Youth Ministry in the Facebook Age

 

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” Ignorance is bliss” was a term first coined by Thomas Gray in his Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.  I may be the only one who feels this way, but as a veteran church youth worker sometimes I miss the blissful ignorance I was able to experience previous to social media.  I do not say this as a technology hater, but as a person who loves social media and has an account on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even maintain my Myspace for a rainy day.  I miss the days of ignorantly believing that every one of the students in my ministry was latching on to the things they were being taught and learning to live them out.  I am such an optimist in most cases, I want to believe the best about people and believe that all of them are truly opening their heart to God.  The world of social media sometimes robs me of my optimistic dream world as students so openly and truthful share who they really are on the world wide web.

Maybe this is just me, but my heart hurts sometimes when I read the words of those I shepherd online.  It hurts so much because every part of me knows that the answers and joy that they are seeking in other places is found in allowing their head knowledge about Jesus to become a heart devotion that consumes their life.  It hurts so much because many of them sit week by week and learn more head knowledge about Jesus, but never let him completely lead their lives.  I wonder what it may have been for my youth leaders to have to sit and read the filth, doubts and soul searching I spewed from my mouth as a teenager.

None of these feelings I have come from a spirit of judgement, at least it does not feel like judgement in my heart.  Every student means the world to me, whether they realize it, or I show it poorly.  The passion of my life is helping people truly know Jesus, and I want that for every student that has ever been under my care.  My heart breaks anytime a student walks away from church.  My heart breaks anytime I see a student post things that dishonor Jesus.  My heart breaks when a student can sit through service after service at my church and still miss Jesus.  I used to be able to lie to myself and believe they were all getting it, but social media gives me a taste of reality.  A hard reality.  A reality I do not like to acknowledge.

I definitely see the great things that social media brings to my ministry.  It provides so many great tools for communicating, relationship building, and getting a window into the students world.  Maybe I am ignorant for saying this, but sometimes I wish the window was not so clear.  Satan uses it often to whisper to me of my ineffectiveness.  While many times my methods are ineffective, I know I serve a God who can change any life and that is what keeps me going.  My calling will always be to show people Jesus and hear me clear that is exactly what I want to do.  If you sometimes feel like I do cling to Jesus and your calling even when what is before you may not seem to be bearing fruit; those who you shepherd need you to keep going.

FOR MORE ABOUT DARRELL CLICK HERE

I Remember the days…

As my bald head freezes due to the crazy temperature drop here in Texas today I find myself being a little nostalgic.  I am beginning to wonder if the concept of loyalty exists in today’s culture or if “the-grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side” principle will now forever be the mantra of our YOLO society.  Whether we verbalize the hip term YOLO, we have embraced a mindset that says I am number one and I will make my life about me.  If I want to take a risk… I will, if I am not comfortable… I will bail, if I can heap more riches upon myself… I will chase it, and if there is something I deem better… I will grab it.  You only live once so do what you want and look out for the only person that matters.  You.  So many institutions of our society are affected by this chasing of comfort, money, adventure, risk, reward and self indulgent newness: Church, Sports, Marriage, and the work place.

Call me an idealist but I remember when people valued loyalty above self indulgence.  If I am transparent I even see this value of comfort over loyalty in myself.  It is so easy when times get tough to run.  It is so easy when more money is extended to take it and run somehow hoping it will give us more joy.  It is easy to look at another person’s situation and wish ourselves into their place thinking that in that we would find more joy.  It is easy to look at life as taking risk after risk because your only purpose is trying to find the high that newness brings.

BUT I remember the days…

* When people dedicated themselves to one company and worked there until they retired.  I know today’s economy does not always allow this, but loyalty chooses to endure even when present seems cloudy.

* When people made the covenant of marriage and truly intended to for better or worse stay loyal to this person they had pledge their life to before God.

* When people would commit themselves to one church (not picking and choosing the best flavors of 2-5 churches) and resolved to walk with that church in times of harvest and despair.  Loyalty says as long as the Gospel is central, my feet are planted here and use my talent’s for the worship and glory of God and the benefit of the local body of Christ.

* When athletes played their whole career with one team and did not choose money over being loyal to the owner who first gave them a chance.  Gone are the days of guys who value team loyalty over free agent gain.  I know this one goes both ways with GM’s choosing to not give players extensions (i.e. Michael Young traded to Philly), but I miss the Cal Ripken, Craig Biggio one team for a career scenarios.

