>Memories of Being a Boy of Fall

>Heard this for the first time while driving from Mo to Pa…loved the song, almost got teary-eyed remembering back several decades (again begging the question, “What is such a young guy like me doing in such an old body?”)…I only played for two years before alcohol/partying became more important to me than football (a lasting regret, by the way)…But this song and video spoke volumes to me…and perhaps thee?

>"Inception" Observations

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Andree Seu of World Magazine is a careful thinker and a phenomenal writer. She is worth the price of the magazine…but you can read her online and save money if you are that cheap (seriously, if you are not subscribing to “World” you are missing a lot).
Anyway, here is her take on the movie “Inception” and, as always, she stretches my mind…I did see the movie, and want to see it again to observe more closely and think more accurately:

It’s a good thing I’m a Christian because the movie Inception was too close to the bone. I still have a tendency to struggle with the question “What is real?” The main things in life are resolved (God is real; I am God’s), but old tendencies manifest at 3 in the afternoon as I type a post on a sunny summer day and wonder if it is consequential in any ultimate way, or if working in the garden would be more real. Of course, if I were out in the garden, I would doubt that too.

There have always been movies asking about reality, meaning, perception, and time, but Inception is The Matrix on LSD.

We have not one dream to contend with but three levels, plus layers of memory and flashback and psychological games—in other words, it’s a lot like your own life. In the indeterminate future (or is it the present?) Dom Cobb is a skilled “extractor” who invades other people’s dreams to steal secrets. He wants out, but for that he needs to do one last job, a mission of planting rather than purloining, something perhaps impossible.

My brother used to say, in our Buddhist days (about two weeks long): “If I dream that I am a butterfly, how do I know when I wake up that I am not a butterfly dreaming I’m a man?” After that we both became Christians, and not a moment too soon. Without the Scripture for a touchstone, we were ooze falling through ooze.
But Satan is the man of a thousand faces and reincarnations and turns up as an “extractor” and dream-planter in my renewed life. He has myriad ways, and you can read about some of them in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. Beware of distractions, contented worldliness, slippages from prayer, busyness, forays into nostalgia or regret, love of money, fear of man, Walter Mitty-fantasizing, materialism, bandwagons and noble causes, the long-term erosion of very small sins, theologies that induce complacency, addictions to food, addictions to sex, addictions to anything.

Like the great lion said to Jill:

“Remember, remember, remember the signs. Say then to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. . . . I give you a warning. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters. . . .”

There is a “totem” in Inception that the characters can consult when they are so turned around that they are hopelessly lost without a reliable plumb line of truth. I read the Scriptures more now than ever in my Christian life. It isn’t because I got more religious; it’s just because something tends to come over me around 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

>When You Gonna Get a Real Job?

>As I’ve stated a few times, my goal is to be the oldest youth worker in America…and I’m well on my way. A good thing observed over the last few decades is that youth ministry is sometimes seen as a valued and perhaps life time calling.

Yet this from the “Stuff Christians Like” guy is still, sadly, too true:

“Do you ever think you’ll be a real minister someday?”

If I had a dollar for every time someone said this to a youth minister I could probably train a worship eagle to hunt and kill the pigeon that pooped in the mouth of the Kings of Leon bass player, forcing them to cancel their St. Louis show this weekend after only three songs. (In pigeon society this event has already been labeled, “The greatest day ever.”)

Alas, no one pays me money when youth ministers get insulted. That’s a shame because it happens. We think youth ministers are goofballs. They’re good at kickball and pranks that involve whipped cream. And once a year we let them preach on youth Sunday.

But I think in a lot of ways, they’ve got the toughest job at a church. In fact, here are five reasons we should never consider our youth ministers silver medal ministers.

1. Liability forms
They should just call these, “Get out of jail free,” cards, because that’s what they are. When youth ministers plan a retreat, they’ve got to collect liability forms from each student. Why? Because someone is going home with a broken leg. That’s just going to happen. Someone will jump off a sand dune, throw an apple at someone’s head or get stitches. That never happens to senior pastors. Not once did my minister dad come home from an elder retreat and say, “Yeah, Hank Johnson tied a fake snake over the bathroom door and Mary Smith freaked out and broke her hand slamming the door shut.”

2. Relevance
Youth ministers have to be relevant across multiple generations. Senior pastors don’t to the same degree. When my dad mentioned Seinfeld in a sermon, he was mentioning something that as a 40 year old he liked. It’s different for youth ministers. They have to understand and communicate in their own generation and their student’s generation. What does that mean? Basically, you’re going to be forced to pick a team in the Twilight series. If you like jean shorts and sit ups, go Team Jacob. If you want to be an emo Robert Smith kind of vampire, go Team Edward.

3. Speaking
Youth groups are harder to speak to than the average Sunday congregation. I learned this recently while speaking to some students. After talking for about four minutes, I noticed that there was a kid asleep in the crowd. And not just a little asleep, he was sprawled out. Teens will fall asleep if you don’t bring it instantly. They also won’t fake laugh. Adults will give you “courtesy laughs.” Not teenagers. If it ain’t funny, they ain’t laughing. Teens, in a good way, make you work for it.

4. Dramas
I don’t know if it’s technically a rule, but poor youth ministers often end up being forced to perform cheestastical dramas on mission trips. Our youth group did a dance routine to Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” Maybe your youth group had puppets or handbells. You might have even had a mime troupe at your church. (I would name mine, “Gloves of Love.”) Regardless of the variation, chances are, your youth minister had to not only do his/her regular job but also be skilled at the performing arts.

