Invest Early

Posted: March 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

Investments are a funny thing. Especially with the state of our financial world today. But when you invest in something that does well, the earlier you get in the better the reward. With that in mind I will say this. Invest in people. Early. Really early.

The biggest impact we’ve had on our lives if most of us will look back is when people took time to actually INVEST in us. I think back over my life and see the impact people had on me. The time my PE teacher pulled me aside after class. The night my chaplain at college called me out. The pastors that have taken time to help me in ministry. Time after time and over and over and over people invested in my life. Those investments have paid off in a lot of ways.

Investment in people was Jesus’ way. Think about it. The disciples. Nicodemus. Zacchaeus. The woman at the well. Mary Magdalene. The sick. The hurting. The outcasts.  I mean we read the stories of the thousands of people he spoke to and all the crowds, but don’t let the individual investments get lost in the stories of the crowds.

Make an invest in people. Your family. Your staff. Your students. Your friends. Your neighbor. Your world. So, find somebody to invest in to. It’s something the will not let you down.

As a side note… we invest Jesus into our boys as much as possible. This morning I had Jesus Culture playing in the truck on the way to school and turned to see my 5 year old Hunter in a pure moment of worship. INVESTMENT IN YOUR KIDS SPIRITUAL WALK WILL PAY OFF… SO INVEST EARLY!

Father’s Day Friday

Posted: March 25, 2011 in Fathering

Just a heads up this is a longer post than normal because it’s a very personal issue for me and not one I can easily trim down. This post is geared towards males but if your a female you can still read. : )

This will be a continuing theme for my blog… My intention is to at least once a week make a post with a reference to fathering. This has become one of the biggest callings in my life and for my personal ministry. I am not referring to being a father to my two boys although I know that’s my greatest calling in life and may get tied into post’s similar to this one. The “fathering” I am referring to about being “father” to those that don’t have a person in their life they see as a father.

There’s a difference between father and dad. Dad’s make babies… Father’s raise children. I am a student pastor. I deal with young people ranging from middle school to college age and beyond. I am a pastor, mentor, friend, basketball coach, ride home, McDouble buyer etc… my day to day job is young people. I deal with all kinds… Athletes. Musicians. Poor. Rich. Black. White. Hispanic. Younger. Older. Broken Homes. Good Homes. Blended Families. “Normal” families. No families. If you’d spend a week with me you would meet all kinds of student from all walks of life. I have found that no matter what economic status, color, interests, group, or whatever these young people are or who they associate with one of the biggest problems facing young people today is the lack of true fathers. Don’t get me wrong I am 100% for mother’s and think they are amazing people and very needed, in fact most of who I am today was because of my mom, but there’s something about a father.

FATHER for so many young people is a foreign word. Divorce. Losers. Death. Misplaced Priorities. Deadbeats. Workaholics. Cowards. Addicts. Situations Beyond Anyone’s Control. These are just some of the reasons for young people to not have fathers in their lives and the list could go on and on. It’s a epidemic that is running rampant through our society and my fear is that unless something is done to break the cycle the problem will only continue to grow and the effects will become more severe. That’s why this issue of fathering has become such major priority to me.

I remember like it was last night the first time God prompted me with the burden of being this type of father. It was a night in September of 2006 I had been on staff at our church for a little over a month and we had Jason Upton in for a night of worship. At some point in the night I found myself face down in the carpet completely lost in a pretty intense moment with God. He spoke to me as clear as I’ve ever heard Him. He told me I was to be a father for the fatherless students and immediately begin to flash images of young people that I knew without fathers in their lives. I saw their faces as clear as looking at a picture. It was a moment that shaped my whole life.

At first, this was like a Moses at the burning bush moment for me. When God told Moses he was going to send him to free the Israelite’s Moses asked God to send somebody else because he felt unqualified. I mean I didn’t know the first thing about being a father. My first son at the time was only 6 months old and a first time dad with a 6 month old is still completely clueless as to what he’s doing. I was raised by a single mom without a dad at home. How was I supposed to know how in the world to be a “father” to these teenagers I was seeing before my face. But like Moses I simply said “Yes” to what God was telling me and began to walk it out and He did the rest.

From that point forward to this day, without pursuit of any title on my part, I have had student after student refer to me as “dad.” Here’s the challenge. WE NEED FATHERS. As I said earlier I grew up without a dad in my house, but God placed men in my life that helped to father me. I really didn’t even realize it until the last couple years as I looked back over my life with this mentality of a father in mind. It wasn’t that they sought to be a father for me but it was men that simply took an interest in the life of Jon Rearden. Was it inconvenient at times? Probably. Did it require some effort? Yea. Was it intentional on their? Maybe … Maybe not. Was it beneficial? Absolutely.

