Jalapeños & Jesus

My son, Will, and I had just finished playing baseball this last weekend and did a quick stop at the store to get a few items for our homemade pizza night.

“Hey bud, what do you want on our pizza tonight?” I asked.

“Pepperoni and a lot of Jalapeños” he announced.

pizza-macro-shot-1312231After a minute or two of silent thought, he explained. “Dad, I used to like spicy stuff because of how much I love you… I really wanted to be like you. Now I love spicy stuff just because I love spicy stuff! I mean, I still love you, but I love spicy stuff on my own now too!”

I loved this; it was encouraging and convicting at the same time.

You see, though it wasn’t my goal to get Will to love Jalapeños (or other spicy stuff), it happened because he was willing to try the stuff that his Daddy likes. In the last couple years, Will has gone from a few drops of Tapatio on his burrito, to pepperoni pizza covered in Hot-Wing sauce and Jalapeños. He can’t get enough spice!

My quick-jaunt home from the grocery store that evening had my mind spinning. My prayer is that Will (along with my daughters, my 8th grade guys and other people I get to “do life” with) will emulate me in a way much greater than taste-bud satisfaction. My hope is that he will see the way that I prioritize my love for God, His Word and His people and begin to try that as well.

I long for a similar spiritually spiced-up conversation:

“Hey bud, what do you want do tonight?” I will ask.

“Let’s talk Scripture, let’s share Jesus with those who don’t know Him yet and let’s serve the community” he will announce.

1415262_bibleAfter a minute or two of silent thought, I imagine him saying, “Dad, I used to like Jesus and His stuff because of how much I love you… I really wanted to be like you. Now I love God, His Word and people just because I love Jesus! I mean, I still love you Dad, but I love Jesus and people on my own now too!”

Finally, on Sunday, at Subway, Will went through the line and confidently proclaimed his veggie choices, “I’d like both banana-peppers and Jalapeños”

May his love (and our love) for Jesus be proclaimed just as confidently!

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What The 12th Man Taught Me About The Church

A football team has bonded an entire region in a way that I wish the church would unite under the name of Jesus.

960x595After the Seahawks victory over the Niners, I saw from a friend on Facebook “I have hugged more than 20 strangers since the game ended!” A tweet I read said, “Never felt so close to so many people I have never met.” 

This city is crazy-united in the name of the Seahawks.

How I wish the church, I’ll make it even more personal, oh, how I wish my church would be even more united in the name of Jesus.

  • I took my family to Disneyland in October and while waiting to ride Pirates I saw a Seahawks fan (wearing a Seattle shirt) “Go Hawks” I said, quickly to get nod and a “Go Hawks” in return! We were united in Hawkdom.
  • While in Phoenix during the Seahawks bye week, I entered a Starbucks wearing my Seahawks Blue- “Hey, I’m from Seattle,” shouted the Barista, continuing, “your coffee’s on me!” 12th Man unite!
  • The shirt I wore in DIA

    The shirt I wore in DIA

    Last week I had the privilege of speaking at a camp in Colorado (yes, I survived), I chose to proudly wear a Seahawks shirt through the airport, “you’re bold!” “Go Hawks!” “Love your shirt, go Seattle” and “12th Man!” were some of the comments I received in the hostile hallways of DIA. But there was great encouragement knowing I had some friends… I was not alone! United in our Hawks-Love!

With Hawks fans it doesn’t matter if Russell or Marshawn is your favorite player- why be divided over personal preference? We understand it is the team that wins (and all the team members are needed). As part of the 12th man, we understand Sherman’s adrenaline-driven antics and we are quick to forgive knowing that his life is not defined by the one triumph or one mistake.

  • At the Seahawks game that my wife and I were fortunate enough to go to this year, we fist-bumped strangers without asking them if they were bigger fans of the offense or the defense. We exchanged low and high fives with our neighbors before we knew that some of them may actually be upset with some of Coach Pete’s decisions. These small things didn’t matter, we were united in the 12!

