What is Community?
An amazing collaboration with some amazing people at Rogue Valley Christian Church
To My Youth Group,
Oh Youth Group… My days as a teenager in youth group… I have fond memories of it…
Age 14-18 were the most awkward years of my life…. I mean really!
Not that youth group wasn’t fun and meaningful for me. Beyond the fun trips to Six flags, Summer camp and the free food on Wednesday nights, God used youth group, my youth pastor and small group leader to help shape the very person I am today. I hold that time so dear, but at the same time, being a teenager in 1999 was no picnic. Baggy jeans, playing snake on my Nokia Cell phone, trying to get your CD man not to skip while walking to school and getting booted off AOL because your sister picked up the phone. This was no easy time to live.
Okay I kid. Kind of… The more things change, the more things stay the same. As a pimple faced teen in youth group 15 years ago, I never would have imagined I would be a youth pastor. As I look back, I am so thankful for how God has shaped me. High School was probably the hardest time in my life. Having to deal with the massive family drama of divorce and remarriage was hard enough. Add on top of that, the drama and temptaions of being a teenager with all that comes with that, life was hard.
As I look at our youth group here in Medford in 2015 and look back to my own youth group days, there are a few things I want to encourage the students God has entrusted me with to embrace.
God made you! In His Image! Don’t change for someone else. One of the biggest regrets I have of high school is all the time I spent trying to be someone I wasn’t, to impress people who didn’t care one rip about me. If you like to sing, be in the choir. If you like Star Wars, wave your nerd flag proudly (I am the king of nerds). Be you! Be who God has made you. You have dignity, worth and purpose. Be You!
We are all sinners. The Bible makes that clear. Our sin separates us from God. But for those who have embraced a relationship with Jesus, He takes away our sin and gives us His perfection through his work on the Cross and Resurrection. Your past sin does not define your identity. The Apostle Paul, who’s job was to hunt down and arrest Christians before he met Jesus, was changed by Jesus. Literally. Jesus gave him a new name. Whatever mistakes you’re agonizing over, remember God is bigger than those.
YOU ARE A NEW CREATION! Do not let your past define who you are. Don’t let guilt paralyze you. Let Jesus do what Jesus does. He makes you new!
I can’t emphasis this enough. Tragedy will happen! Crap goes down. People may hurt you, family members may pass, your parents may divorce. People hurt you deeply. Pain comes! Don’t ignore the pain. Jesus says: Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Work through it. Scream at the sky. Pour your heart out to your small group leader. Cry, weep, vent. Give it to Jesus. Life can be so unfair. The consequences of sin around you and done to you can have a lasting effect. Don’t push it down. Don’t ignore it. Deal with it. Give it to Jesus. Let Jesus heal the wounds, even if it’s painful to let him treat them.
I have often told the story of how I tortured a kid in my high school who walked around with a briefcase. I called him horrible things. Only to find out he was dying on the inside. My words were like knifes. They were deadly. The Bible says in the Book of James that the tongue is like a deadly poison. Our words hurt. If we are all created in God’s image, who are we to belittle anyone? We don’t need to respond to others when they talk crap about us. Jesus loved those who were beating and killing Him. He asked the Father to forgive them. Love others! LOVE OTHERS!! LOVE OTHERS!!! THE WAY JESUS HAS LOVED YOU LOVE OTHERS!!!!
Feelings of awkwardness, loneliness, and worthlessness consumed so much of me as a High Schooler. The God of the universe loves you and wants a relationship with you. You have people here at the church who love you. Press into that. Embrace Jesus. He isn’t a joke or a religion. He is the God of the Universe who loves you with a ferocious love!
My small group leader in high school lived around the block from me. I spent so much time bugging him and his family. But he loved me. My youth pastor loved me! We love you!!! YOU ARE LOVED!!!
Even the best of us struggle with sin. While in high school I struggled with pride, lust and envy and the things that all went along with that. I would fall into a sin, feel guilty, promise to Jesus I would never do it again and spend the next few weeks trying not to sin. I would ask questions like: “How far is too far with my girlfriend?” My focus was the sin and not Jesus.
When a runner runs a race and he or she trips over a rock, does that runner sit there and focus and agonize over the rock they just tripped over. NO! They get up and run with their eyes on the finish line. The Bible tells us in Hebrews to throw off sin and fix our eyes on Jesus. Instead of spending our time trying not to sin we should fix our eyes on Jesus. Read your Bible (I know that sounds cliché), write things down in a journal, talk with other more mature Christians and positive adults who follow Jesus, talk to God.