Whether you’re a youth pastor, a teacher, a business man, a janitor, a sunday school teacher,  security officer on a school campus, or whatever you do you can be a father to somebody that needs it. What it requires is you simply take a look around and begin to take an interest in this next generation. Will it take time to build trust? YES! (lots of time… years in a lot of cases) Will you have all the answers? No. Will you always know what to do? No. Will it cost you something? Of course. (Time, Some Convience, and $$$ at McDonalds) But will it be worth it? NO DOUBT.

Burn Baby, Burn!

Posted: March 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

We’ve been in a series in 68 called “Flannel Board Stories” we’ve basically been looking at good ole Sunday school stories we use to learn about from the flannel board and getting deeper application from them. We looked at the Jonah, Daniel and the lions den, and this week is Moses and the burning bush from Exodus 3: 1-12.

I love this story, there’s so many great ways to learn from it. Like… God interrupting Moses’ normal everyday activity. The bush burning but not being consumed. Moses returning to that very same mountain to worship after they were free. So many lessons and ways to look at this story. What I love more than anything is that Moses had an encounter with God and left not only changed but ready to bring change.

How many times have we had this amazing encounter with God but left just doing the same thing we did before the encounter? I mean maybe we’ve never seen a tree on fire and had God talk to us from that tree but certainly we as Chrsitians have been in services, car rides, in our bedroom alone with Him and thought “Wow. I just really had a moment with God.” but then left and really didn’t do much with it. Not Moses. He had encounter with God, he left what He was doing, obeyed God, and freed God’s people.

We may not feel like we can be Moses, or that we know a people in slavery crying out to God like the Israelite’s were. However, if you’ll just take a minute to look around there’s hurting people everywhere that need somebody to reach out to them. And the “ch. 3 & 4 Moses” didn’t feel like the “ch. 14 parting of the Red Sea Moses” either. He felt unqualified and unprepared. In the short time He met with God in chapters 3 & 4 he said, “Who am I to do this?” “What should I say?” “Why should they listen?” “What if they don’t believe or listen?” “Please send somebody else.” Does this sound like the Moses that parted the red sea to you? Right then and there he wasn’t the “powerful white bearded staff wielding Moses” we envision but God equipped Him along the way. He had to leave His encounter with God and do something different than he had ever done before because there were people that need rescued.

Let’s not have the highlight of our walk with God be the time when we saw the bush burn and heard His voice. Let the highlight been what we’ve done with The Voice we heard. This week I am challenging middle school students to not just have week to week encounters with God and then not do anything with those encounters. I am issuing a challenge for them to be a Moses (the deliver) on their campus, in the neighborhood, in their world.

Ask yourself where you can be Moses? Ask yourself who are the people you encounter that need rescued? Look around your world and see who is looking for an answer to their pain.  Maybe you don’t feel qualified. Maybe you don’t have all the answers. Maybe people will question you… but people still need rescued. What you have to do is what Moses did, just be willing to take the first step and trust that God will provide you with everything you need.

Carry the Cross

Posted: March 12, 2010 in Uncategorized
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“There is only one path  One way — the cross is at the beginning, and the end, and all along the way. You must carry the cross you picked up at the start.” -Arthur Blessitt

Once again the cross has consumed my thoughts today. I am convinced more than ever that if we as the church get a proper view of the cross of it’s place and power in our lives than much that is wrong will be righted. Because of the cross our sins are forgiven. Because of the cross we have healing. Because the cross we get to experience God’s presence. Because of the cross we are free. We could talk all day about what the the cross brings to the table but the truth is that we need to start to walk in the power of the cross.

In order to walk in it’s power we must carry it with us everyday. You see we can’t except the cross at the altar or wherever and leave it there. That’s why Jesus said to take it up and carry it everyday. I’ll never forget March 15, 2003 it was the day I married my wife and started my life with her. We exchanged vows at a beautiful chapel in nashville. We had bagpipes, a huge pipe organ, flowers, candles, tears, our family and friends were all there… it was the best wedding I’ve ever been to. 🙂 But if I had been through all that and left what I did at that altar that day and didn’t take her with me… didn’t take marriage with me, my marriage and all the great things it has brought to my left would cease to exist.

It’s no different with us and the cross. We can’t accept the cross for our salvation but not carry it with us as a way of life. I mean after all we are the bride of Christ. Today walk with the cross. Take it with you where ever you go. It will make you talk different. It will make you think different. It will make you see people differently. It make you worship differently this weekend at church. It will make you pray differently. Embrace the cross not just as a momentary thing, but as a way of life.

So the cross not only brings Christ’s life to an end, it ends also the first life, the old life, of every one of His true followers. It destroys the old pattern, the Adam pattern, in the believer’s life, and brings it to an end. Then the God who raised Christ from the dead raises the believer and a new life begins. -A.W. Tozer

Keep Hope Alive!

Posted: March 11, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Hope.

It’s a funny word. You either have it or you don’t. Not much middle ground with hope. Not really a “kinda” when it comes to hope. It’s like a candle in the dark at midnight of a new moon and the power goes out… No light anywhere but you still have the candle. Even if you only have a little bit than you still have it. Hope is power. Hope is light. Hope is faith. Hope is future. Hope is everything. With it anything is possible… without it all “seems” lost.