I have a lot to learn from the unity of the 12th man. I want to go to church and experience an even greater unity in the name of Jesus. The guy in the row in front of me may wish for louder music, but that shouldn’t change anything about how I interact with him. The family down the aisle may believe differently about the signed gifts, but I can still encourage them in Christ no matter their view. The gal who sits alone and never makes eye-contact, can still be asked if she’d like a cup of coffee. The people in the front row who quietly sigh when they see that it is me getting up to preach are still my potential new best friends, because in Christ, we are united.

Unfortunately saints still sin, and we too often let that define EVERYTHING.

Preferences and methodologies have sometimes become our hill to die on instead of letting the theology of the one who died on a hill become our EVERYTHING!

I am a proud Seahawks fan. But I have friends who are proud Broncos (congrats Denver, for making it to the Super Bowl). Even something that has united Seattle so strongly will not stand in the way of the larger bond I have with my brothers and sisters cheering for another NFL team. Because ultimately, we’re united in the Kingdom!

Go Hawks!

Grace,

Brian

Hide and Go Seek Anyone?

Hide and go seek…

Kick the can…

Sardines…

These were all some of my favorites growing up and as a youth pastor. Well, it seems I just finished a masterful game of “all of the above” when it comes to my blog.

I plan to be back to writing after Labor Day after an unintended break.

Though I’ve stayed pretty regular on my writing for Dare 2 Share, I have completely stayed away from my own blog over the summer. This was a surprise to me… but it came with good reason. I plan to write about the unintended break sometime this weekend and post it next week.

But no worries, I’ve heard the “ollie ollie oxen free” call! I’ll be at home-base and blogging again next week!

Grace,
Brian

Summer & Fall 2013, Speaking Needs?

I got a late start on my spring cleaning, but who can blame me, the spring was jam-packed with all things BUSY! Mission51 Retreats, consulting and speaking at a couple conventions/conferences.  But the cleaning did begin!

The fish was THIS big! My stories are NEVER exaggerated!

The fish was THIS big! My stories are NEVER exaggerated!

I would love to head into the summer with most of the little clean-up projects taken care of so that I can get rolling with some larger Youthmark projects (a few big writing projects). I’m pumped about this summer, time with family, time for writing, but yet my schedule is fairly open, perhaps a little too open? If you have summer or fall speaking opportunities, I’d love to fill in some gaps for you…

I just updated my speaking page, you can link to it above or right here. Maybe your church or org should be added to that list? Don’t hesitate to contact me (just give a few details of what you’re looking for and when)!

My car is clean, the garage is next! Blessings on your late spring!

Grace,
Brian

 

 

Five Things You May Have Forgotten

1328012_agenda_4When asked “what do you do?” most youth pastors can identify some major areas of his or her week (church meetings, youth group and message prep). Obviously there are other small areas that require more thought. However, many are forgetting some very basic but BIG areas. My hope is that this post will serve as a simple reminder.

Some things you may have forgotten to put on your schedule (in no particular order)…

Did you forget to encourage (and inform) your team members?

An early-week (short) email to your team (lay leaders) goes a long way. Share the wins from the weekend, the schedule for the next program event and give praise for the role your leaders play!

Did you forget to “read your Bible and pray?”

1415262_bibleThis may seem like a “duh” category, unfortunately I have to list it. I am discovering an increasing number of youth leaders who are only spending time in the Word to prep a message and MANY admit to not really spending any time in the Word itself, most just glance at the verses provided by curriculum. In addition, few of us are scheduling time to just listen to God and respond in prayer.

Did you forget to program as if someone new could be coming?

Take a minute to think about your Sunday School, youth group and small group settings from the perspective of the new kid. Would a new person know where to go upon arrival? Would he/she be greeted? Are people even trained in how to greet? Would you even be able to capture the new persons information so that proper follow-up can be done? Believe it or not, these things take time.

Did you forget to set the example in the areas of application that matter to you the most?

If I were to sum up my youth pastor-passion it would be to have students fall deeply in love with Christ, showing/sharing that love with the lost and propelling their Christian friends. But, I can only lead students/staff as far as I am able to go myself. Part of my weekly rhythm needs to include time prioritizing my own (peer, my age range) time with the unchurched and personal time with Jesus.

