Author Archive for

06
Nov
08

The Path

100_5042THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference

Robert Frost

Most of you probably recognize the above poem from an English Lit. class. It has always been one of my favorite poems and I think it speaks to the journey we are on as followers of Christ. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not believe that there are many paths to God (sorry Oprah). I fully believe what Christ said in John 14:6 when he said that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no man comes to the Father except through him. This poem speaks to me about our life after we come to the Father, through Christ. It has to do with the plan God has for our lives. Understand that I am not talking about the general plan. I know that we are all to follow the great commission and spread the gospel wherever and whenever we get a chance as we allow him to work through us to make disciples. I am talking about the specific plan that God has for each of us. There are some who say that God does not have a specific plan for each one of us. To them I would say, “Go back and look at the Bible from beginning to end.” It is filled with God revealing his specific plan to men throughout the ages. Need examples? Here are a few. Noah, build a big boat. Abram, go to a land I will show you. Moses, go confront Pharaoh and then lead my people out of bondage. Do you get the idea? And that is just some of what we find in Genesis. Over in the New Testament we see specific plans revealed everywhere.

Now, how does this apply to us? Well, in Jeremiah 29:11 we see God speaking though the prophet, telling the nation of Israel that he has a plan for them. The plan is a good one and it is designed with their best interest at heart. According o my Bible, God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He doesn’t change. This means that if he has a plan for individuals, and for his chosen people, then I think it is safe to say he has a plan for us, his children, too.

The question then is, “Do we know what his plan is for us?” If so, “Are we following it?” Over the years I have not only had to evaluate where I am in relation to following his plan, but I have also been asked to help others as they strive to discover and follow his plan for their lives. That leads us back to the poem. Over the years we are faced with many forks where we are forced to decide to follow on in the direction he is leading, or to venture off in a different direction of our choosing. We may deicide to venture down one path with the idea of coming back and taking the other if things do not work out, but we know that we will likely not come back.

God does not promise us that the plan will lead us down smooth, easy paths, but he does promise to be with us every step of the way (Hebrews 13:5). One of the reasons I think that there are some pretty miserable Christians out there is because they have gone down the wrong path and either do not understand that they are on the wrong path, or they are too stubborn to admit that they have gone the wrong way. Either way, they have allowed themselves to be taken outside of God’s specific plan for their life. In fact, it is the idea of this “path” and its importance that inspired my person blog. Where are you? Are you on the path God has chosen for you? Or, are you free lancing it, thinking you can just make it on your own? Finding the right path takes effort on our part as we seek God’s face, but finding it draws us into a closer, more intimate relationship with the one who knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb. I think his way has to be the best.

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22
Sep
08

Content

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

Phillipians 4:11

This has been my favorite verse for years.  I know a lot of people focus on Phillipians 4:13, but I have always drawn a lot of encouragement from this one because I don’t think we focus enough on how important it is to be content in Christ.  Being contentment is not to be confused with being complacent.  To me contentment means to know that I am where God wants me to be and he is doing what he wants to do in and through me at that time.  It keeps me from getting anxious, and it helps me enjoy life “in the moment” so as not to miss many of the little ways God reveals himself to me.  My sense of being content comes from him and not from exterior forces or circumstances.  It really helps me face whateveer comes my way with that peace that passes all understanding, but that is another verse for another time.

28
May
08

Name

The following is a magazine article I wrote a fews years ago, but never published. It is intended for Student Pastors, but may be useful to anyone who works with young people. I would love to know any thoughts you have on the article, or any questions it raises.

 

What’s In a Name?

As I look back over the past eighteen years, I can see how student ministry has gone through numerous transformations in order to get to its current status. Many churches now understand the importance of having a student ministry in order to appeal to the middle school and high school age group, but do the leaders within these ministries understand what it takes to create a student ministry that does more than bring students within the four walls of a church throughout their school years? As a minister to students I have had to become a student of ministry in order to better understand what works and what doesn’t when developing and adjusting a ministry to meet the needs of the young people who are participating in the ministry, as well as the students we are trying to reach.