Last night in 68 I preach out of John 5:1-15 about the lame man at the pool of bethesda. With the exception Martha telling Jesus “hey thanks for nothing” when he arrived after Lazarus died, I can’t think of a time when somebody was around Jesus but yet still so hopeless. The man didn’t know who Jesus was, all he knew is that he had been sick for 38yrs and even though he tried everybody else beat him to the pool when the angel stirred the water. So, when Jesus asked “Would you like to get well?” the only thing the man could answer was “I can’t” followed by “i try but everyone gets there first.” All hope for this guy was lost. I mean somebody asked him if he wanted to get better and he couldn’t even answer “yes” just “I can’t. The guy was pretty bad off in the hope department, because he didn’t know who he was talking to.

He was talking to the very one that was the hope for all mankind. The One who’s whole purpose in coming to earth was to bring hope. The One that Paul on several occasions would call “Our Hope.” I mean who brings more hope than Jesus? And here this sick man is talking to the Hope of Glory and all he can say is “I Can’t.” Hopeless is a sad place to be, but the good news is Jesus did come and He brought hope along for the ride. The very next verse after the man says “I can’t” Jesus said “Get up…” and he did.

Don’t lose hope today. No matter how long you’ve been fighting… keep fighting. No matter how bad off everything looks… hold on to hope. Whatever you are facing… face it with hope. Keep hope alive. The worse part about the man wasn’t that he was sick it was that he had lost hope. Don’t lose hope. There are worse things than facing what your facing, it’s facing that thing without hope.

Here’s some scripture on hope if you’re running low today…

1 Corinthians 15:58, Colossians 1:27, Psalm 31:24, Hebrews 10:23, 1 Peter 1:3-5, Psalm 25:21

At the Cross

Posted: March 10, 2010 in Uncategorized
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“The same cross that saves us, is the cross that slays us.” -A.W. Tozer

I’ve been taken today and for sometime by a “holy fascination” (for lack of a better term) with the cross. At first read I know this may seem elementary, simplistic, and ordinary but it’s actually the furthest thing from any of that. Think about it. The entirety of the bible, as wonderfully complex as it is, is ultimately about one thing… the cross. Without IT we’re still really on the outs with God. The veil still separates us from Him. We’re still sacrificing sheep, oxen, calves, etc to be forgiven of our sins. We’re still not having that close intimate relationship with God. The priests still are the only ones in His presence after they go through all they had to go through to get there. But the cross changed it all.

That’s why it’s so important that we not forget the cross. We can’t forget it’s power. We can’t forget the sacrifice made upon it. We cannot forget even the smallest detail about it. It’s easy to take the cross for granted. It’s around our necks, it’s on our cars, on our shirts, tattooed on our arms (guilty as charged), it’s on our bible covers, it’s on our signs and churches. It’s everywhere we turn but is it really everywhere we go? We can’t just accept the cross at salvation and then choose not die on it everyday. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:31 that he died everyday, and he wrote half of the new testament. Jesus said in Mark 8:34-35 that if we want to follow Him we must take up our cross, deny ourselves, and go after Him. Think about what it means for you to die on the cross today and how you are going to do it. I’ll finish this post how I started with the words of A.W. Tozer.

“The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.”

It’s Private… Kinda.

Posted: March 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

So, as I was riding around today in my truck, which has no radio, I had my iPhone and earbuds working like a champ listening a podcast from theRAMP. The sermon was on Gideon and the main crux of the message for me was about the effect of our private time on our public life. We always see the public lives of people but rarely, if ever, do we know the private lives of anyone but ourselves and hopefully our spouses, and sadly even that is up to question in a lot of relationships. The public life is what we see but the private life is what is most telling.

What’s scary for some and a comfort of others is that the private life will always at some point come to public light. Think about it? What made David the one chosen above his way more qualified brothers? He was seemingly so unqualified to be a king that his own family didn’t even think it necessary he be there when the future king was anointed, but in his private life he had something going on with God. How about Mary? Just a young girl nobody knew but the angel said “You are highly favored. The Lord is with you!’ How about John the Baptist? His father was a priest. A priest was one of the highest public offices any Jew could have, and because of the levitical order John was next in line for that public office. Instead, he chose the private life of the wilderness to get ready to prepare the way for Jesus.

We’ve seen the list of public figures who’s private lives have been shown to haunt them. No need to type it out you probably know it better than me. Pastors, athletes, polictians, musicians, hollywood, normal people, etc all have fallen victim to a private life that is not what it should be. As I was listening to this podcast today Damon Thompson said this and it’s stuck with me and changed me… “It’s private obedience that leads to public victory.”

So, the question is… what needs to change for you privately? I know what God dealt with me about but what is it for you? Not only what but how? How do you make the change? No matter what no matter how… make the change today.