My blog was infiltrated by an anonymous commenter trying to insult me so I have now changed my settings to only allow comments by registered users. I am not the first to have to do this in the past few weeks. Blogging has been a great way for many of us to connect, reconnect and keep one another updated on what is making us tick. I hate that we have to protect ourselves from critics, cynics and mean people alike.

If you want to comment... register with blogger and start logging in... I know it is an extra step for you livejournal and xanga lovers, but... Ben Spain I did it for you on livejournal.

Anonymous poster. Call me. 419.425.8828. Don't be a wimp.
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A Fatal Shot

I have always been very eccumenical and led that charge wherever I was at, but...

I grew up Nazarene.
I have always been committed to the Nazarene church.
I have always felt obligated to the Nazarene church.
I have always felt I could/would help "change" the Nazarene church.
I have known no other reality that this.

I recently realized that no matter how committed I am to the Nazarene church, it is not committed to me. I have seen a few close "Nazarene" friends rejected, ridiculed and dismissed due to differences that contradicted tradition, but not Scripture.

Tonight James the Nazarene took a fatal shot.
It was a little conversation, with a few eye-opening statements that fired the trigger.
I feel like James the Nazarene is stumbling around right now, but it only a short time before he falls.
I don't know if healing is possible at this point, perhaps survival, but I am not sure about healing.

I have no clue what life will look like when I get back up. I have no clue what kind of impact this will have on the future of my family. I am not saying I am moving or resigning or running. I am just saying I am really broken right now, really stumbling around, really dizzy from it all. Tonight hurt.

I really don't know what all this means for me. It may only look different on the inside for a while, or it may look different on the outside very soon.
All I really know is that James the Nazarene took a fatal shot.
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I Am Least in the Kingdom

The Shema
Deuteronomy 6:4-9
4Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

It is simply worded Scripture. It is clear Scripture. It is spelled out, specific, effective
Scripture. It is a command and charge in Scripture, but I don't see the vast majority of American Christians, following this very basic command. This passage says to me that each Christian parent is called to impress the ways of the Lord on the hearts of their children. We are called to talk about it every chance we get, surround our kids in it and bathe them in the Word. I think we often dismiss it because we throw it out with the rest of the "law", but I think the results we are now experiencing in America is confirmation that we have been wrong in doing this. Very wrong.

Jesus' words:
Matthew 5:17-20
17"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."

Am I on track to be called least in the kingdom of heaven, because I am teaching/enabling parents to continue to abdicate their role as Spiritual Head in the life of the children?

Can I change the way we do things and use my role to establish those kinds of relationships in the families of our church?

This is my quest right now. I am not comfortable being the spiritual head for all of these teens, or training other adult/student leaders to. I feel Scripture is pretty clear that this role belongs to their parents. Just because the parents have handed me the batton, it doesn't mean I can't hand it back to them.

Thoughts anyone?

A Little Stat = A does of reality:
How many "regular youth group attendees" stayed in church after high school?
Best Statistics say18%
Worst Statistics say: 8%
The system seems broken to me...
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One Family

It is only one family, but it is tearing me up.

I found out this afternoon that a family from our church has essentially left our church primarily because of my ministry. They have been gone two weeks "church shopping" for a youth group where their daughter "fits in" better. This is the first time I have ever known what this feels like. I have had a family consider this once before, but I had the opportunity to talk to them and explain about how the body of Christ has a responsibility to work through issues rather than run from them, which is what we then did. This time it was just like, BAM... they were gone. They didn't even mention one sniff of it to me or P. Mike.

The thing is... they say it isn't about me. They like me. They have told me they love when I preach. They enjoy my company. I even exchanged e-mails with the mom last week where she thanked me for my ministry and concern for the youth of this community.

It isn't me. It is my kids. They say that the kids who come to our youth group are the "scary kids" from Findlay High School and their daughter doesn't fit in with them. The "scary kids".

I didn't have the eyes to see "scary kids" when I was in high school, because my parents never let me. My parents blessed me with eyes of equality. I didn't think someone was too wierd, too smelly, too loud, too quiet, too black or too Amish. Don't get me wrong. I didn't like some people, I was mean at times, but overall I had eyes of equality. I couldn't see "scary kids", because to me they were normal kids.

I have seen this over and over here though. This is probably the 6th or 7th family who has commented on our scary kids. My scary kids don't do drugs, they don't start fights, they don't have sex in the youth room. You know what makes them scary? They dress in black a lot and they are poor. As far as poor goes... I mean middle to lower-middle class. Now, no one will admit this is a factor, but it is clearly a factor, but class is clearly a factor. We have some amazing kids in our youth group, with a heart for God, who don't have the right "look", who are grouped right in there with the others. As far as the clothing... I am not talking chains, piercings, black make-up and tatooes either (well, maybe a chain on a special occasion). I am talking about black jeans and a hoodie. Are they easy to talk to? No. Are they bubbling with holy joy? No. Are they calm, quiet and attentive? No. But neither are my preppy kids. In fact, if anyone is doing drugs (marijuana) and pushing the limits our parent's are fearful of, it is probably some of the preppy kids. In fact, it is some of the preppy kids.

Here is the thing. The preppy kids are the scary kids to the dark kids, because they are unapproachable, because they generally do avoid them, because they are the "cool" kids at school. I walked into the "scary kids" small group four weeks ago because there were a lot of them there and I was going to split their group for the night. In one voice the shouted (behind a closed door) "Rejects Unite!" "Don't split the rejects." "Don't split the rejects." "Don't split the rejects." They were laughing the whole time and I came back with "you guys aren't rejects". One of them responded, "James, yes we are. Do you see anyone talking to us? We are the rejects and we are proud. At least we know who we are."

I just don't understand. Am I supposed to reject those kids, just like everyone else does, so that our youth group is more comfortable, smooth and clean?

I don't want to.
I can't.
I won't.

It is only one family, but it is tearing me up.

---------------------------------To anyone from My Church--------------------------
I don't know if anyone from my church reads this to be honest. I have battled with whether or not to post this, but there are tears in my eyes and I feel compelled to be honest with my friends who I know commune with me on here. So, if you are from the church. Call me. Don't run and tell someone else about this or report me to the pastor. These are my feelings and if you found this blog somehow, somewhere on-line, respect what it is... a letter to my close friends, sharing my blunt feelings. If you want to talk, I want to talk to you.
Thanks for honoring that.
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