Studies have shown that the high tech bells and whistles that many ministries incorporate in order to attract students are not as important to the students as they are to the leaders. That is not to say that we shouldn’t use modern technology as tools within our ministries. Rather, we should understand where technology fits into the overall scheme of things as it relates to the ministry as a whole. It has also been discovered that the lessons, be they through messages delivered by a speaker in front of the group, or active learning experiences incorporating the individual’s participation are not what young people really remember from their student ministry experience. What matters the most to the majority of the young people who give us the privilege of sharing a portion of their lives are the relationships they build within the confines of our student ministries.

This is not a surprise to many of us. We teach our students to be friendly to visitors. We present lessons on the dangers of cliques within our groups.  Continue reading ‘Name’

12
May
08

Connected

One of the things that I tell the students to whom I have had the privilege of ministering to over the years is, “I will always be your youth pastor.” What I am trying to get across to them is that I want to always be available to them when they need me, and that just because they have graduated doesn’t meant that our time together is over. In the twenty plus years that I have been doing what God has called me to do their have been many former students who have taken this very seriously, and I am very thankful for that. One of the things I have noticed recently is how much more connected I am able to be with these former students. Through the wonders of technology I am now able to stay in touch with them in ways which are far easier than past means of communication. With the advent of things like facebook and myspace along with email and text messaging I have so many more tools now at my disposal to enhance communication.

One day last week I was able to have an online conversation with a young man from the first church I ever served at in a full time capacity. I was checking my facebook page when the little chat window popped up with a message from him. I think the last time I saw him in person was when he has in either 5th or 6th grade. In our conversation he told me about how he had just graduated from college, gotten engaged, and was getting ready to head to seminary in the fall. Wow, he has a lot going on, but it meant a lot that he took the time to stop by and fill me in on what was happening in his life. That same evening saw me involved in an online counseling session with another one of my former youth who is struggling with a lot of issues right now that a girl her age should not be forced to deal with, but it was a blessing to be able to be there for her and allow God to minister to her through me, even if I was may miles away from her.

I could go on with stories like this, but the point is that we live in an age where we are blessed with resources that make ministry easier on so many levels, but we have to understand that it still boils down to relationships. In ministry we are only as strong as the relationship we have with God and the relationship we have with those we minister to. The health of the relationship with the Father affects the effectiveness we have in our ministry to others. While my ability to connect with former students has changed drastically over the past few years, the ease of connecting with the Father has remained the same. The sad part is that I feel like I forget that fact from time to time. When he said “I will never leave you or forsake you” he wasn’t just giving us a saying that would sound good in a greeting card. He was giving us a promise about his abiding presence in our lives as believers. I am so thankful that I serve a God who is “Emmanuel,” God with us.

28
Apr
08

Stillness

vermont sceneHave you ever stopped and listen to how much noise there is around you? When you do this you will be amazed at the background noise that fills our lives and so easily distracts us. This past summer, while on a mission trip to Vermont, I had the privilege of spending a night in one of the most naturally beautiful places I have ever been. The spot was located on a mountain in a rather isolated part of the state. The top of the mountain had a small cabin and from the front porch you could see Mt. Washington off to the east, still covered with snow. To the north you could see all the way into Canada. The whole placed look so much like a scene out of “The Sound of Music” that I fully expected Julie Andrews to come dancing over the ridge, singing at the top of her lungs. Prior to our Bible study that evening I took some time to go sit on this big rock that was a little ways away from the cabin. The sun was setting. There was a certain coolness in the breeze. The scent of pines and wildflowers filled the air, and it was very peaceful. As I lay back on the rock and prayed I began to realize that for one of the few times in my life I could not hear any man made sound. In that moment God brought Psalm 46:10 to my mind. Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” God spoke to me in the stillness.

Continue reading ‘Stillness’




The Amalgam is a collective of various writers, photographers, artists, and random people in general. This weblog is a collection of their thoughts on faith, life, the arts, sports, and basically anything else. The views of the writers in the Amalgam do not necessarily represent the views of Concoxions Creative Ministries. But where we disagree with them, we still love them.