5. Orange Drink & Pizza
I think youth ministers have a lifespan that is eight years shorter than the general population due to all the ghetto orange drink and pizza they are forced to consume. And it’s always the kind of pizza where you can’t tell if you’re eating a piece or have just started biting the box. The pizza is thin, covered with a sandpaper like layer of cheese, and crafted with crusts that could kill a man like an aborigine boomerang.

There are probably a billion reasons it’s difficult to be a youth minister, but one of the reasons that it’s not, is pretty simple:

This generation has more potential to spread the gospel than any other generation in the history of mankind.

It’s true, teenagers today will communicate more, share more and talk more than ever before. Twenty years ago, when a student heard a great sermon, they maybe told two friends at school. Now, they post a link to it on facebook. They tweet about it. They blog about it. Your sermon can go viral in about 12 seconds. The ability for this next generation to be salt and light is unbelievable.

I thank God for Kurt Andre my youth minister growing up.

If you had a youth minister you’re thankful for too, give them a shout out today. Forward them post and comment with this:
“I thank God for ________________.”

>Maybe We (Sometimes) DESERVE to be Persecuted?

>The Word promises, “All those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Not those who are (only), but those who desire!

That being said, some of the “persecution” Christians suffer is, well, rather deserved than, ah, earned.

Bragging about how we don’t do this or do this may well spawn persecution…and probably should.

Here’s some wise words:

This week I’ve been relecting on Acts 5:41, where we read that after the apostles had the tar beaten out of them: Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.  
As Chrisitans, we should expect persecution for our faith.  For most of us in the West, that takes the form of being ostracized and rejected in fairly minor ways (compared to being beaten or killed or imprisoned). 
But I think sometimes the world rejects us not because we are like Jesus, but because we’re jerks or weirdos.  If we go out of our way to remind people of our moral superiority, if we always insist that people who don’t love God should be expected to act like they do… then we deserve whatever rejection we get.  They’re really not rejecting Jesus, they are rejecting us.
So I sometimes talk to my church about the “ministry of being normal”.  As believers, we are necessarilly going to have a lot of distance between us and those who don’t follow Christ.  We live differently, love differntly, hope differntely.  We’re citizens of a different country.
But it might be helpful if we limit the distance between us and the world in a lot of other ways.  We don’t have to flaunt our lack of a TV and be weird and preachy about grinding your own grain.  That only serves to put unnecessary distance between us and the people we’re trying to reach.  Instead, we should try to engage the world around us, know what our neighbors care about, and try to inhabit the same universe they do. 
If they are going to persecute us, let us at least be for things that really have something to do with being a Christian.

>Rock On!

>Sure, I’m older than dirt…but I’m young on the inside! Attitude determines actions determines accomplishment! Besides, age is mind over matter…if you don’t mind; it don’t matter.

Know nothing about this guy…but, wow…wish I always enjoyed my “job” and “life” as much as he does his little d. j. thing:

>Saved from What? or…better, Saved From Who?

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Tremendous stuff from R. C. Sproul:

“What do we need to be saved from? We need to be saved from God—not from kidney stones, not from hurricanes, not from military defeats. What every human being needs to be saved from is God. The last thing in the world the impenitent sinner ever wants to meet on the other side of the grave is God. But the glory of the gospel is that the One from whom we need to be saved is the very One who saves us. God in saving us saves us from Himself.”http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=jacksjots-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1581344171&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

>The Billy Graham connection

>Ask a lot of 30 or unders who Billy Graham is…and you’ll get a blank stare. Really. Try it.

Here’s a wondrous prayer penned by Scotty Smith about the man, his mission, and the Lord connecting the two for Scotty’s good and heaven’s glory:

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:7-8
 
     Dear Lord Jesus, you alone are Savior … you alone are changeless … you alone are worthy of our unfettered adoration, unabated affection, and unquestioned allegiance. There’s no one like you—no one so full of grace and truth… so merciful and mighty… resplendent with beauty and a wellspring of generosity.
     Speaking of your generosity…

I begin this day humbled and grateful for an afternoon spent with one of those to-be-remembered leaders who first spoke the word of God to me—the man who first told me about your death for me and your great love for me… Billy Graham. He was on the silver screen… I was sitting in a theatre seat. He was an impassioned 49 and I was a squirrely 18. Jesus. He extended your call to eternal life, and you gave me the faith to believe. That was 42 years ago… great is your faithfulness, great is your kindness, great is your gospel!

     To be in his welcoming home, to look into those magnificent eyes, to shake his aging hand and finally be able to “Thank you,” was one of the great joys of my life. And as fully expected, he simply deflected the praise to you.

     Consider the outcome of his way of life and imitate his faith? Grant me the grace and strength to do so, Jesus. As we prepared to leave, his words of encouragement were clarion clear. “Keep Jesus central to everything… see Jesus everywhere in the Bible… pray as much and as often as you can.” Indeed, grant me the grace and strength to do so, Jesus.

     I pray his desire to preach one more sermon will be realized. His text, printed in huge letters right beside his favorite chair? May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14). If he never mounts a pulpit again, he preached this text loud and clear in my heart yesterday afternoon…

     Jesus, thank you for saving me through the preaching of the gospel by your faithful servant. So very Amen, I pray, in your holy and loving name.