Again, sue me for idealism but we must remember it is in the seasons of discomfort that we grow more than ever.  It is in the seasons of trial that we learn to lean on God.  Loyalty teaches us that problems are not permanent and shows us the blessing of learning to overcome conflict.  Every long term relationship brings with it conflict.  Loyalty stands tall in conflict and seeks resolution for the better of both the institution and the person, but self indulgence runs for greener pastures when times get uncomfortable.  How do I know this?  I am guilty of being a runner and if you are honest maybe you have been too.

Let’s recapture the concept of loyalty.  Loyalty is synonymous with the words allegiance, fidelity, faithfulness and devotion.   What have you been loyal to? Your selfish desires? The chase for greener pastures?  More than any organization I hope you know the biggest loyalty you must possess is a devotion to Jesus.  Dig in, stand up, stay strong, refuse to let your mind wander in what ifs and greener pastures.  Be willing to stay true to what matters and not chase selfish desires.

Pack your bags?

So today we find ourselves on the other side of another election. Not sure if you heard, but Barack Obama has been re-elected for a second term as President of the United States of America. Of course I am being snarky, you cannot sign on Facebook or Twitter without encountering one of two people: The sky is falling conservative or the gloating democrat. I want to speak to my conservative voting friends.

The one thing we must remember in all of this is that our God was not surprised that Obama was re-elected last night. He knew this would happen. The second thing we must remember is that God’s plan is sovereign. His plan will ultimately be carried out no matter who leads us the next four years. In the end, God and his precepts win the battle.

I am reminded of the prophecy God speaks through Isaiah in Isaiah 45. God calls King Cyrus (a man who would not rule until 200 years after this prophecy was recorded) his anointed one. God says that he will use Cyrus to rescue His people, give Him great power and work out his redemption plan through Him. In Daniel 5, we see that King Cyrus does bring freedom to God’s people and orders the rebuilding of the temple. All of this accomplished by a man that Isaiah 45 mentions did not even know the true God. He was not a follower of God, nor did he know that the God of Israel truly existed. God used a pagan, to carry out His sovereign plan and prophesied it 200 years in advance.

Here is the lesson… God can use anyone to carry out His plan. The sky is not falling, unpack your bags and cancel your ticket to Canada. The fact that Obama has been re-elected, no matter of your opinion of the man, does not mean we are doomed. The God who used a pagan king to bring freedom to His people is still on His throne. The God who will cause all knees to bow one day still has his ultimate plan in place. I am not saying that Obama is Cyrus, or will accomplish what Cyrus did, but I am saying that same God has his amazing plan in place that has not been altered by this election.

Pray for Barack Obama, he is our leader and continues in a role full of stresses and expectations. He is our earthly leader, but our Heavenly leader is serving a full eternity term.

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”- Romans 13:1 (ESV)

Just need to add this as a P.S. The answer for the ills of our country cannot and will not be solved by a politician but by people humbling themselves, praying and seeking to live within the sovereign plan of God. When we get serious about God, then we can find healing.

“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Happy Missional Halloween!

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(Rylie dressed as Merida holding her invite cards)

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it looks like to be missional in the midst of my everyday life.  Asking myself the question of how I can reach more people for Jesus by investing myself in my community.  In this vain as I considered Halloween and the normal response of the church I wondered if maybe somewhere along the way we had missed the boat.

My daughter Rylie’s children’s choir had been cancelled since Halloween fell on Wednesday and as Minister to Students at my church Southmont Baptist Church (www.southmont.org) I was given the choice on whether to meet on Halloween or cancel.  I made the decision to cancel honestly because I did not know how many students would show up to church that night and selfishly I wanted to spend time with Rylie and Macee and take them trick or treating.  A few days after the decision though God began to move in me a deeper reason.  What if Halloween, often the most frowned upon holiday by the Christian faith, was actually the best opportunity to reach our neighbors?

There are few times if any in a year (outside of Halloween) that neighbors invite each other to knock on their door and have conversation.  The typical response has always been as the church to do an alternative, safe activity… mine included.  We had our fall festival on Sunday this year previous to Halloween.  We invite the masses to enter our territory without ever engaging them in their world.

The people who needed to be reached might have come to the trunk or treat or to the fall festival, but the ones God laid on my heart were the ones opening their doors to hand out candy, drinking a beer with a neighbor or seeking to scare a kid into tears.  Real people who may never feel a comfort level to set foot on a church property.

I discussed my heart with my seven year old daughter Rylie and she agreed that we should pass out cards and invite those who gave us candy to join us for church on Sunday.  We both wanted to use this day for more than the accumulation of ammunition for future teeth rotting.  I knew Rylie would be on board because her heart for people and the gospel is extremely soft, but I did not know the level of boldness my daughter would show as she invited family after family to visit our church.  She did not hesitate a second, often waiting as the person read it and even reading it to one family.  She reached out to people with compassion, joy and fearlessness.

