve Novak. He was a new Christian and not to involved… It was suggested to me I try to hook up with him and play golf. Golf? Could golf be a ministry? YES IT CAN. (although I suck at playing the game) Steve Novak and I would share a great journey. I will say that next to the “Bible Policy” thing, my journey with Steve has been a difficult journey.

I love Steve and I am so proud of him. It was hell to go through his divorce with him. I know most will still say, “it’s not your fault” and “you don’t really understand.” I don’t think anyone will understand the difficult time I went though watching my friend hurt like that. I am so glad to have watched him grow from that horrible battle and become stronger for the Lord.

After Steve’s drama, I thought I might not make it though the year. This wasn’t how ministry was suppose to go. I was hurt, I felt alone, I felt that I had failed.

It’s funny the lies youth ministers believe. 1) Numbers count… the bigger the group, the better the ministry. (or the youth minister) 2) I’m strong, I teach Bible class, I know this stuff, I don’t need to read the Bible for me… the Bible is me. 3) My relationship is great with my wife… I don’t need to be accountable… it will never happen to me. (in 9 years, nine youth ministers have broken their vow and have been unfaithful to their spouse. Several more have abandoned their ministry jobs for a way of life that run contrary to even a worldly moral belief… let alone a Christ follower) 4) I give so much time to the church, I’m tired, they ask so much of me and I can’t do everything. (Truth, many mismanage time, waiting until the last minute, bringing added stress and failure) I dare continue to write these lies. I only write what I know.

But the years move on and I met Dan. This may or may not be right, however… I have always called myself a “Jew”. I am not a cultural Jew but a religious Jew, in the sense that I grew up knowing God. I was chosen. I grew up with the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I knew all the rules/law, the 10 commandments. I knew what was expected. I knew who was chosen and who was not. I was religious since diapers and I knew Jesus. (in reality, Jesus’ rules are way harder to follow… it’s because they are not rules but a Way of life)

Dan was and is great for me. It’s because he is a gentile. (I dare write nice things about Dan because I know he reads this blog) When I was first told about Dan, he was described as “bizzaro johno” like bizzaro superman, everything that superman was, bizzaro superman was not. Everything Johno was”bizzaro johno, Dan” was not. We were the same but opposite.

Dan and I have many great conversation. Over 9 years of ministry, his baptism is still at the top of my most beautiful moments. Since that time, Dan has offered conversation that took me out of my “religious shell” and showed me God to the gentile. He has a wonderful spirit which is the Lord in him and he allows that to be used. I have so many great thoughts about Dan, I wish I could share them all in detail. (I might include them in my book)

It’s funny that my greatest relationships have not been with teens, but the fathers of teens, like Don Wheeler.

Don grew up like me. Religious. He and I meet for coffee each Wednesday morning at 5:30 AM to share, listen and pray. I love his desire to explore God anew. I think Don is the one who can best relate to me and my background. We both find ourselves saying, “AH HA!” and things like, “you know, it really doesn’t say that in the Bible.” and “I’ve never looked at it that way before.” Our journey is not over yet, I believe it’s just getting started.

It’s funny to think back when all I really wanted to do was make “SPIRITUAL GIANTS” out of the teens. I really don’t know what that means today. What I desire and have experienced with these teens and these fathers is honesty.

Since I’ve been here there is another father I’ve come to know. He is at the top of close friends. He may not know how much he has caused me to search the scripture, pray and listen but my friend Nir, who lives in Jerusalem, has given me so much. An entire friendship via the internet. I would have never thought. (Nir, the stories you have shared with me about your son and daughters, you wife. You have given me an important image of the word father. You may not like it and we might not always agree, yet in all of this the Lord has worked through you to minister to me… and that’s ok with me)

Though these men, God has worked. They each have challenged me in ways that have allowed me to see ministry differently.

To be honest, I really don’t think I am very good at youth ministry. Actually, I surprised it’s still a title on my business card. (I make my own business cards, so i guess it’s my fault) As I get older I have a hard time keeping up with all the new music, movies, what’s in and what’s out. Clothes in fashion and those out. The latest lingo I’m afraid to use because I’m still not sure if “fo Shizzle” is a cuss word.

I do love teens, I can’t see myself doing anything else. (although the opportunities always show their faces) I want to die working with teens… which could be sooner that later it I attempt anymore world record slip-n-slides or champion dodge ball tournaments.

I love students who are
radical, irresistible and revolutionary. God started youth ministry in Numbers chapter 14.

26 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 27 “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. 28 So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the LORD, I will do to you the very things I heard you say: 29 In this desert your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. 30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected.

Nineteen and younger. God became a youth minister.

I’ve not made it to the end so the verdict is still out… However, it’s been a God thing for nine years. Even in my rebellion against the things of God he placed certain men around me and the people who I came to serve, they served me. Never before had I thought of youth ministry being a father thing… (I had never had a biological father around) I’m thankful for the father ministry I’ve been a part of.

Luke 1 quotes Malachi:

16Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

To make ready a people prepared for the Lord… It helps when the hearts of the father turn to their children.

Deuteronomy 6

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

I’m not sure where the Lord will lead me beyond this point. I hope I am obedient to listen. (I’m very selfish and stubborn. Jonah 1:15)

I suppose this is what happens when you yield to post for two months. Call this post my “Peter Jackson” post… EPIC (Jas, you are not void in this story… your dirty paw prints are in every paragraph)

peace.
johno~

Share

Trying to figure this out and live it

8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.

9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the LORD ?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.

~Proverbs 30:8-9

peace.
johno~

Share