Feb 24

God’s Spirit Beckons

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I had the opportunity to preach again on Sunday morning this past weekend at the traditional service at Lenape Valley Church. If you are interested in having a listen I uploaded the audio here as well. I am always open to any comments! Hope you get a little something out of it.

God’s Spirit Beckons – Sermon at LVC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Important!

Romans 8:9-21

9-11 But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

18-21 That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

Jan 20

Dump-Truck Theology

Dump-TruckHave you ever been cut off by a big dump-truck, cement mixer or 18-wheeler? You know that feeling. First think that goes through your head is usually not very church or youth group appropriate, and the second is, “I had somewhere to be and all you are going to do is slow me down!” I know the feeling. I was on my way to Panera this morning to meet with a couple of students on their day off from school and had that exact problem. I was running a little later than I wanted to and was driving down the 202 expressway when out of my rear view mirror, I see this dump truck speeding along behind me. I am pulling up to a traffic light with a decent line of cars and the traffic light had just turned green. I thought, awesome, I won’t have to wait for the light and we can just go on through. But there was one small, well rather large problem: the dump-truck.

At most traffic lights on the expressway, one lane of traffic is divided into two so people can turn right without having to wait, but it’s not a turn only lane, it’s one of those lanes that goes all the way through the intersection. At the moment there wasn’t anyone in that lane because no one wants to be ‘that guy’ and use it to pass people just for the sake of being in the lead. The dump-truck however, had a different plan of attack. I guess he didn’t want to slow down, so he quickly merged to the right and blew past the intersection. Most people who see something like that happen will not let that person into traffic once the lane ends though. As I approached the dump-truck, that at this point was at a dead stop, I must have let just a little too much space between myself and the car in front of me because he decided that he was going to take it. As the dump-truck lurched forward, I slammed on my brakes, tried my best not to partake in the first thing you do when you get cut off referenced above, and let him in. Now the speed limit on the expressway is only 40 mph (which makes me question why in the world they would call it an express-way in the first place), but this truck must have thought, “that’s just too fast for me. I’m going to go 20.”

With this extra time I had being stuck behind this massive, pebble spewing, diesel smelling behemoth, I started thinking about what did he have to do that was so much more important that he had to cut me off and drive 20 mph. Couldn’t he tell that I had important things to do? As I asked that question, it made me think, “couldn’t I tell that he had important things to do as well?” Now I have no idea where he was going or what he was planning on doing with that load of debris that was in his truck other than throw it at my car, but it would have been something that could help me in the future that I just can see yet.

dump_tip_wiresI began to think about what we were talking about last night at Ignition, the Sr. High student ministry at Lenape Valley Church. We were talking about God’s plan for our lives and how sometimes we want to run the ship, but all He wants from us is to let go of the reigns. We talked about how God’s idea for our lives usually doesn’t make sense at first and it’s not until later, if ever, that we really get the big picture. Maybe this dump-truck cutting me off was just a jerk with little patience, or maybe he was sent there for a reason, maybe to get me to slow down, or think to write this article. What I do know is we need to let go of control more often and be open to the plans that God has for our everyday lives and not just the big picture stuff. We also need to remember; sometimes it might not be about God’s plan for our lives but God’s plan for someone else’s life.

Next time you get cut off and blindsided by a figurative (or literal) dump-truck take a moment to think about letting go of the reigns, stopping the rush, and letting God be in control of the little things.

Dec 09

Recaptured but the Wonder of God – Sermon at LVC

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I preached yesterday at the morning traditional service at Lenape Valley Church on Isaiah 40:21-31 and being recaptured by God’s wonder. I also talked about exchanging your own strength for the supernatural strength that God Himself offers to each and every one of us.

Recaptured by the Wonder of God – Listen here

You can also check it out on the church website here.

Nov 26

Stop Waiting for Step Two

IMG_0841I just go back form a great trip to Nashville for Youth Specialties’ National Youth Workers Convention. It was a great, rejuvenating, and fun-filled trip with some great college friends and some new ones. This is my 4th year going to this convention and it seems like it gets better and better every time. Not only is NYWC very spiritually uplifting, but I always end up leaving with great ideas to take back to the youth that I work with. This year I had one takeaway that really outweighed the rest.

One of the big room speakers, Mark Batterson, said something like, “We are too afraid to take the first step until God reveals to us the second step.” We don’t like taking that first step without know the second because that requires real faith. It honestly reminds me of the movies Field of Dreams. In the movie, Ray Kinsella hears a voice that says, “If you build it, he will come.” so after talking to his wife, he built a baseball field and these famous dead baseball players show up out of the corn field to play. It took Ray a huge amount of faith to do that not knowing what would really happen. It would be easier for Ray if the baseball players showed up first and then he decided to build the field.

Just like Abraham in the Bible was told to pack up all he had and go to a new land that God had promised him. All God told him to do was go. Abraham was not told where. He had faith that God would come through on His promise. He didn’t sit and wait to hear what step two would be, he went only knowing step one.

