Archive for August, 2009

I’m guilty!

Posted in Culture, Reflections on August 19, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

It’s been a guilt-filled morning for me, but I think in a good way. I was reading one of the guest posts at morethandodgeball.com, and it spoke truth into my life. This guy, Mark Cox, was writing about an almost-encounter he had in Wal-Mart recently. He describes walking down an aisle and overhearing one person say to another, “Today’s teenagers just don’t have any respect for anyone these days. It’s a problem with the whole generation.”

He goes on to rant (just a little bit) about how, as someone who is technically part of “the whole generation” in question, he took offense to this person’s comment. He states, quite correctly, that teenagers in general do not have a blatant disregard for authority, or a sick sense of pleasure in ruining the established order. They are simply still learning how do “do life”, and the last thing they need is discouragement and negative affirmation. As I read, I began to realize on how many accounts I’m guilty in this whole situation. Let me list them out.

I’m guilty – Of being part of “this whole generation”. I will turn 25 in a couple of weeks, so it has been awhile since I’ve been a teenager, but I’m still part of the Millennial Generation (graduating class of 2000 and onwards). I grew up with MTV. I can’t clearly remember life before cell phones. I spend a (probably more than) reasonable amount of time on the internet, watching TV, playing video games, and listening to music.

I’m guilty – Of bashing “this whole generation”. I have always gravitated towards those who are older and more mature than myself. As a result, I sometimes forget that I’m a part of the same generation that some older folks like to bash. I’m on the front-end of the generation, but that’s no excuse. Like Cox says in his blog post, I should be leading the way for those who come behind me.

I’m guilty – Of not leading the way effectively. If the middle and tail-end of “this whole generation” turns out crappy, I am at least partially to blame. Why? Because mountains of research back up the fact that, even though on many levels parents are still the primary influence on adolescent behavior, peer groups are an ever-increasing influence on the lives of young people. If the people who are only a few years younger than me are screwed up and worthless, then at least part of the reason for that is that I have done a poor job exerting positive influence on them.

I’m guilty – Of not recognizing that to characterize “this whole generation” as anything is shallow and near-sighted on my part. Including people that I went to middle/high school and college with, people I pastor now, and random teenagers I’ve seen in traffic, the mall, etc., I might actually have encountered 5000 young people (my middle/high school experience was about 3000, about 1000 in college, and probably less than that since then.). For me to make a judgment about an entire generation of more than 40 million people based on my encounters with, let’s get crazy and call it 10000, is ludicrous. The same thing happened in the late ’60s. People look back on that time and think about how powerful and influential and pervasive the “hippie culture” was. Hippies accounted for, at the largest estimates, no more than 1% of that generation. I don’t have any data to prove this, but I would be willing to bet that a vast majority of “this whole generation” don’t live up to their stereotype as disrespectful delinquents.

So that’s it. Guilty as charged. I’m a well-adjusted, responsible, thoughtful citizen. I have made mistakes, but have learned from them, and am still learning how to ‘do life’ better. I’m a Millennial. And I’m proud to be one.

Peace.

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God views the heart

Posted in Reflections, Theological with tags , , on August 17, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

The sermon this week focused on Solomon and how he pursued wisdom. Something else jumped out at me, though. It’s an affirmation of something that we all know in terms of head knowledge, but fail to turn into heart knowledge oftentimes: God cares more about your heart than he does about your actions.

An insincere heart would read that statement and think, “So I can have a heart devoted to God, and still do whatever I want… Awesome.” That, however, would betray the heart as insincere. A heart devoted to God will not seek to do whatever it wants, but will seek to do what God wants. The intention will be there, even if the proper actions aren’t. Like in this story of Solomon from 1 Kings 3:1-14.

At this time. the Israelites were worshiping at the ‘high places’, altars to foreign gods that had been built on hills and plateaus in the past. Israel had strayed from God for so long that many people no longer knew that, according to God’s law, the only proper place to offer a sacrifice to the Lord was in Jerusalem. Solomon was no different. For much of his life, everyone had sacrificed to God at the high places. Why should he do any differently? Yet, because his heart was so sincere, this passage tells us that God looked at Solomon and was pleased with the intention of his heart, even though, according to the letter of the law, Solomon had sinned by not sacrificing in Jerusalem.

The moral of the story – don’t get hung up on what’s “proper”. When your actions are governed by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, there is no law against them.

Peace.

Sudden Death and Wisdom

Posted in Reflections, Theological on August 10, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

Wow, first post in forever!

I was doing some research today for our upcoming worship service, and ran across a verse that I must have read before – Psalm 90:12 – but never thought about as an answer to one of life’s tough questions. Whenever there’s an unexpected death (an accident, sudden illness, disaster, etc.) someone always asks the ‘why?’ question; why did this happen?, why did this person have to be the one?

As I was reading through some scripture today, Psalm 90:12 jumped out at me – ‘Teach us the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.’ That says to me that sometimes people we care about die so that we have the opportunity to gain wisdom by recognizing how fragile life is and how much we need to rely on God.

Maybe that will give you some hope and some answers if you’ve experienced a loss recently.

Peace.