Youth Ministry Team Meeting

Hey y’all-

  I want to thank you (again) for your service to the youth ministry at Living Hope. I hope we can use this blog/forum to communicate and work through some pressing issues….and just to talk to one another from a bit of a distance.

  Yesterday’s meeting was initially focused on three spiritual disciplines – prayer, fasting, and Bible study.

  Prayer – Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
    Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:9-13).

  I am asking all of us to pray earnestly for the youth that the Lord has entrusted to us. And, to “increase and abound in love for one another and for all” as we seek to minister to these kids and their families. Prayer is the foundation of this ministry….

  Fasting – I have been challenged and convicted by my lack of fasting. So, I confess that lack of spiritual discipline to you and ask you to keep me accountable. Ask me about fasting. Ask me if I am fasting and praying for the youth ministry. And, I want you to join me….I’m not setting up any fasts (yet), but I am asking you to consider the command of Jesus to fast.

  Jesus said, “When you fast…” (Matthew 6:17). He didn’t say “if.” And, if you are a faster, please teach me….I want to learn!

Bible Study – As Christians, we should always be in God’s Word. As leaders in the Youth Ministry, it is imperative that we get in God’s Word. Why?

  So we can accurately represent God’s heart and teach God’s Word to the kids. So, please, get in the Word. If you need help, reach out to me or someone who you know is seeking God daily in His Word….we can help you. And, by helping someone else, we are held accountable and we learn more…

  So, please consider these spiritual disciplines and ask me if you need any help. Also, if you would like more information on spiritual disciplines, I would recommend Donald Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.

  This book would make an excellent addition to your personal library. It is an excellent primer on spiritual discipline. If you would like to borrow a copy, Rachel and I have one…

  So, this post is a warm-up….thanks for your service.

  Pray for a brother.

  Word.

  Jeff

Christmas Eve Reflections…

Hello everyone and Merry Christmas!

  This has been a wonderful year for Uncle Jeff. Why? Many reasons…but the most obvious one is Jesus is my Lord and Savior. Second? I am now a married man! On August 15th, I married the love of my life, Rachel.  God has blessed me richly with this lovely woman. Hallelujah!

  Okay…now to some reflections:

  I have been thinking about salvation, the Gospel, assurance of salvation, perseverance of the those who are saved, and all kinds of other things these days. Here are some Scripture meditations and links to Gospel-related content that I think might be helpful.

  1. A few years ago I wrote a blog about my belief in Jesus. These statements are simply written to be clear for those who might speak English as a second-language. I did not back them with Scripture, but I can if anyone needs clarification. Click here for that blog post.

  2. Lately, for my morning devotionals I have been pondering the “faith chapter” in Hebrews – Hebrews 11. In that chapter, the writer of Hebrews (I think the Apostle Paul wrote Hebrews) Works through an amazing list of men and women who had faith in God and were counted righteous because of their faith. Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

   The amazing thing about this chapter is the people Paul references are deeply flawed, sinful humans. If you take some time and read the life histories of these people in the Old Testament, you would see that they have serious issues. Adultery, murder, deceit, pride, anger, etc. Now, does God just overlook those issues in these people? No…not at all.

  Rather, God forgives them of their sins just like He will forgive us….through belief in Jesus Christ. This is the Gospel. In Romans 10:17, Paul writes, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Jesus said, “I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

  You must be born again through belief in Jesus Christ. You believe that Jesus is God. You know that you are a sinner. You repent (turn from) of your sin and ask God to forgive you through the blood of Jesus. His sacrifice on the cross paid your penalty. This turning from your own righteousness to trusting in Jesus for salvation is hard on your pride. Turn. Trust. Repent. Believe. Live!

  Here are some links to resources for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These men can explain it in ways that I cannot. Take some time and watch and listen. Really try to hear the Gospel. Do you believe?

   – John Piper: John is a pastor in Minnesota. He loves Jesus. He explains the Gospel in 6 minutes. Click here.

  – Propaganda: Prop is a spoken-word artist who loves the Lord and proclaims the Gospel in a unique and powerful way. The message is true, but the delivery is anointed. Click here.