So the question is, what is God calling you to that you are too nervous to start because you just don’t know what will happen next? God calls us all to be a Christian, but then has a great plan for our lives and most of the time its something big and unexpected. Something like building a huge boat to hold all the earths animals or leave our home land to a land that has been promised, or be the savior of a nation that is in slavery, or toss our nets on the other side.

10347198-eastern-university-sealMy first big moment was answering the call to youth ministry by going to college for youth ministry. I left behind the plan of Computer Science, and under great scrutiny from my parents and teachers, I went into ministry. I didn’t know where that would have me end up, but I trusted that God would lead me there.

Recently I’m not sure that I could say I have that amount of trust in most areas of my life. I don’t think my wife and I are being called right now to have kids, but if we were, I don’t think I would have the faith do it while we are financially unstable. It’s difficult to know that God will provide. My heart says He will but so often my head gets in the way.

I trust that God has a plan for every one of us and he will reveal it to us. Sometimes he just waiting for us to listen to the first step before he gives us the second one.  We need faith and we need to show it by doing step one with out needing to wait on step two. James 2:14-17 says:

“14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Show that you have faith and do what God has asked of you. He has your back just like he has mine.

Important!

What are you waiting to do until God has shown you step 2?

Oct 16

So Yeah, I Got Married

KendraNBryanA 176On September 7th of this year I married the love of my life. I honestly cannot believe it has been over a month now since that whole thing went down. My beautiful wife Kendra and I settled into our new place together, we bought our first ‘new’ piece of furniture (that actually got delivered today), and we have loved every minute of it so far!

I am not about to be the one that starts giving advice on how to be married happy. We have only been working on it for 40 days so far. I will share a few things though that you should be ready for in the few weeks leading up to and few weeks after the wedding.

You never know how much ‘stuff’ you really have until you move in together. Another big thing that could go with this one is to never try to move right before you get married. The lease in my old apartment was going to be up the day Kendra and I were scheduled to get married. We had 2 options, pay for another month with a 20% increase of what I was already paying and move after the wedding, or suck it up and move before the wedding. We picked that latter. Not only did we have to find an apartment, clean it, pack all the stuff from my old apartment, clean my old apartment, pack all the stuff that Kendra had at her parents, move it, and unpack everything, we had to do the last-minute preparations for our wedding too! Nearly 2 months after we moved in there is still stuff scattered all over the place in boxes just waiting to be unpacked. My kayak is still out in the yard because we can’t find a place for it yet. We also have an attic that’s already full. We are getting there though and having a fun time doing it.

KendraNBryanA 010One piece of advice, don’t wait until the night before you have to leave for the venue to start packing all the decorations up. This doesn’t really apply if you’re paying a company to set everything up for you, but in this day and age, more and more people are doing everything themselves trying to save money where ever they can. Kendra and I were up till 4 am packing all the decorations and things on Thursday night before we had to leave. Not the best plan.

Finally, be ready to go with the flow. Things will happen, the flowers wont be able to be picked up until a day after you expected them to be, people you expect to show up at a certain time will not, and the people you least expect will step up and save the day. There were countless things that “went wrong” compared to what we originally had planned for the weekend, but you would never have guessed it if you were a guest. We talked  early on that we knew that things would go wrong and all we could do was decided how we would handle it when it did. As long as people had a good time we were happy, and everyone did have a great time.

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Planning and executing a wedding is one of the most stressful things that I have ever done, and it is the most stressful thing that Kendra and I’s relationship has ever gone through. Thinking back on it, it was a good thing and really grew us closer together as a couple. We didn’t have time to analyze what was going on, we just had to run with it and trust that the other could handle it.

One of the things that we have asked people who have been married a long time is for advice to a successful, God honoring, and long-lasting marriage, so if anyone reading this would like to leave some advice down in the comments, please feel free to do so! We would like to thank everyone for all the love and support that they have given us over the last few months. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Sep 26

No Limits : Sermon at LVC

1374318_726502107375792_1024712542_nI have been here at Lenape Valley Church for a little over 2 years now and I have finally had the opportunity to preach at the morning traditional service this past Sunday. I talked about the parable of the Good Samaritan. If you have nothing else to do and would like to listen to a message about loving with no limits then check it out.

No Limits – Listen Here

You can also see it on the church website at LenapeValleyChurch.org

Apr 10

The Canvas

CanvasYour life is what you make of it, right? Our lives are like huge canvases that we are supposed to cover with things like jobs, kids, religion, love and romance. A picture of what your life is starts to take shape out of what seems to be formless and void. Sometimes it looks beautiful, lavished with money and power, almost flawless. But everyone makes mistakes. That time they let the brush slip and no matter how many times you try to cover it up, it just won’t disappear.Your friends and family might not be able to see it, but you know it’s there. And if you look hard enough, sometimes you can see it peeking through.

Your goal, by the end of your life, is to have a masterpiece that will not be forgotten. Your desire is for someone to see it and want to hang it up on their wall and model their canvas after yours.

