Sunday, August 23, 2009

Consistent Positive Pressure

This summer Pete and I went to visit a 13 year old young man in the hospital who had been shot in the stomach during a drive-by shooting. The gang violence this spring and summer has been challenging throughout Chicago. It is one of the unfortunate realities of both our neighborhood and our city. There is an epidemic of hurting young people who are hurting other young people. In communities where gangs are prevalent, as Pastor Phil Jackson puts it, “hopelessness and resiliency co-exist.” In other words, “the future looks grim, but I am going to be strong in the midst of this hopelessness.” Too many young people have been either directly or indirectly affected by violence. Too many young people have lost family members and friends to gun violence, some have even witnessed it. Young people are hurting, they are looking for direction, and they are looking for a place to belong. I recently heard Pastor Wayne “Coach” Gordon quote notorious former gang leader Jeff Fort saying, “We (the gangs) will always have the youth because we make them feel important.” That is a profound and troubling statement. Those are challenging words for those of us doing youth ministry in the city. Those are challenging words to the Church! Phil Jackson said this, “the only way you can really change it (the challenge with urban youth) is through consistent positive pressure for a long period of time.” We, the body of Christ, must give our lives to applying this “consistent positive pressure.” It will take much prayer. It will take intentionally investing our lives into the lives of young people. It will be hard. It will be messy. It will be worth it.

During our recent Montana visit I was reminded of 1 Thessalonians 2:8. It reads, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” Paul was saying that he not only shared the message of the hope of Christ, but through relationships and doing life together, he shared the love of Christ in tangible ways. Pastor Danny Lopez recently shared that one of the best practices for youth ministry is this, “practice loving God, then practice loving kids with the love of God, and watch God do a miracle.” Whether you live in Chicago, or Paw Paw, or Bozeman, or Mamelodi, or anywhere in between, let’s give our lives to Christ-exalting life on life ministry!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Running For The Youth

Believe it or not, on Sunday September 13th I will be running in the Chicago Half Marathon on behalf of Sunshine Gospel Ministries. Specifically, I am seeking to raise money for our Youth Outreach Programs.

I am looking for people to sponsor me. If you are interested, you can either sponsor me per mile (it is a 13 mile race), or you can simply donate a specified amount. Lord willing, I will finish all 13 miles!

To donate, visit our web site at Click on the “donate” link on the left margin. Please make sure that you specify “Clark - Half Marathon” on your donation. If you prefer to send in a check, you can make it out to Sunshine Gospel Ministries. On the memo line write “Clark - Half Marathon.” You can mail your check to:
Sunshine Gospel Ministries
P.O. Box 377939
Chicago IL 60637.
*If you need a receipt/tear off portion to send with the check, I can email one to you.

As the race draws closer, I will try to give you "training updates."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Montana Quotes

During our time in Montana, I had the privilege of staying with Dave and Sarah LeVea. One of the highlights of our time with them was our nightly gathering around the kitchen table. On our first evening there, Dave introduced the "quote of the day" journal. Each night he would ask us for the quotes of the day from whatever adventure we had been on that particular day. I thought I would share some of them...

On Monday, when Dave let Baby T borrow his study Bible, Baby T thumbed through the pages and smelled the Bible and then exclaimed, "it just feels Holy, Ahhhhhhh!"

On Tuesday night during the devotional session, Pastor BJ stated, "you never know when God will call you out of the pool."

On Wednesday, at the half way point of the fishing trip, when asked how many fish I had caught...I responded "our boat has 2 fish." I was attempting to hide the fact that I once again hadn't caught any fish!

On Friday as a storm was moving near, Devonta said, "I saw thunder."

During the Sunday morning service, Pastor Aaron Roy stated, "God doesn't take kindly to hustlers."

Finally, the guys and I throughout the week began to notice a common trend among men and women who have lived in Montana for a number of years. They all have PHENOMENAL calves, or as we call them "Montana Calves." You will notice the picture of the sample Montana Calves!:)