Last night on the most missional day of the year my daughter set an example for all believers and most of all for her pastor dad of what it means to make the most of every opportunity and to extend the hand of Jesus to your neighbors. When I told her I was proud and saw in her the heart to be a missionary one day, she corrected me and said,” Daddy, I am a missionary right now.” Another lesson learned from a seven year old.

What if our Christian events and formulating a Christian version of every aspect of our lives has distanced us from our neighbors and led us on a path of missed opportunities?  It is a question worth asking.  All I know is I sit humbled today by a little girl who was more concerned that every card was passed out than if her candy bucket was full.  These cards opened up multiple conversations.  While it is still called today look for your opportunity to love people well.

As I read through the Old Testament with the guys in my accountability small group I have been captured by the numerous times that the writers refer to God’s steadfast love. More than just the term steadfast love, I have been moved by a song or a declaration that has been repeated over and over as I have read through Psalms, Ezra, Jeremiah and Chronicles.

We see this song/saying quoted in 2 Chronicles 5:13, ” For He is good, for His steadfast love endures for ever.” It was sang by the Levitical singers, it was prayed by Solomon and declared by David, other Psalmists, and even the Lord himself in His promise for peace for the house of Judah and Israel to Jeremiah. This is a song that has been the declaration of the church from old testament times to today.

Declare his goodness today! Thank Him for his steadfast love in this very moment! To be steadfast is to be firm, stable and constant. In a world where people fall in and out of love, where love is given and withheld based on performance and hinges on a “what have you done for me lately” mentality; God’s love for you has been unwavering. It is time for us to declare this song. God you are good and your steadfast love endures forever.

Maybe you find yourself in the depths of despair, pain or hurt. Remember the only one whose love for you has remained steadfast. Declare His goodness in the midst of the storm. In 1 Peter 2:9 we see that we belong to God for the purpose proclaiming His excellencies. Our identity is found in the declaring of this great song of the church. Church warm up your vocal chords, it is time to sing the song of the redeemed.

“Our God is good, His steadfast love endures forever.”

Scriptures

* All of these talk about God’s Steadfast Love (This list is a work in progress)

1 Chronicles 16:34,41

2 Chronicles 5:13

2 Chronicles 7:3

2 Chronicles 20:21

Ezra 3:11

Psalm 57:10

Psalm 59

Psalm 61:7

Psalm 62:12

Psalm 63:3

Psalm 66:20- thanks God for not removing His steadfast love from him.

Psalm 69:13, 16

Psalm 100:5

Psalm 106:1

Psalm 107:1

Psalm 118:29

Psalm 136: 1-2

Jeremiah 33:11

My Mamaw

On August 28th, 2012 my MaMaw passed away in Victoria, Texas.  I wanted to share here, what I shared at her funeral about the legacy she left.  Here is a link to her obituary–> CLICK HERE

From her funeral on 8/31/2012…

“In track and field we celebrate those who run a good race. We celebrate those who cross the finish line.

Multiple times in scripture we find our lives compared to a race.  We find that our purpose on earth as God’s people is to proclaim His praises and press on toward the goal of becoming more like Jesus.

Paul said in Philippians 3:12-14
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Today we celebrate a woman who ran the race well. Who lived her life as one who wanted to please God and love people.

Many of you know her as Hazel, but I called her Ma Maw.

Mamaw was the definition of love because she was patient and kind.

1 Corinthians 13- 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails

Mamaw always sought to point out the best in people and never sought to illuminate their flaws.

Mamaw was a great listener

Mamaw was one of the most encouraging people in my life. She always supported the things I wanted to accomplish even my keyboard rap songs, my books and my ministry.  She even told me my rap songs were good… SHE LIED !

Mamaw was an artist. She would take my baseball card magazines and recreate the drawings to make me shirts.

Mamaw was a great cook. Pecan Pie. Egg Noodles. Poached Eggs and adding extra cheese to cheap totinos pizzas were some of my favorites.

Mamaw was a servant. She spent her life walking side by side with PawPaw, loving her family and making sacrifices all along the way.

I am going to close with my favorite Mamaw story. Many times as I was in high school my Mamaw would look at my hair and ask me, “Is your hair getting wavy?”.  That was always a hard question for me to answer.  She would preceed to say,” I am just asking because Donald’s hair was wavy and then it fell out.”  Donald is my father for those who do not know, my bald father.  Was MaMaw saying that my wavy hair was a sign of future baldness?  Turns out that my MaMaw was a profit.  This is the one time I remember my MaMaw not encouraging me :)

Today if Mamaw was here she would be able to say this verse with confidence.