There is just one problem with this theory. We long so much to be the artist and be able to paint our canvas however we see fit, but that’s not how it works. You are the canvas!

If you are the canvas, then who is the artist? We try to be the artist and paint things on ourselves that are never quite perfect.

For those of us out there that are not very good artists; I know when I try to draw or paint something I can see it perfectly in my head how I want it to look, but as soon as pencil or brush meet paper there is a disconnect. No matter how long I try to make it look like what I am thinking about, it never even comes close.

Color outside2It’s because our vision for our canvas is not what that canvas was created for. It’s like a child coloring in a coloring book and can’t seem to stay in the lines. That page was made to look like something, but we just can’t manage the complexity. So we splatter paint, try to erase what we have done, and hide our canvas from other people. We try to tell people, “Oh, its abstract,” or, “that’s what I want it to look like,” but we feel that disconnect and can’t manage to stay in the lines.

I love watching an artist at work doing a live painting because you never know what it is until it fully takes shape. Sometimes it looks just like a mess of lines and it’s not until the painter puts that last few strokes on the page that you finally realize what it was supposed to be all along. Kendra (my fiancé) and I like to paint together and sometimes one of us will say, “Oh, it totally looks like a tree!” Even though neither of us were trying to paint a tree, so we start using what we see to paint a tree. Then it starts to look like something else, so we paint something else.

You are the canvas and God is the artist. God has a plan for each of our lives that we can’t even begin to understand. We try to see just a little piece of the painting and decide, “Oh, that’s a tree!” and add our concept of what a tree is. All we do is get in the way of the Painter or paint over His work. He has a masterpiece planned for your life. Put down your brush and enjoy watching God paint you!

 

Important!

For reflection:

Why is it so hard to let God have full control?

Tell us about a time when you were truly able to let go and let God paint.

 

Jan 16

How to Survive a Zombie Attack

66481_10151356649436998_1391025918_nWe just got finished with our 2013 Winter Retreat here at LVPC. It was a wonderful, spirit filled weekend. The theme was ‘How to Survive a Zombie Attack,’ and the 3 lessons being ‘Patient 0′, ‘The Outbreak’, and ‘Surviving.’ It is not as difficult of a correlation as you might think. The Zombie virus that is talked about on almost all zombie movies and shows can be related to the sin infection in our lives and the world around us. It worked out pretty well and the students loved it.

If any other Youth Ministers out there are interested in the material I used, the talk outlines, and other stuff, I am going to make them available for download. I am making it free for anyone so please don’t try to pass it off as your own.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/pmwznynoxh9p9vw/NJan35B8OI

I also downloaded the bumper videos and slide backgrounds here.

http://stufficanuse.com/

(stufficanuse.com seems to not have the resources loaded on their new site any more. Email me if you would like them.)

Oct 03

The Start of a New Adventure: Asking Dad

Kendra’s Father, Bill

Written September 27th 2012

Tomorrow is the day I ask Kendra to marry me. I talked to her father yesterday to ask for permission. That was probably one of the hardest and most stressful things I have ever had to do. I can honestly not imagine what it will belike if I have daughters one day and their boyfriend comes up to me to ask for permission. I wonder If I will see it coming at all. I would probably have to screw with them a bit though. If they knew me well enough at that point I’m sure they would know. “Can I have your daughter’s hand in marriage?”, “You do know that she used to be a man right?” That will get them. I might have to record it too!

We got to Kendra’s parents house around 9:15 last night to pick up the fishing boat for this weekend. While her father, Bill, and I were putting the gas motor on the small aluminum fishing boat that we were going to bring up to the cabin, Kendra was inside chatting with here mom. This is was perfect opportunity, but I stalled. I had an opportunity to ask her dad for his permission about a week and a half ago while wet were out in their garden grabbing some bell peppers to take home, but I stalled then too. I chickened out and missed the best and only opportunity I had to ask to that point. I couldn’t let the last opportunity pass me by just like it did before.

I gathered my strength and was about to ask again. My heart was beating out of my chest, like when your watching your favorite football team about to kick the winning field goal against a team that they have never beaten in the regular season only times 100. (Not a Ravens vs. Patriots reference ;) ) but I chickened out again. I was yelling at myself on the inside. Why couldn’t I ask?! Why did I choke every time I got close to saying it? Finally we were about to go inside when I had no choice left. “So my plan this weekend is to ask your daughter to marry me,” I said, “And I would like your permission and blessing before I do.” He said that was fine. It was kinda of the reaction that my parents had the first time I told them that I was buying an engagement ring. It was a sense of, “I really have not clue how to react, so I’m just not going to react.”

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be part of this family. I have almost felt a part of it since the first time I met them last November. I know Kendra will say yes when I ask, but my heart is already beating out of my chest for that one and I still have about another 33 hours to wait for that question

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The Start of a New Adventure: 2 Days!?

Here’s to hoping she checks yes…

Written September 26th, 2012

I just finished the painting that I will give Kendra when I propose on Friday. I hope she checks yes… :)

Getting a little nervous and a little excited.

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