Context is everything.

I love how weird some Bible verses are out of context, so I'm way into Dan Kimball's "Wednesday Weird Bible Verse" blog series.

Personally, two of my favorites are found in the book of Micah. I used to tell people that my "life verse" was Micah 1:8b ["I will walk around barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and moan like an owl."] and 4:10 became a joke the summer I worked as Wilderness Programmer for a camp ["Writhe in agony, Daughter Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you must leave the city to camp in the open field."]

While they're pretty great out of context, there's more to the story. I can sit and laugh about the verses out of context, but at their roots, there's a story of pain, of disconnect, of a people longing for the love of their God and a God longing for communion with His people. Everything looks different on the surface.

The same is true with people, with life. Things can look one way on the surface, but at their roots, there's a whole different story. Let's commit to going deeper in 2012- both in our relationships and our understanding of the world around us. There's always more to the story.


An unintentional review of Bethel College's Youth Ministry program

I just got around to reading the Bethel College alumni newsletter and was pleasantly surprised to see an interview with a fellow youth ministry major and former classmate of mine. After serving in vocational ministry for a year and a half, Kelsey and David are now active in a grassroots kite boarding ministry that came out of Kelsey's interest in the sport.

Looking at the ministry majors I graduated with [I'm counting the class ahead of mine and behind mine because we were all together at some point], we've got people all across the map- teachers [both in the states and globally], youth pastors, interior designers, associate pastors, kite boarders, counselors, children's pastors, public speakers, hair stylists, nurses, some incredibly creative stay-at-home moms, camping ministry folks, and on and on and on... and everyone is putting his or her degree to good use.

One of my favorite quotes [that you've probably seen here before] comes from St. Francis of Assisi: "Always preach the gospel. If necessary, use words." The youth ministry majors and alumni of Bethel College are living out the gospel in all corners of the earth, and it's a testament to how adaptable our education is. Our class load contained leadership and administration, effective teaching, counseling teens in crisis, disciple-making, evangelism, multicultural youth ministry, theology- we were given the tools needed to go and do [see Matt. 28:18-20], wherever "go" and whatever "do" meant. We all had the same training, yet I'm not sure any of our ministries look similar. It's a testament to the diversity of the program and the needs in the body of Christ that all of these ministries are thriving.

I'm proud to be a part of the Bethel Youth Ministry Alumni, and I'm happy to point anyone interested in ministry towards their program not because of alumni pride, but because what I'm able to do as a result of my time there. For more info on the program, check out the Bethel Youth Ministry's program overview or talk to this guy [Tom went through the program and can tell you all about it].


A Catalyst for Community [and a few adventures]

Over Christmas, I flew down to south Louisiana to spend some time with Cade's family. Everywhere we went, the first question asked was, "What'd you eat so far?" Not "where have you gone? what'd you see?" but, "What meals have you had?" In the short time I was there, it became very apparent that food is a huge part of the culture. When you want to sit down and have a conversation with someone, it's over a plate of food. It's a little different from what I'm used to [coffee/tea and a chat], but it kept bringing me back to scripture and the idea of breaking bread together.
"Day after day they met together in the temple. They broke bread together in different homes and shared their food happily and freely, while praising God. Everyone liked them, and each day the Lord added to their group others who were being saved." -Acts 2:46-47
There's something special about having meals together. Not only are you filled physically, but you connect on an emotional level as well. You're able to laugh together, to share life together, and that does something for your spirit.

I've given myself a goal this year of learning how to cook so that I can become a catalyst for moments like these. I'm blogging that adventure over here, which will be pretty interesting, given that I'm figuring everything out on my own. An example of what to expect? Right before Christmas, I had a recipe that required 4 room temperature eggs. I didn't realize that until I was getting everything together, so I had to think fast, and I ended up sticking the eggs in my pockets while I started the cooking process. Like I said, it'll certainly be an adventure, but it should be fun.

Hope you're all having a great start to the New Year. And, for those of you who are afraid the Mayans might be right about 2012, just remember- if they could really predict the future, there'd still be Mayans ;)