Teenage years aren’t easy. Youth group can be full of drama at times. I remember often times me and my friends at youth group would compare it to an episode of 90210 (none of you will probably get that). But though it was confusing, I thank God for what He did in my life during that time. I have regrets and yeah there are a lot of things I would do differently. But God is the same and He used that time in youth group to shape me into the person I am today.
I love you guys!
What is Community?
An amazing collaboration with some amazing people at Rogue Valley Christian Church
Here are my top 10 anticipated movies for 2015. I’m glad I asked my friends and family for Fandango cards this Christmas cause I’m going to need them.
Movie Posters will have links to IMdB for more information on each film.
First there are some honorable mentions that I’ll be sure to see but didn’t make it to the top 10.
I didn’t originally want to see this but this film looks to explore some pressing social issues in a new and different way. The trailer looks funny and engaging. Should be a hoot.
So I am one of the few die-hard Disney fans who enjoyed Maleficent and this movie seems to be in the same vein. The live action retelling of the animated classic is sure to get the Disney purest angry, but I like what I’m seeing and it’ll be a great movie to take my daughters to see. Set to come out mid March.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in an Earthquake movie. Sign me up. The storyline isn’t revolutionary. It’s a disaster flick, but the premise looks interesting. Should be out end of May.
And now for my Top 10 Anticipated Movies in 2015
10. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Part 1 was great but left me hanging. Part 2 will bring me closure on one of the greatest film series in the past decade.
9. In the Heart of the Sea
Chris Hemsworth takes a break from Thor in this nautical period film. It has a Moby Dick feel (as it should as it is the true story that inspired Melville to write the book) and it’s directed by Ron Howard.
I don’t know much about it, except Disney isn’t making it, but Pan is another retelling of the Peter Pan story set to come out this summer. But any retelling of Peter Pan will get me to the theaters.
A Marvel Property I know nothing about but is suppose to fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This film has had issues getting made but in on track for this July. Interested to see Paul Rudd as a super hero. This could potentially be the come out of no where hit this year, much like Guardians of the Galaxy.
No one has taken on the story of Martin Luther King Jr. and his March in Selma, Alabama in a major motion picture. It’s already released in some markets (I believe for Oscar contention) but will make it’s full release in January. This could be a masterpiece or a train wreck but so far the trailers look spectacular.
5. Inside Out
Don’t call it a comeback… but Pixar is back with what some are calling potentially Pixar’s greatest movie yet.
4. Jurassic World
I was a huge fan of the original Jurassic Park movie. I did not like the sequels, so the thought of another film in this franchise didn’t excite me, until I saw the trailer. The premise is what the original Jurassic Park sequels should have been, plus you got Star Lord… I mean Chris Pratt, Hoping this won’t disappoint.
Epic! This looks epic. It is said that much of the conceptive this movies came from Walt Disney himself. I’m a huge Brad Bird fan, especially after Ghost Protocol. The trailer blew my mind and George Clooney looks to knock it out of the park. Much of the filming happened in Disneyland as well!
2. Avengers: Age of Ultron
It’s Avengers. Enough said.
1. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
I remember being young 10-year-old Star Wars fan and card-carrying member of the Lucas Film Fan Club writing letters to George Lucas asking him when the prequels would be released. In 1999 I had my answer. Unfortunately, they were horrible. This looks to be the Star Wars sequels we all wanted. Not only will I be there opening night, I will probably see this multiple times
What are your most anticipated movies in 2015? Let me know in the comments or via social media!
We’ve all seen those movies that were so bad, so painful, so awesomely horrible, the only reason we stayed through the entire showing is because we made the mistake of buying the large popcorn with the free refill and we wanted to finish it so we can get a refill on our way out… or is the popcorn thing just me? Movies like “You, Me and Dupree” that are just so painful to watch, that the only way you’ll watch them again is if it’s 3am and you’re awake with a painful ailment that clouds your better judgment.
But there are those other movies. Movies that shake you to the core of who you are. The movies that kept you silent as you walked from the theater into your car. I have a few movies like that. Movies that I would honestly rank among some of the all time greatest movies made, but have only been able to watch them once. Why I have I been able to only watch them once? I don’t know. There are dozens of movies out there that have rocked my world, but the following have done so in such a way that I have not been able to bring myself back to watch them again.