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Let us celebrate the life of Hazel Halk who ran her race well and crossed the finish line a winner because of her relationship with Jesus Christ.

Praise be to God for Hazel Ruth Jones Halk.

Darrell Day Reflections

* from 2011

Well as many of you already realize, yesterday was a new national holiday called Darrell day, August 31st, the day I entered the world.  This was the 34th annual Darrell day celebration and tons of rootbeer, burritos and celebrations were had by all.  I had a great day filled with things that characterize the joys that are a part of my everyday life: My girls (Tiffany, Rylie, Macee), friends, Chuy’s Mexican food, rootbeer(thanks for the rootbeer Sterling and Brittney), the students of Southmont Baptist Church and preaching.  All of these are things I love dearly, not to mention being humbled by the 250 plus people who took the time to say happy birthday to me via text and Facebook.  I feel very blessed to be  a part of the life that God has given me.

It is milestones like birthdays that cause us to reflect, and cause us to count our blessings.  As I look back over this last year of my life I realize I have experienced so many incredible blessings.  There have been ups and downs, but God has been faithful to teach me the lesson of contentment.

Philippians 4:11-13 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

I wanted to end this post with ten photos that speak to God’s faithfulness to bless me this year.

TOP TEN HIGHLIGHTS OF MY 33RD YEAR (No Particular Order)

1.) The Birth of my daughter Macee- We were told that it was a great possibility that we could not have any other children, but on January 13,2011, this beautiful little girl entered the world.

2.) God opened the door for one of the greatest dreams of my life to be fulfilled when my first book “No One Really Knows” was published by Lucid Books in February 2011. www.norkbook.com

3.) Southmont Youth Group- I have seen God do amazing things in the lives of these kids this year and I feel so blessed to be their youth pastor and call them my kids.

4.) Met one of my childhood heroes and got to sit down and hang out with him for 30 minutes: Spud Webb5.) Got asked by my friend, former Major League Baseball All-Star, Glenn Wilson, to co-author his biography with him.

6.) Got to watch my daughter Rylie cheer at Upward basketball games

7.) Splurged on the most expensive meal of my life on an awesome date with my wife Tiffany to Pappas Borthers Steakhouse for our anniversary.  We try to go to really nice restaurants in Dallas twice a year for her birthday and our anniversary.

8.) Got the opportunity to join the program staff of Camp 220 and speak at both weeks as a Team Bible Study Leader.  I love this ministry and I am glad I get to be a part of the behind the scenes of all that God is doing. www.twotwenty.org

9.) Got to coach Rylie’s softball team

10.) Saw the Texas Rangers go to the World Series and the Dallas Mavericks win the NBA Championship.  Okay, this does not directly involve me, but it brought me lots of joy to see both of these events happen.

*Honorable Mention: Launched one of the worst webshows in the history of YouTube- Darandumb Moments: http://www.youtube.com/user/durkel777

Suicide in Sports

The news of former Cy Young award winner Mike Flanagan’s death by suicide is still fresh on my mind as the story was released today. He becomes another on the list of athletes from my childhood years who has taken his own life over the last five years. I will post a list at the bottom of this message of those players.

From all reports Flanagan took his life due to being upset about financial concerns.It breaks my heart to see so many who see death as the only option to rid them of their pain. If only we could go back and tell them that there was hope. If only we could go back and tell them that they were loved by their families, friends and fans.

If you are reading this and feel life is hitting nothing but deadends please talk to someone. Seek out help from a trained counselor or local pastor. There is hope, God has placed you here on Earth for a purpose. Jesus came and died to set the captives free and he came that we might have a full and abundant life. He loves you, and His love for you never wavers or changes, no matter how many times you fail.

I have helped a family walk through suicide in the past and I know how tough it can be on families. Pray for the families of those listed below, especially the Flanagan’s as this is so fresh.

Suicides

NBA
Mel Turpin 2010

NFL
Dave Duerson 2011
Kenny McKinley 2010
Shane Dronett 2009
Andre Waters 2006

MLB
Keith Drumright 2010
Brian Powell 2009
Mike Flanagan 2011
Hideki Irabu 2011

National Suicide Hotline 1(800)273-TALK

5 Reasons Why I Love Chuy’s-Denton

Not hard to believe for people that know me that I am here talking about mexican food, but I had to share my new affection for Chuy’s.  So far I have made two trips to this fine establishment since it’s opening on August 2nd.

1.) They Allow Bald Men to Live Their Dream of Having Hair

One “Dare” led to me wearing this wig to my first visit to Chuy’s on their opening day.  The hostess could not bear to look at me without giggling.  I realized this day the extent of discrimination against guys with flowing black hair.

