Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Expectations and Goals

When do we start having expectations? The earliest I can remember was in my teens, so needless to say I did not have them met.

My teen years were rough.

Curly hair was not cool, it was lame. And the whole geek-chic thing didn't really take off yet. So unless you looked like Curt Cobain, plan for a long four years of high-school.

I had to learn to be ok with me.

I loved playing sports but I never won the big one.
I loved playing drums but I never was in a band.
I loved learning new things but I never got great grades.

I believe having expectations are different than having goals.

With enough hard work you can meet your goals;
The ball is in your court.

It is dangerous to have expectations because although they may be similar to goals,
the ball is not in your court.

The frustration with expectations is not usually with us, but usually with others.

"At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.' But they all alike began to make excuses..."

"The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'" (Luke 14 NIV)

I understand the larger point to this parable is the Kingdom of God.
I also understand that there could be a subtle principle about expectations.

Unmet expectations can make you angry.
Unmet expectations can also be a time for creativity.

The owner was obviously ticked off that the people he originally invited did not come, but I love how he responds in the midst of his frustration.

He was going to have the party no matter what.

He met his goal, in the midst of unmet expectations and excuses.
The owner got creative and invited people that many in his position would over look.

I can relate to the owner who had the banquet in this parable.
I had some big expectations for this year in youth ministry.

Things have not gone how I expected.
I have gotten angry, frustrated, and ticked off too. (It's an Italian thing)

I have learned this year that in the midst of unmet expectations to get creative and leave the results up to God. I have seen more growth in students this year than any other year I've been here.

Im not talk about numerical growth.
Im talking about real, authentic, spiritual, growth.

The past number of years in ministry my expectations were to grow something big.
This past year my goals are to grow something healthy.

On a side note...

I may have never won the big one in sports, but my Dad got to watch me play.
(I'm looking forward to that one)

I may have never been in a band, but I've been playing drums in church for over 15 years. (thats longer than most bands stay together)

I may have never been the A student, but I read more books now than I ever have before. (some of my teachers would fall off their chairs if they knew that now)

The picture above is from my '98 High School Graduation of me and my bro Jack.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Another Generation [TLY Sermon 4.25]

Here is the latest sermon from Third Lane Youth. We have been going thru a 1 year bible as a youth group and I have been writing my sermons to go along with what they have read that week.

My hope is that students that missed TLY can catch the sermon here online, or anyone else who happens to read my blog.

The main text for the sermon is Judges 3.12-26 (NLT)
Supporting text. Judges 5.8 (msg) 1Tim 4.12 (NCV)

Key Illustrations.
Comparing Ehud Judge of Israel to Robin Hood (2010).
Comparing Deborah to Lisa a doctor who started a clinic in the poor section of LA (Bluefishtv.com)

It's recorded on a HD Flip. The video quality is ok. Some of the graphics from Keynote are hard to see, but hopefully you enjoy the message.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dorsey Ross Surviving the Odds & Inspiring Today's Youth

Last night was a very unique night for the students of Third Lane Youth because we had a very unique speaker, Dorsey Ross. He attended Valley Forge Christian Christian College with me, but I never got to really get to know him. I got to know him last night.

Maybe in college I was more wrapped up in being cool, than being cool to others.

I came across Dorsey's blog a number of months ago and what he shared in his post really touched me. Upon checking out his website I learned that he is a youth speaker who is passionate about reaching today's youth and sharing his story.

Dorsey shares a message of hope and purpose for this generation,
"Their are times, in our lives when we look around and wonder do I matter.
We have dreams and visions of what we want to do in our lives, but we question and doubt will we be able to do it... God loves us, and wants to use you for his honor and glory, because you matter to him."

Sometimes we can look at our lives and cry, "God, why me?"
Maybe we can look our lives and cry, "God, why not me!"

It was an empowering service last night for the students of TLY because of Dorsey Ross' example to overcome... but not just for them, it was for me too.

Check out his testimony and pray for Dorsey and his ministry to young people.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Doug Sayers One of the Most Influential Leaders in Youth Ministry Today

First impressions are funny things, and sometimes not very accurate, case in point- Doug Sayers. Upon meeting this Assemblies of God District Youth Director a few thoughts could come to mind:

His Boy-Band/Super Mario Bros. good looks (any one remember Joey Fatone), his cartoon character like voice which would be great for the Muppets or Disney (I would know, I sound like Kermit the Frog myself), and not to mention the fact that the man never ages. I think he got a hold of Dick Clark's or Carson Daily's DNA. Doug looks the same as he did when I was in high school (I have been told on good authority that his hair color is legit too).

Did I mention that he has been the DYD since I was in high school? In fact, this past PennDel Youth Convention would make it Doug's twentieth Youth Convention. Awesome. Inspiring. Rare.

To give you an idea of how long twenty years is...

1 Philadelphia Phillies World Series (yes that is a major milestone).
2 Wars (Golf War & Iraq War).
3 Different female Adjudicators have graced American Idol (Paula, Kara, & Ellen).
4 U.S. Presidents have been in office (H.W. Bush, Clinton, W. Bush, & Obama).
5 Major Batman Movies have been made (Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman&Robin, Batman Begins, & The Dark Night).

If Doug Sayers was a TV sitcom (and youth ministry often is) he would be up there with The Simpsons (21 seasons) as the longest running active TV sitcom to date.

What I am saying is that 20 years in the same position in youth ministry is a big deal.

It is not just Doug Sayers' longevity which has proven him to be an effective force in youth ministry, it is who he is as a man which has made the difference, especially in my life and thousands of other students in the Penn-Del District. Students are always coming up to Doug at colleges and events thanking him for his influence; he knows a lot of their names too! (I am still working on that talent).

I have to admit when I was in high school I would crack jokes on Doug's larger-than-life persona, however my perception would change once I became a Youth Pastor. I'll never forget that first year in ministry, it was tough. Doug took me out to lunch (which he paid for by the way) and shared his heart and helped give me some peace and some strength.

I learned about a man who would on a whim drive to the beach in the middle of the night with his wife just because (very cool). I saw a man speak who had a love and passion for young people. He is not in it just to receive a paycheck, but he is in it to give his life away to see young people grow closer God.

I remember asking him if he missed being a Youth Pastor since he works at the District Office (yes I was young and a little dumb). He looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Al, I may be the District Youth Director but I still see myself as a Youth Pastor."

That mindset has helped him become one of the most progressive and successful DYDs in the country. I have attended the last three National A/G Youth Conventions and the PennDel Youth Conventions are better... a lot better. Doug is always praying, thinking, and strategizing with youth pastors to help take Youth Convention to the next level. I don't think many people in his position would do that. I was talking with a Master's Commission student from Texas recently who said that the PennDel's Youth Conventions blow away the Youth Conventions in Texas (and everything is bigger in Texas).

Doug Sayers has set a standard and continues to leave a legacy that never settles when it comes to youth ministry.

Thank you Doug for being the District Youth Director.
Thank You Doug for being my District Youth Pastor.