The first of two Spielberg movies on my list. The tail of Oscar Schindler was brilliantly told in this film, winning the Oscar for best picture in 1994. I was 14 years old when I saw it. It was being played on NBC unedited and commercial free. I was an eighth grader who loved history and was actually preparing to go with my school on a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. I watched this movie with my father and I distinctly remember this being only one of a small handful of times I witnessed my father tear up.
This movie so brought to life the horrors of the holocaust for me that since that time I have been to Poland twice to serve in cultural exchanges. While in Warsaw, I was able to see the Ghetto and place my hands on the walls where the Nazis would line Jews up and murder them for no reason at all.
This movie did not water things down. It was raw, truthful, and hard to watch. So much so, even though I have spent much of my life studying and learning of the events that surrounded that film, I have not been able to bring myself back to watch it.
Another Spielberg film. One the most brilliant films ever made: Saving Private Ryan.
It was Oscar nominated for best picture in 1999 but lost out to Shakespeare in Love. A film I admittedly saw in theaters as a sophomore in high school on a date, trying to impress a girl about how sensitive I was. I also have to admit I was then and still am a huge Shakespeare fan. Living in Southern Oregon I constantly find myself in Ashland for the Oregon Shakespeare festival, which now runs nine months out of the year and of which I am a supporting member. All that to say, as a Shakespeare fan I recognize Saving Private Ryan was the better film.
I remember feeling sick to my stomach after watching Saving Private Ryan and not abel to eat dinner that night. I have never been in the armed forces or in a battle so I can not imagine what warfare is like. I can say, after seeing this film, I have a profound respect for those who have served our country. This wasn’t just a blood and guts war movie for the sake of blood and guts. Sacrifice, honor, respect, all had new definitions for me after watching this film.
The Passion of the Christ
My last is probably my most controversial: Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. I am admittedly a Christ Follower and full disclosure, I’m a youth pastor as well, with a degree from a Christian University.
This movie had it’s problems. Historical, linguistic , theological and others but for me the suffering and sacrifice of Christ brought me to tears. I went to the first showing by myself on opening day. I remember hearing crying and weeping around the theater as we all witnessed a portrayal of Jesus being beaten beyond recognition.
As I walked out of the theater, all I could hear was the sound of footsteps and popcorn popping. Two local news stations were actually interviewing those who had just saw it for their reaction. 127 minutes of seeing a portrayal of the man my faith is based around was humbling and brought me to a realization of what true love is. I took a silent bus ride home as I wrestled with how someone could have a willingness to lay down one’s life for another.
I guess that’s what all three of these movies have in common. A willingness to put everything on the line, to lose it all, for the sake of persons you may never meet. This is a theme I think the world may need to hear. So much so maybe I’ll even take the time and view them all for the second time. But in a culture that’s all about me, these movies show us that’s it’s not.
In my early and mid twenties blogging was a poor grammar rant fest that usually got me into more trouble than it was worth.
Then there was my socially conscious blogging phase, at least, that’s what I thought it was. Again, I found myself in more trouble.
Then there was my theological blogging stage. Being a Bible College Student at the time I thought people would want to read my options and takes on the theological issues that were surrounding Christianity. Except, no one read it.
The list continues with just blogging about my life and trying to use my blog as a tool in youth ministry. That last one never really caught on in my small town youth group.
In the last two years I’ve spent a lot of time blogging and recording for www.theDcast.com. A Disney fan Podcast and blog. It gathered some steam and a loyal following until I left the small far Northern Californian town where I was serving as youth pastor, away from my fellow D-Cast blogger and co-host Matthew Hurley, to go back home to Oregon. Since that time coordination of recording and writing has been difficult with the distance between myself and Matthew. As such our readership fell off the cliff. Not sure what we’re going to be doing with that.
But I miss writing. I miss recording. So I’m taking my blog and making it a catch all about my life as a husband, dad, and youth pastor… also including movie reviews, current events, musings about culture, art, adoption, foster care, cinema, ministry, music, coffee, Star Wars, Disney, comic books, entertainment, pop culture, faith, life as an Oregonian and pretty much anything you can think of.
I’ll probably had a section dedicated to movie reviews along with a youtube channel linked to it.
I hope people enjoy what I write and that it is encouraging and uplifting.
With all that said, I need your help… What should I call it? The blog that is? What should I call the blog? Your input would be greatly appreciated :) .
