Friday, January 29, 2010

A Winter Youth Retreat That Changed Lives

Last weekend I took my students from Third Lane Youth to a Winter Youth Retreat in Carlisle, PA. In my ministry experience I have gone to this event many times either with students as a youth pastor or when I was student, with my youth pastor. Same retreat. Same place.

I remember responding to an altar call, looking for hope, and discovered a new found Glory.
I found Jesus. I found Joy.

It was real joy for the first time in my life, and a real Jesus that I could call my God; not my parents God.

I'll never forget that weekend when I was 16. I came back home different. People could see a difference. My family definitely could. Especially my mom. I remember her telling me that the happy boy that used to smile and laugh all the time came back. Well, having braces and a Michael Strahan sized gap in my teeth would definitely make a teenager hide that smile. But I know what she meant.

Winter Retreat changed my life when I was 16.

Winter Retreat changed a life of another 16 year old this year.

This particular student is a type of guy who at times prefers being behind the scenes instead of being an up in front of people.

The last night of the retreat he stepped out his comfort zone and stepped into the Holy Spirit's comfort zone.

When a lot of the students left at the end service to run to the snack bar, he lingered at the alter and got his fill in a different type of way. When he returned to his seat I asked him, how was it up there?
He said he was baptized in the Holy Spirit and started speaking a different language, and just felt lead to start praying for people.


If you know this student well, this is not something that he would normally do, not because he doesn't like praying, but stepping out is not his thing, it's scary, for this 16 year old and for many of us.

"Faith doesn't count unless you do something about it in your behavior and in your actions." a quote from of Hope International Ministries member Dr. Basil Jackson who is currently serving in Haiti.

Oh to have faith of Dr. Jackson.

Oh to have faith of a 16 year old.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bend Not Break

This past year in Youth Ministry has been my toughest. Everything that your teachers tell you about in Bible College that you shrug off (or at least I did) seemed to come to reality this year. There were moments when I really found my self questioning and wondering if God had my back and was in this.

God always has your back.

I've heard someone say that Ministry is marathon.
I've heard someone say that Ministry is a sprint.

I believe Ministry is War.

It's a war you are called to fight in.

It's a fight to pray.
It's a fight to worship.
It's a fight to lead with passion and truth.

It's a war that you fight until The General gives you new orders.
John Mayer might be on to something in his album "Battle Studies," it's Heartbreak Warfare.

My heart has been broken many times.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (psalm 51)
In those broken moments maybe God is trying to mold you into something new. Mold me into something new. Change is something that you must face and deal with in following the cause of Christ.

Being flexible is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength, because you will be bent. The strength comes from not breaking under the pressure.

The bigger the bend in the bow, the further the arrow can go.

Fight the good fight for the true faith. HOLD TIGHTLY to the eternal life to which God has called you. (1 tim 6:12 NLT)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Brother Mash Up

Last night was a pretty cool night for the Di Salvatore family. My brother Salvatore (Jack as I call him) came to our church to speak at a showing of the movie The Book of Ruth. He is the screenwriter for the film. Jack shared about some obstacles he and the director had to go through to make this movie possible and to keep the film to true to its biblical roots.

Prayer was key in making this film possible.

It was inspiring to see the people's reaction to the film.
It definitely made an impact.

As one Ukrainian Pastor said who was in attendance, "That was a powerful film." (It sounded really profound in the super-cool accent that he had.)

Sometimes when there are obstacles and opposition it just means that your on the right track.
"In every beautiful thing there is some sorta of pain," I think Bob Dylan was on to something there.

I am very proud of my brother for following the call. A very difficult one at that. The movie industry is tough and challenging in of itself, but to try and elevate the standards of Christian films can be an even greater challenge.

My mom was not able to have children and my brother and I are both miracle babies. I do not take that for granted.
I believe that there is a strong call on both our lives.

Jack happens to use a camera.
I happen to use a pulpit.

But we both rely on the Holy Spirit to make a difference in the lives of people.

Friday, January 8, 2010

My Favorite Event As A Youth Pastor

Water Baptism has become a new tradition for the students of Third Lane Youth.

Two years ago I was inspired by a Water Baptism video that Mark Batterson showed at a pastoral conference. At my church Water Baptism was done in the church, in a pool/tub, and by an associate pastor. Watching the video by Batterson I felt quickened in my spirit to take the lead and start having Water Baptism for our students and lead the service.

We have our Water Baptism's at Pinchot State Park, and there is nothing like having this life changing event in the midst of God's creation.

We had our service last July and it was an amazing day. The weather was beautiful, we had lots of support from family and friends in attendance, and the students bravery to publicly profess their love for Jesus Christ was inspiring.

I remember when I was baptized when I was nine years old in swimming pool. The church my family at the time attended was a church plant that met inside a school, so our Baptism service was at a pool party.

I don't remember much from when I was nine, but I remember that day...

I hope you enjoy this latest video of the nine brave students of TLY. They are my heros. I look forward to 2010 to be inspired again by the students of Third Lane Youth.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Top Ten Albums Of The Decade... 2009 Muse:: The Resistance

Epic. Apocalyptic. British. Muse is a band that does nothing on a small scale. The Resistance is an eclectic mix of sounds, textures, and stirring vocals by lead singer and brain-trust, Matthew Bellamy. The album takes you on a journey, thru progressive, classical, and electronica that comes together in a beautiful mess that is dark but yet glorious.

The album opens with Uprising a rhythmic march of a song that can empower any sports star to get hype for the game, or any empower any citizen to overthrow the government.

It's that mix that makes Muse probably the most interesting band in the world (however I do not think they drink Dos Equis).

Muse has a sound that is unmistakably...well...Muse. However, on this album you can really hear the bands that inspired and paved the way for artists like this. The track United States Of Eurasia is an amalgam of Queen-like-harmonies, massive string and drum instrumentals likened to Biblical Period Piece movies (Exodus), and to top it off a classical excerpt from Chopin.

The three part epic Exogenesis is as erie and ethereal much like Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon.

Muse is either brilliant or totally indulgent, but aren't most things British.

Whatever side of the fence you find yourself on one thing is clear these are some amazingly talented musicians. As Bono said after Muse opened for U2 in DC, "It's amazing that you can get such a big sound out three guys."

Speaking of U2 and Muse, seeing them at that particular DC concert was well, Epic is overused, and awesome is so 1999, maybe Massive is a good word.

The stage was massive... (gigantic rocketship-stage that took up almost all of FEDEX Field.)
The sound was massive... (my ears were buzzing for days...gotta love it)
The stadium was massive... (having floor passes FEDEX Field is a stinking huge stadium)

It felt like a concert of eschatological (a big scrabble word for end-times) proportions.

The super cool thing about being at this massive concert was getting to meet author and pastor Mark Batterson. He was there with his son Parker, to see U2, his son's first concert.
Mark is a super-cool guy who is totally humble and authentic.
How can you not like a pastor who takes his son to see U2.

Seeing Batterson interact with his son reminded me of my first concert with my Dad. We saw Bob Dylan and it changed my life. It brought me closer to music, it brought me closer to my Dad.

I hope you enjoyed this blog series on music of the last decade.
I hope there will be more opportunities of great music and great experiences in the decade to come.

Concert Footage from the Show in DC FedEx Field.