  – Tim Keller: Tim is a pastor in NYC. New York City?!?!?! Yep, New York. He is a clear speaker. This clip is from a Q&A session at a university. He clarifies the difference between religion and true faith in Jesus. Click here.

  I hope and pray these resources give you something to think about and to place your hope and trust – Jesus!

  Merry Christmas,

  Uncle Jeff

Mo’ bloggin’

Hey y’all-

I’ve setup a blog with my lovely future bride to apprise folks of wedding information. Now, I realize most of y’all (the three or four people who actually read this thing) may not be able to come to the wedding. But, I still wanted you to know where you might be able to read more about our relationship. Well, the genesis of our relationship.

So, check out: The Aggie and The Preacher.

Hope all is well in your part of the world.

I preached this morning and am enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon at Starbucks updating this kind of stuff….

Livin’ the dream,

Uncle Jeff

Playing Bluegrass in Europe

Hey y’all-

I’m heading to Europe with The Long Run Players. We’ve posted a blog about our needs for the trip.

Read it here.

Take a look and let me know what you think.

Livin’ the dream,

Uncle Jeff

Christmas Cheer

Hey y’all-

Last week, the church where I serve as Associate Pastor, GracePoint Church, participated in an effort to deliver food, toys, and clothing to those less fortunate in eastern Kentucky. We loaded up, headed out, stopped at Cracker Barrel for breakfast, and drove over 200 miles into the hills and hollers of Kentucky.

The day was a cold, rainy, cloudy day…perfect for delivering Christmas cheer to those who need it. And, a great day to show the love of Christ through a tangible expression of clothes and other goodies.

When we arrived in Lynch, KY, we met Lonnie and Belinda who head up a sweet little ministry empire (can I use that word?) called Meridzo Center Ministries. Lonnie told us about how they came to acquire their Solomon’s Porch Retreat Center.

Short version:

Lonnie and his wife were offered an opportunity to buy the retreat center. It was an office building that was built by a corporation in the 1920s. The owner wanted $85,000.He gave Lonnie and Belinda 30 days to buy the place.

Lonnie and Belinda had $0. So, they prayed.

Lonnie told us that he didn’t ask anyone for any money. They didn’t send out a letter asking for support. They didn’t do anything but pray. As God began answering their prayers, money started coming in. Over a period of three weeks, they had received about $25,000. This was good, but not enough.

One week before the sale was to happen, the owner called Lonnie and they made plans to meet and hand over the deed. The owner reminded Lonnie of the amount-$85,000. He asked how much money Lonnie had…Lonnie said, “$25,000.” The owner said, “Remember, you need $85,000.” Lonnie said, “Yeah, I do, but I don’t need it today. I need it one week from today and God will provide.”

During that week, Belinda was contacted by a benefactor who said he wanted to send them some money. He had been praying and God had told him to send some money to Lonnie and Belinda. She told him to send it on….

A few days later, Lonnie asked about the money the man was to send. Belinda checked and said he had wired it. Wired? Lonnie asked, “How much did he send?” They checked with the bank and he had sent $65,000.

Lonnie and Belinda had a cashier’s check for $85,000 waiting on the owner of the building when he arrived to sign the deed over. The owner was amazed. Lonnie told him that he lives by faith in a faithful God and the owner could have that same faith if he placed his trust in Jesus Christ…..

An awesome and amazing story of God’s provision. I walked through the 120+ room retreat center, built in the 1920s by Italian stone masons, with beautiful (donated) furniture and was humbled.

Note: The band I’m in The Long Run Players has a Youtube channel and a blog and we’re on Twitter and Facebook. Want to follow us?

Click here for Youtube.

Here for Facebook.

Here for Twitter.

Here for the blog.

Merry Christmas, y’all.

Uncle Jeff

 

Thoughts on Thanksgiving 2010

Hey y’all-

Haven’t dropped a line on here in awhile, but I’m feeling a little froggy. I thought I’d reflect on Thanksgiving a bit.