E-mail, Facebook, Tweet or just leave a comment with your ideas for a blog/website name?
by Lindsey Herndon
“Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after 12 months of trying to conceive.” Our infertility journey began 6 years ago, however we only began to share our struggles 2 years ago. Many of you have prayed for us and some have supported financially. In our last update we announced that we had found the medication combination that I respond well to. The part that we left out was the reason we know I respond well. In June 2013 we, for the first time in 5 years, saw the beautiful word “pregnant” on a pregnancy test. We were so elated! We knew that with my diagnosis I was at a higher risk of miscarriage, so we only shared with a couple people. Unfortunately our excitement only lasted a few weeks, as we miscarried the end of June. We were devastated. We had finally had our dream of getting pregnant and so quickly it was taken away.
We chose to take a break from doctor appointments and medications until October. We now knew what worked so we started back up in hopes that we would get pregnant again right away. October, November, December, January and then finally in February it happened! We saw the wonderful word “pregnant” again. This time we were even more hesitant to get excited, but the weeks went by and all was good. Little by little we started planning…thinking of names, reading the daily email updates on how our baby was growing, dreaming of our future family of 6. Our first ultrasound was scheduled for March 31 2014, our 7th anniversary, and 6 years since we began this journey. But things went horribly wrong once again. The week we moved back to Medford I felt as something was not quite right with the pregnancy. I went to the doctor and was monitored for the next week where it was determined that I had an ectopic pregnancy. On March 31, I miscarried. The day that was supposed to be filled with overwhelming happiness turned into a day of overwhelming grief. We now have two babies in heaven.
I share this not to receive well intentioned “I’m so sorry” or “God must have needed them for a special purpose” or “At least you’ve been able to adopt” or “Third times the charm!”. Infertility is not just an inability to GET pregnant. It is also an inability to STAY pregnant and deliver a full term baby. I share this to inform others what it is like to deal with infertility. I share this as part of my own grieving process. I share this for others who have had a miscarriage and feel as if they were/are alone. I share this for those who never want to forget those babies they have lost. And I share this for those that have followed our story and were wondering what has been going on with us.
We have a choice to make now. Our next option is to see the reproductive endocrinologist in Eugene that we have been referred to. (Eugene is the closest doctor in this specialty area). We have heard wonderful things about him and even know personally a success story from his office. Unfortunately insurance will not cover a dime so we will be saving before moving forward.
My husband shared a post on facebook today that stated God WILL give you more than you can handle. And he posted the other day that you CAN be angry with God, he can take it. Those two posts sum up my own feelings right now. BUT…I still have faith that God will allow us to conceive again and deliver a happy healthy little bundle of joy! Please continue to pray. Please ask me how treatments are going. Please be understanding if I only give a short brief answer or if I ramble on about treatments for a half hour! Please be understanding if I don’t want to go to another baby shower for awhile. Please know that I’m still grieving.
During this week of National Infertility Awareness Week please pray for those in your life you know are struggling with infertility and pray for the ones who are lonely right now in their struggle who haven’t told anyone. Pray for those who have never been pregnant, those who have miscarried and those who have a biological child or children but are having trouble getting pregnant again. It is all infertility. It is all real. It all hurts.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Loneliness… that is the number one problem among teens today. The most connected generation in history feels a sense of disconnection like no generation before it. Jesus Christ and his church is the only remedy for this! Not only does one need Jesus but he gave us each other in the church. This can not be understated.
A christian without community is like a soldier without a unit it belongs to. He’s still a soldier but has no one around him to keep him from falling! We need each other and when we don’t connect with one another we see once strong believers fall away to the likes of unhealthy romantic relationships, drunkenness, drug abuse, sex, pornography and anything else that will take away the loneliness, if just for a minute.
We need each other, let us not forget that. We are made for community, in the image of God (as he exists in the perfect community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit).
You are not alone!!!
Just a quick reminder to all the Litehouse youth that if we get 30 on a Sunday Night we will play Can Can!
Over the past few years I have used my blog for many a purpose. For a time I wrote my feelings. By that I mean I just used it as an outlet to vent my frustrations. But my grammar and typing were bad and no one wanted to hear about the angst of a 24 year old college drop out.
As time went on (and I started school again) my blog became very political and I had a tendency to ruffle a few feathers with my political views!
