10 years...that's how long I have been involved in youth ministry. It's hard to believe that it has been that long already. God has done a lot in my life over that time, when I started out as an 18 year old "punk kid" I was zealous for the faith and ready to conquer the word for Christ. I was surrounded by many other young people who had the same passion and desires as I did and it was great. However as I have gotten older my zeal has been tempered with wisdom and maturity. I am really enjoying this time of my life as God is shaping my views and my heart.  Things that I once considered to be important are not so much so now, in fact when I think back to how I used to be it almost makes me cringe a bit. 

I remember about 8 years ago we put on a youth conference at East Valley Vineyard called "The Revolution". There were about 8 of us who organized the whole thing. For nearly a year straight we planned and prayed for the conference and we really felt like God was going to show up and do some amazing things. Our whole goal was that this conference would be the beginning of a massive turn towards God in the East Valley. We wanted God to begin a Revolution amongst the youth, not a revival, because revivals come and go, but revolutions make a lasting impact. At least that was our thinking back then. We kept coming across things at the time that confirmed that we were on the right track; a license plate that read "Rvlton" on a car in front of us on the way home from a prayer meeting, a book geared towards youth called "Revolution: The Call to Holy War" that was released during the time we were planning the conference, verses that we were using (Ezk 37) were starting to show up amongst other youth organizations (Acquire the Fire, The Call, etc). This was it, God was going to move and the world would be forever changed. Not that our little conference would do it on it's own, but we were a part of the bigger movement. All of our talks were geared towards "No Compromise" life styles; "You wouldn't eat a cake with just a little bit of manure mixed in, so why would you live a life with just a little bit of garbage in it? Why watch movies with just a little sex? Why listen to music with just a little bit of swearing? Why give in just a little bit? God has set us apart. We are supposed to live holy lives. We are supposed to be different than everyone else, how can we be different if we do the same things they do? So stop listening to secular music, stop going to movies that have garbage in them, stop talking like the rest of the world so God can use you to take back your schools, work, families back for Him." Honestly this was our thinking. This was our battle cry. We were on the front lines of a "holy war" a revolution. The conference came and went. It was fun. We had about 300 people show up, had some great worship and some great speakers. But in the end it was just another conference, the world didn't change but my heart began to. 

From that time until now I have gone through a transformation. It is no longer important to me to try to start a revolution. At least not in the sense above. I have no desire to take back the schools or the workplace or the world for Jesus. At least not in the sense above. And while living a life that is "set apart" is scriptural and important, I no longer view this as trying to live "better" than others. The Christian walk is so much more than any of this. 

At our church I have discovered that all of our pastors kind of have their own thing. Pastor J is the "theology" guy. Whenever he preaches you can expect to get a good dose of it and it's great. Pastor M is our resident Dr Phill. He does most of the counseling and when he preaches it is often along those lines. Pastor D is the "liturgy" guy. He seems to enjoy Celtic spirituality, and ancient spiritual practices (Lectio Divina, contemplative prayer, etc). I am starting to realize that I am the "real" guy, not that the other pastors are not real, but rather the concept or reality or authenticity seems to be my thing if you will. What does a relationship with Jesus look like in the real world? What does it look like in my relationships with Christians and non Christians? How does this play out in my response to those in need? Can I be honest enough with myself, others and God to admit when I screw up? Or that I don't have it all figured out? Can I break out of the "Christian Bubble" that has it's own way of doing things in order to meet people where they are at rather than expecting them to come to me? And in the process of figuring all of this out in my own life how do I bring others along on the journey with me?

That's where I'm at at the moment. I'm sure God's not done with me yet. In another 10 years I may look back to this time in much the same way as I now look back to 10 years ago. Who knows. One thing I do know for sure is that I never want to stop being real in my faith and I never want to stop growing.

God bless you guys and have a merry Christmas