2.) Queso Compuesto


This plus chips= Heaven in a bowl

3.) More Tasty Sauces than Should be Allowed in a Single Restaurant


Boom Boom Sauce, Deluxe Tomatillo, Tomatillo, Jalapeno Cool Ranch, Queso, Salsa… Need I go on?

4.) Tasty Chimichangas and Burritos= 5 Star Restaurant

* Best Chimichanga I have ever had, and I have had quite a few in my time.

5.) They built their Denton location right down the road from my work.

With this restaurant being so close to my church job, I am sure it is going to bad news for the pocket book and the waist line.

All this said…If you have not ever given Chuy’s a chance, stop being dumb.

Asking the Right Question

In the last few weeks I have had more than one person approach me about feeling a lack of passion or dryness in their pursuit of Christ. Many seem to associate Christ with feelings of shame and guilt, so they want to avoid Him all together. So many of us have become so accustomed to living a legalistic, rule based Christianity that when our performance fails we cannot escape the guilt of our failures. Many of the thoughts below came from what God has helped me learn in my journey, what God taught me this Summer in studying to teach Bible Studies for Camp 220, and hearing others teach this summer.

First thing I need to remind you, IF you belong to God, meaning you have a relationship with Him, then Romans 8:1 tells us there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This verse has meant so much to me, because it promises that in the midst of our failures God in his grace and mercy forgets our trespasses against Him. It is almost as if God is telling us I do not condemn you, QUIT CONDEMNING YOURSELF. Quit living a powerless Christianity swallowed up with guilt. When God looks at you as a Christian, he does not see your failures; He sees Christ’s righteousness that has covered you.

Zephaniah 3:12-19 is a beautiful picture of the joy that God finds in who we are. God sees someone worth singing over, he has taken away his judgments over you, he fights for you and he is near to you. God says you are so worth all Jesus did.

So first we must see ourselves in the way that God sees us, but second we must ask the right questions about how to get back the passion and zeal that seems absent. Many times we begin with the question how can I pray more, how can I read the Bible more, or what can I DO to draw closer to God? I believe this is the wrong question to begin our thought process.

1.) The question is not how much am I doing to draw close to Him, it is how much am I letting Him do in me?

Does he have my whole heart?

What things in my life steal my affection for Him?

Am I living out Philippians 3:7 that everything compared to Christ seems like dung, poop, or rubbish? It is not an obedience problem as much as it is a love problem. When Jesus has all of our affections no one has to tell us to pray, or read our Bible, we just desire to do it. The prayer is not God help me increase my Bible study time, but help increase my love for you, help remove the things that steal my affections from you… Come and have my whole heart.

Many of us are like the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2, we are checking off all the duties of a Christian, but we have lost our passion and love for him in the midst of doing things for Him. The question must come what am I letting him do in me?

Have I surrendered my spiritual gifts and passions to be used by him? These gifts are not accidents, but are intended to be used by him for his church. Some of the most excited students in my youth ministry right now are those who have realized their spiritual gifts, asked God to take those gifts and use them and seen God begin to work in them and through them. It is in giving God complete control that our passion and desire to be in word and pray increases.

2.) The next question we must ask is by whose power am I living in? 1 Corinthians 4:20 says the kingdom of God is not in Word but in power. Paul tells the people if he comes he will not judge their closeness to God by what they say, but by the power which they live by.

What are you living in that takes God’s power to complete? Are you living by his power or living in what is comfortable and manageable for you? The reason most Christians never move forward in their walk with Christ is they spend their whole life walking in and praying for things they can accomplish without God.

What are you letting him do in you? Have you been just a follower in words or are you living each breath, each step by his power?

3.) How big is your view of God? What God is able to do in and through us is relative to what we believe he is able to do. So many Christians spend so much time arguing what God can’t or doesn’t do anymore. I am persuaded that if we worship a small God who has a list of things he can’t do and we have a holy spirit who is mute and serves as just a glorified conscience then we limit what God is able to do in us and through us. Check out Mark 9, part of our drawing into a powerful life changing relationship with Christ is admitting the areas of unbelief and saying God help me believe in the depth of your power.

Is your God manageable, understandable and full of things he can’t do or doesn’t do anymore or is he the powerful God of the Bible? Part of letting him do what he wants in us is having an accurate view of Him.

4.) Lastly, we will all spend time in the desert or times of dryness; it is how we navigate through that time that tells if we fully belong to Him. It was in Jesus’ time in the desert (Matt 4) that he was tempted, he responds by clinging to Scripture. In dryness we must cling to the Word, not as a duty but because we need it.

What are you allowing God to do in you?