As of late it has kind of been a catch all. Blogging about life, frustrations, ministry, school, books, music and trying to stay away from the political. Now, my blog is about to take a new turn. A pastor once told me “Don’t blog unless it has missional value”. By that he meant don’t just blog to blog, blog to enhance your ministry.
I’ve noticed as of late that many of my youth have asked me some really good questions concerning life, theology, relationships and so on. I began to think of a way to address these questions on an ongoing bases without interrupting my teaching schedule on Sunday Nights. I can’t think of anything better than my blog.
The word disillusionment meant to be freed from illusion or false truths. I’ve called this blog “Grateful Disillusionment” as I am grateful for those times when God opened my eyes to illusions that I was holding onto and showed me truth. Even when those times challenged me and forced me to question.
This is a forum to be honest and vulnerable. Ask your questions about God, Life, relationships etc. There is no judgment here and no condemnation. So feel free to read, comment and ask!
So I’ve been at this youth ministry thing for a few years now. As many of you know I took on my first full time youth pastor position this past July at Smith River Baptist Church in Smith River, CA ( the last town on the Cali coast before you hit Oregon.) I have loved every minute of being a youth pastor. But as I have begun to do ministry I think back to my youth pastor and how he invested in me.
You see if any of you knew me in High School you knew I was a jerk. I truly was. I thought I knew it all and that included what our youth group in Las Vegas should be doing. But if you also knew me in high school you knew that my family life was, well horrible and I was dealing with a lot of issues. Then Pastor Henry comes along in the beginning of my junior year of high school. Henry was saved at my church when he was a youth and had lead a high school/ college Bible study where I also lead worship before our previous youth pastor moved on.
I had known Henry for a few years before he became my youth pastor and considered him a friend. Henry was young, 23 I think, a few months from being married and had a passion for Jesus like I had never seen before. People gravitated to him, including myself. In the year and a half as my youth pastor he had such a great impact on me and helped to point me to Jesus! I’ve never thanked him for what he did, so this is my attempt to do so!
We butted head…
A lot! I’m going to be honest. We were both strong willed individuals and as a 17 and 18 year old I thought I knew it all!
I remember one time I had forgot my guitar strap for leading worship one Wednesday night. So I grabbed a stool and was going to lead from there.
Henry said: “ …if you’re leading and we ask everyone else to stand you need to be standing too.”
I said: “How?
Henry said: “Make it work”.
I said: “ That’s stupid and legalistic, I’m not playing!”
He said: “yes you are”.
That back and forth continued for about 20 minutes. I had my work shoes in my bag with me so finally after being a jerk to him and getting worked up and threatening to quit the youth worship band I took the shoe laces off of my work shoes and with an old sound cord fashioned a guitar strap for the evening.
I say all that because despite how many times we clashed (and it was a lot… I won’t talk about the time I threw rocks underneath a bathroom stall while he was in it on the way to camp and he then proceeded to make me sleep on the floor that first night at camp…lol ) I never once doubted that he cared for me and wanted me to fall more in love with Jesus.
He communicated truth unconventionally…
Whether it was lighting off firecrackers ( and I don’t think they were the legal kind) in youth group to display the foolishness of the big bang theory or wearing a Trojan Condom T-Shirt in a talk to a bunch of guys about abstinence, he communicated truth! I’ve since stolen many of his ideas ( some successfully and others not so much) but he was never afraid to push the limits to communicate the Gospel.
Henry spent a lot of time with me. And I just don’t mean at church. He went out of his way to connect with me outside of church. Every Wednesday my senior year of High School after youth group we would go to the restaurant in Vegas called Charlie’s and get chicken fingers and fries with two other guys and his wife Mary. EVERY WEEK for a YEAR! He just spent time with me. He was like a father to me in a lot of ways. I will never forget the time he spent with me and how he was just there. I knew if I had a problem he would be there. If I needed to talk he would be there. If I just wanted to hang out he would be there. He taught me the importance of “being there” in youth ministry. Henry was my friend!
He pushed me to be better and follow Christ harder…
His teaching, time and exampled pushed me to know Christ more! His example is who I follow now as a youth pastor.
Henry, Thank you for what you did and what you do. If I turn out to be half the youth pastor you were to me I would be happy. I still strive to have that “Christ Like Style” and ten years later am so thankful for you being in my life and you being my youth pastor! You were there for me and pointed me to Jesus. As I minister to these High Schoolers and JH’ers in my church I strive to do the same! Thank you so much!
(I promised myself I wouldn’t cry)
In His Grip!