Changing Times

In the "Understanding & Parenting Your Teen" workshop I recently led I spoke of how culture is changing at a very fast pace and thus students today are much different than they were just a few short years ago. In the workshop I shared the Beloit College Mindset List, a list created by Ron Nief and Tom McBride of Beloit College. The list is designed to give faculty at the college an idea of the basic worldview and mindset of 18 year olds entering school in the given year in which the list is released.

The 2008 list has just been released. See if it makes you feel any older.

For these students, Sammy Davis Jr., Jim Henson, Ryan White, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Freddy Krueger have always been dead.

1. Harry Potter could be a classmate, playing on their Quidditch team.
2. Since they were in diapers, karaoke machines have been annoying people at parties.
3. They have always been looking for Carmen Sandiego.
4. GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
5. Coke and Pepsi have always used recycled plastic bottles.
6. Shampoo and conditioner have always been available in the same bottle.
7. Gas stations have never fixed flats, but most serve cappuccino.
8. The students' parents may have dropped them in shock when they heard George Bush announce "tax-revenue increases."
9. Electronic filing of tax returns has always been an option.
10. Girls in head scarves have always been part of the school fashion scene.
11. All have had a relative—or known about a friend's relative—who died comfortably at home with hospice.
12. As a precursor to "whatever," they have recognized that some people "just don't get it."
13. Universal Studios has always offered an alternative to Mickey in Orlando, Fla.
14. Grandma has always had wheels on her walker.
15. Martha Stewart Living has always been setting the style.
16. Häagen-Dazs ice cream has always come in quarts.
17. Club Med resorts have always been places to take the whole family.
18. WWW has never stood for World Wide Wrestling.
19. Films have never been X rated, only NC-17.
20. The Warsaw Pact is as hazy for them as the League of Nations was for their parents.
21. Students have always been "Rocking the Vote."
22. Clarence Thomas has always sat on the Supreme Court.
23. Schools have always been concerned about multiculturalism.
24. We have always known that "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten."
25. There have always been gay rabbis.
26. Wayne Newton has never had a mustache.
27. College grads have always been able to Teach for America.
28. IBM has never made typewriters.
29. Roseanne Barr has never been invited to sing the national anthem again.
30. McDonald's and Burger King have always used vegetable oil for cooking french fries.
31. The students have never been able to color a tree using a raw-umber Crayola.
32. There has always been Pearl Jam.
33. The Tonight Show has always had Jay Leno as its host and started at 11:35 p.m. Eastern time.
34. Pee-wee has never been in his playhouse during the day.
35. They never tasted Benefit cereal with psyllium.
36. They may have been given a Nintendo Game Boy to play with in the crib.
37. Authorities have always been building a wall along the Mexican border.
38. Lenin's name has never been on a major city in Russia.
39. Employers have always been able to do credit checks on employees.
40. Balsamic vinegar has always been available in the United States.
41. Macaulay Culkin has always been Home Alone.
42. The students' parents may have watched American Gladiators on TV the day they were born.
43. Personal privacy has always been threatened.
44. Caller ID has always been available on phones.
45. Living wills have always been asked for at hospital check-ins.
46. The Green Bay Packers (almost) always had the same starting quarterback.
47. The students have never heard a gasoline-station attendant ask, "Want me to check under the hood?"
48. Iced tea has always come in cans and bottles.
49. Soft-drink refills have always been free.
50. The students have never known life without Seinfeld references from a show about "nothing."
51. Windows operating systems have always made IBM PC's user-friendly.
52. Muscovites have always been able to buy Big Macs.
53. The Royal New Zealand Navy has never been permitted a daily ration of rum.
54. The Hubble Space Telescope has always been eavesdropping on the heavens.
55. 98.6 degrees F, or otherwise, has always been confirmed in the ear.
56. Michael Milken has always been a philanthropist promoting prostate-cancer research.
57. Off-shore oil drilling in U.S. waters has always been prohibited.
58. Radio stations have never been required to present both sides of public issues.
59. There have always been charter schools.
60. Students always had Goosebumps.

Because of Compassion

I have been involved with Compassion International for over 20 years.
I have had the privilege of sponsoring a number of children and have seen God bless both their lives as well as mine.

Just today as I finished writing a letter to Jaciel Dominguez Hernandez the little boy we sponsor in Mexico, I came across the video that we were shown at the Student Life Camp I was just at. It speaks for itself.

This is why I so appreciate Compassion.

Click on the banner below and sponsor a child today. Please.

Help make a difference in the lives of children in need. Now is the time to sponsor a child.

Soil of The Heart

I have been giving a lot of thought to the Parable of the Sower that Jesus told in Matthew 13:3-8. In it He speaks of four types of people, and how they respond to the gospel. In short, it's a look into the condition of people's hearts.

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

In this short story Jesus references four soil conditions .... a hard path, shallow rocky soil, thorny soil, and good soil. As a pastor to students I am constantly evaluating where my students are in relationship to Christ. Some are obviously very close to Him, some far. I see all the soil conditions Jesus spoke of represented in my ministry.