First thought:

A year ago, some friends and I were throwing a party this week in Banciao, Taiwan. We wanted to get together with some college kids we knew and tell them about the American holiday – Thanksgiving. As we told them about being thankful and our American traditions, it was very natural for us to tell them about our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Here’s a shot from that great night:

Truthfully, country music, Starbucks, and flip-flops (three things I am thankful for on a regular basis) are great, but true thankfulness comes when one realizes the gift given by God in his Son, Jesus Christ. And, once you see and receive the gift given by God to free you from your sin, pain, darkness, and hopelessness, then it is very easy and joyous to be thankful in all circumstances. I call this conversion and so does most of Christian history.

So, I am thankful….for Jesus and his love for me that enables me to be cleansed of all unrighteousness and made whole in the eyes of the Father. Can you say you are thankful for that type of love, freedom, joy, peace, and righteousness? If not, message me and let’s talk. This is too important to pass over…..

Second thought:

The holidays make me a little lonely. I see all the adverts on the telly (kinda Brit, right there) and think, “Man, I’d like a hot tamale to snuggle with in front of the fire.” Then, I go hang out with married friends and see the stress and hear the arguments and I think, “Man, I’m glad I’m single.”

Having said that…if anyone has any connections to a hot tamale with low self-esteem and even lower standards, let me know. She doesn’t have to be perfect, but close would be nice….

Third thought:

My Mom makes a mean sweet-tater casserole. It may be wrong to look too forward to a dish, but I look forward to that every year. I missed it last year when I was overseas, so I’m doing a double helping this year. Mom, hook a brother up!

Final thought:

Have a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope and pray that 2010 has been a good year for you. I pray that your family and friends are well. I hope you have peace with God through a relationship with Jesus. I would love to see all my family and friends in eternity…I’m selfish like that.

Blessings.

Livin’ the dream,

Uncle Jeff

A Wild Year…for me….

Hey y’all-

A lot has happened in the last year. A year ago today, I landed in Hong Kong with four friends as part of a bluegrass band called “The Long Run Players.”

Sarah, Matt, Paul, Jeff, and Cameron..confused in HK.

We were stopping in Hong Kong for a few days of orientation before heading to Taiwan to serve with IMB personnel doing outreach and evangelism for six months. What happened in the 5+ months in Taiwan?

1. We met some really cool Taiwanese people like Amy, Gayo, Erin, Eva, Example, Stacy, Ifan, Ice, Slash, Joyce, Rain, Brian, Frank, Shelly, Chocolate, Patrick, Douglas, Wayne….etc…..

Some friends....

2. We ate some cool (and interesting) food.

3. We drank some great drinks like Black Pearl Milk Tea.

Black Pearl Milk Tea from Crazy Sue's

4. We played over 60 bluegrass shows.

5. We were featured on a national TV show on a Christian network (Good TV).

6. We told hundreds (even thousands) of people of the love of Jesus Christ and His desire to have a relationship with them.

7. We met some great M friends in Taiwan. (You know who you are…)

8. We ate some great apple pie (thanks, Patti!).

9. We traveled all over Taiwan playing music and seeing the sights.

10. We came home.

What has happened in the six months since landing back in the good ‘ol USA?

1. The band has continued to play and tell people about the people of Taiwan. (Over 25 shows since coming home…)

2. I graduated from seminary (SBTS) in May with my Master of Divinity degree.

Beauregard, Joe, and Me.....hotness

3. I was accepted to the doctoral program in Christian missions at SBTS.

4. I have sang and preached in churches in OK, TN, KY, MO, NC, and NY is to come….

5. I am getting ready to move to a new home here in KY.

6. I have snorkeled and sea-kayaked in Puerto Rico.

Playa Flamenco Culebra, PR

7. I have hiked in a rainforest.

8. I have told a lot of people about the love of Jesus Christ.

9. I met a girl in HK and we’re seeing if it’s gonna work……

It has been a great year. Here’s to the next one…..

Livin’ the dream,

Uncle Jeff