Did you forget to give others permission to develop and exercise their gifts?

Calling it as I see it: too many youth pastors spend too much time doing their own thing (agenda/direction for the ministry) rather than taking the time to equip and empower others to do the better thing. Even though it takes time, schedule times to collaborate (with students, staff and parents) and make space for others to use and develop those gifts!

Do these five things and you’ll see immediate results and long-term fruit!

What else would you say are areas we may be forgetting to schedule?

Grace,

Brian

Full Circle

This weekend has been a fun one for me.

I’m doing some behind the scenes stuff for the Dare 2 Share conference, namely doing some pre-work for the blog I write for them (here).

Not only is it fun seeing my many friends at D2S, it’s great to hang out with my friends from the band Everfound. Over the last few years I’ve had the opportunity to share in ministry with them (we’ve done camps and events together).

After my first event I did with them (2010) I got in touch with D2S and told them they needed to get Everfound on the radar. Here we are three years later and they’re touring together! It’s come full circle!

Two summers ago I had my family with me for a camp in Colorado that I spoke at and Everfound was the worship band (my kids fell in love with them). Since then we have had them up to the Northwest for a couple Youthmark events as well. My kids were stoked to see them today.

The Aaby kids with Everfound

The Aaby kids with Everfound

As I gear up for the main part of our Mission51 Training Retreat tour, this has been a fun weekend to sort 0f get ref0cussed on the task at hand and be encouraged by good friends.

Grace,

Brian

Social Media Reality Check- Are You Consumed?

1280072_keyboardThe month started with 34 items on the “to do” list. Each task varied in size & time needed to complete. Slightly overwhelmed, I took a deep breath and dove in… a few minutes later temptation crept in…

… “hey man, quick question” a ministry friend of mine, Brian Ford, was Instant Messaging me through Facebook. “What would you say about your Facebook use? You don’t really use it, you use it a lot, you tend to think everyone is going away from it… something else?”

Facebooking with Brian Ford was not one of the 34 listed items on the to do list. But somehow it became priority #1. If it weren’t Brian on Facebook it could easily be an alert on TweetDeck or an iChat notification. I do NOT consider myself nor have I been diagnosed ADD, however I am discovering how easily the notifications distract and consume.

I was honest with Mr. Ford and told him that I likely am on it too much. We ended up talking about this off and on the next few days and today we both have gone live with blog posts (his is here). Brian spends some time talking about some of the struggles it has caused in his heart, mind and relationships. My post tackles the moderation issue.

How Can I Stay Social & Networked But Not Consumed?

1030887_tweet_tweet___I enjoy Twitter, Skype, iChat, and Facebook and I easily justify the need to stay connected on them. Much of my livelihood has to do with staying connected, available and aware of what’s going on in the ministry world and with the ministers in that world. But the reality is, those I need to stay the most connected with have access to me via text, email or a call. I need to remind myself if I am needed, they can find me.

I do not want Social Media to become a hindrance to my family, faith and/or ability to get work done. So, I am experimenting with something I’m calling First 5, Last 5.

What is First/Last 5?

I am going to challenge myself for a season (a few weeks) to take the first 5 and/or last 5 minutes before or after major breaking times during my day to engage in social media. These natural breaks include breakfast, lunch, end of regular work day and before bed. Other than those times the apps will be off and the sites off my desktop.

I’m not going to be legalistic, but my general guide will be:

  • First five minutes as I begin my workday
  • Last five before lunch
  • First five after lunch
  • Last five at end of workday

My goal at home is to be to keep them off until the kids are in bed and Elisabeth and I are both at the point where we feel the freedom to relax (TV, web, Netflix, etc.)

I have found that I can too easily get sucked into my newsfeed and too quickly link to a blog, news site or become consumed thinking about a witty response to a persons tweet. Therefore, in order to protect my family, my ministry and my workload I’m going to give this First/Last 5 a whirl! Any other takers?

Grace,
Brian