Current statistics say that roughly 75% of students that graduate out of a youth ministry will walk away from their faith. I hate that. I have seen it. I have spent countless hours trying to figure out where we as a Church have gone wrong ,and why students are dropping away? While I think there is much the Church can do to better disciple students and equip them to make a life long commitment to Christ, I believe ultimately it comes down to their heart condition, the soil of their heart.

In verse 4 of Matthew 13, Jesus describes a path in which the seed falls upon and is quickly eaten by birds. I see this as the student who just does not care. We share Christ and the great life we can experience because of Him, but unfortunately they just don't care, not even enough to consider it.

Verses 5-6 speaks of the rocky, shallow soil. This is the person who responds quickly to the message of Christ but then almost as quickly as they responded, they back away. This person could be described as an emotional responder. If the mood is right, like at a camp setting, mission trip, or some other special event, they respond, but when they come down off the emotional high, it as if nothing ever changed.

Verse 7 tells us of the seed that fell among thorns that quickly choked out the young plant that has begun to spring up. This is the person that makes a commitment to Christ but then lets the concerns, worries, and temptations of life take precedent over Him. While they say the love Jesus, they love the world more.

Lastly we read in verse 8 of the seed that fell on the good soil. The soil that allowed for the seed to take root and grow into a strong plant that yields great fruit.

As I thought about this scripture in the context of my ministry, God began to reveal to me that I need to be praying for soil. I need to pray for the soil in my students hearts.

In the parable we see 25% of the people who have had "seed" sown into their lives, really going places and making a difference for the Kingdom. That is the same statistic as above!

The good news to all of this is, the 25% that let the seed really take root, produce a great harvest, a "hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." I have seen that, and it's exciting!

Instead of just pondering and even complaining about why we see the large drop off rate, may we instead commit to praying for the soil in the hearts of students. May we pray that students would taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8) and give their lives fully to Him, in complete surrender. It is then that we will have the joy of bearing witness to a great harvest!

Mission Camp

Last week was an incredible week. Ten of us spent August 4-8 at George Fox University with the Student Life Mission Camp. It was a great experience, one that far exceeded my expectations.

The theme of the week was The Way. Each morning and evening we were challenged with compelling messages on following in The Way of Jesus. Todd Agnew spoke each morning and Anson McMahon spoke each evening. Both very gifted communicators and used of God in a big way. Along with great messages, the worship each time we met, led by Kristian Stanfill was incredible. It was so awesome to see middle school students raising their hands and losing themselves in worship each day. As good as each session was, it was on Wednesday night, after Anson spoke, that we really celebrated.

On Wednesday night, August 6, we had the joy of seeing many students give their hearts to Jesus for the very first time. The best part, was that two of those students were ours! So cool to see the message of the Gospel begin to make sense, and watch them come to a point of surrender.

Each day after the morning celebration time we headed out to serve the community. It was in these times that the kind of worship spoken of in Romans 12:1 was truly lived out. What a great privilege it was to give of our selves as we served two widows, a church in need, and even spent a day working in a cemetery. To see middle school students sweating in the hot sun serving others, makes ministry to students all worthwhile.

As strange as it may sound, it was spending a day in a cemetery cleaning headstones that was my favorite day. It was a very old cemetery, established in 1899. Many of those buried have been there for over 100 years! It was so great to think about and discuss the stories of those that have gone before us and be reminded that we too all have a story. It is our hope that someday as our stories are recounted that they would be stories of lives well lived. Lives lived for the glory of our Lord. It was also very cool praying for the families represented in that cemetery. We didn't know them, but God does, and God cares.

Such a good week. Here is a video that captures some of what we were a part of.

See all the individual pictures here.

Found on YouTube

So I was surfing around on YouTube and much to my surprise, I came across a video featuring none other than my son and father-in-law. The video is espousing all the fun one can have with YouTube, and would actually make a great advertisement for them.

All the clips used were just randomly selected YouTube clips. With over 83.4 million videos hosted on Youtube, kind of funny one of mine got chosen!

When it gets to "be childish", that's my boy!

See the original video here.

On Mission

"...Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," (Matthew 28:19) is a truth that is central to what we are all about in 180 Student Ministries. It is our desire to live our lives on mission. To live lives that lead to others toward becoming disciples of Jesus Christ.

Today I leave with 9 others from our middle school ministry for a week long localized mission trip. We will be living on the campus of George Fox University in Newberg Oregon and participating in the Student Life Mission Camp. Each day we will be partnering with Love INC to serve the needy in Newberg. Most of our time will be spent showing the love of Christ to elderly folks and single moms, that are in need of assistance around their homes; yard work, cleaning, etc. Pray with us that as we serve, Christ will both be clearly seen and heard.

Our high school ministry is also on a mission trip this week. They left on July 29 for 11 days in Ensenada, Mexico. It was hard for me to see them go as it is the first time I have not gone with them in many years. They have been having a great time of ministry over this last week, building both a home for a needy family, and relationships with the people in the community in which they are living. Check out the updates Aaron Geist has been posting on the trip at his blog To learn more about their trip you may visit our Mexico Outreach web site.

What a privilege it is to be used of God in the building of His Kingdom. May it extend far beyond just a trip.