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    Youth Ministries Blog

    Pastor John's Blog

    Friday
    Mar032017

    Get It

    Working alongside of students is one of the most fulfilling aspects of ministry—especially when they just “get it.”  Over the past three years, we have seen students impact our worshiping community, our Coronado community—especially their peers—and the world.  Watching students who have a passion for Christ and the Church is one of my favorite things in the world—they just “get it.”   

     

    This year for Project25, both clubs at CMS and CHS are partnering with the Mowad family as they follow God’s call to Thailand.  The Mowad family accepted a call to work with Cadence International with the goal of equipping leaders with the Gospel and developing a stronger Christ-Centered presence in Thailand.  All this sprang up from students caring for one another, then came the vision sharing.  Through the relationships, the Mowad girls have in the youth ministry, the Club Blank and Converge students are all in.  Now there are 80 middle school students and high school students with a shared vision to see the Mowads fulfill their calling and for the Kingdom to continue growing—they just flat out “get it.”

     

    The best part of it all—it’s easy!  The Kingdom is growing because of the relationships with Jesus Christ and the relationships we have with each other.  People talk about being only 7 degrees of separation from everyone in the world—and that might actually be true.  But what I can tell you is true is God wants us to live in relationship with each other and with Jesus.  From there, the rest is easy.  Mountains will move, more people will see the blessing of following Jesus and the Mowads will be in Thailand! 

     

    It does not take courage.  It does not take a college degree.  It certainly does not take being a pastor—it takes a willing heart and “getting it!”  You’re probably wondering what “it” actually is.  Well, that’s easy too.  Jesus is calling us to be in relationship with him and with each other serving one another.  For the students that get it—I praise God every day!

     

    Thank You Lord!

     

    Blessings,

    Pastor John

    Associate Pastor

    Tuesday
    Nov082016

    What Changes?

    What changes after the election today?  Many have argued EVERYTHIING.  There seems to be a higher than normal level of anxiety over the election.  This is the year our country might elect the first woman for President of the United States.  It was not long ago the first African-American was elected as President of the United States—Barak Obama.  To say the least, these are major changes for our nation.  What makes our country so great is our freedom to vote.  Our voices elect the people who will lead us.  Not only do we vote leaders into office, but we also vote on propositions.  This is our time.  And for some the direction our country is headed scares them while others are excited.  No matter where you are, these are our times.

     

    It’s difficult not to assume where our country’s high level of anxiety comes from.  Too many of us place our trust in the President to bring hope to this country.  It seems too much for one person to shoulder.  The responsibility of the President is truly great. Unfortunately, this election year seems to be the most divisive election in a long time—some say ever.  And really, how can one person bring so much change?  In 2008, President Obama’s campaign slogans were “Change We Can Believe In,” and “Change We Need,” or simply “Hope.”  This is the message President Obama wanted the people to hear.  There is change in the air and it is hopeful.  Or, so that’s what we were to believe.  But, as I think about who I am and who I am becoming, how much change has taken place in me these last 4-years? 

     

    Now, my goal is not to write about the presidential climate of the U.S. but to bring to our attention where true hope and change comes from—and I must say—not from the President of the United States.  There is hope for change that really matters and it comes from Jesus Christ.  Do not get me wrong, there is great honor, power and authority in the position of the presidency—they are the Commander and Chief of the U.S. Military.  But when it comes to my every day choices and who I am when no one is looking—it does not matter who the President is, was or will be.  What matters is how my soul is being shaped by Jesus into Jesus. 

     

    So what changes?  Nothing?  Everything?  I guess it depends on your perspective.  No matter what the outcome of the presidential election is today—God is still sovereign over everything.  What changes for you?  Hopefully, you are encouraged to keep a Kingdom perspective where our change comes from knowing Jesus Christ and walking with him daily—that is where I have seen the most significant change in my life. 

     

    Now go vote!  (Only if you're old enough)

     

    Blessings,

    Pastor John

    Associate Pastor

    Friday
    Aug052016

    My Story

    Everyone has a story.  Sometimes stories have happy endings, like 99.99% of all Hollywood movies—but not all stories end happily.  All stories consist of main characters, protagonists and antagonists.  Each story follows a plot that consists of a beginning, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.  What makes a great story is one we find ourselves lost in because we relate by finding common themes in our own story.  These stories reveal the power of overcoming overwhelming odds.  And when I think about stories with overwhelming odds, I immediately think of Lord of the Rings!  (A must seek trilogy!  If you haven’t seen it, you can borrow mine!).

     

    My story is not as powerful as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it is powerful in its own right.  My story begins very simply with two parents trying to figure out how to make ends meet in a new country.  Many of you know my parents came to US in the mid 70s.  They left Cairo—everything they knew and understood for the U.S.—the land of opportunity.  Even more, they left Cairo because of persecution.  My family seriously felt, and experienced, the deep tension for Christians in the Middle East. 

     

    This may not be anything like your story, but there are several common elements that intersect in our stories.  What you can probably relate to is my parents did not honestly understand what it was like for me growing up.  Their experience and mine were so vastly different.  They grew up in the Cairo, Egypt in a time and place so vastly different than Southern California—or any place in the U.S. for that matter.  Southern California was the epitome of “Western Culture.”  All my parents knew was their experience in Cairo and Western Culture came with a very negative stigma—and I often proved the stigma true.  The struggle was very real.  It seemed as though I could do nothing right in their eyes. 

     

    I faced antagonists who persuaded me to push the clear boundaries clearly drawn in the sand.  Often, the promise of being accepted by others who I admired because of what they had, or because of what they knew, or even because of their experience. There are also protagonists in my story who helped me see God’s ultimate desire for my life—but it was (and is) a struggle.  It was a struggle against what I wanted to do against what I should have done.  Praise God for the times I succeeded!  But more often than not, I fail miserably—or at least it seemed that way. 

     

    You see, stories are powerful.  Stories connect people.  They unit us in deep and meaningful ways as we live day today.  When I hear a story, I am captured by the powerful emotions people feel and find myself almost experiencing those same emptions.  It is easy to be drawn into someone’s story.  The great thing about story is it shows us we’re not alone.  There is a much bigger story than my own—God’s story.

     

    God’s story is about love that brings forth forgiveness and redemption—ultimately restoration.  Everyone has a place in God’s story!  Do not get this one wrong.  We are not pawns in God’s story.  We are God’s most prized creation.  There is nothing more fulfilling for God when one of His creation recognizes their part in God’s story—as a beloved child!  We all fit into God’s story like thread in a beautiful tapestry or blanket.

     

    Starting the Fall of 2016 is like opening a new chapter in our story.  It’s this time of year when summer is quickly coming to an end and we start gearing up for school.  I know it’s not the most pleasant thought, but believe it or not, it is a good one.  Some of you are starting at a new school filled with great anticipation.  Others are moving into different classes with new teachers which brings renewed excitement—wherever you find yourself in the overall story (or metanarrative) God is already at work!

     

    This year we are going to hear several stories from people who have gone before us and how their story lines up with God’s story.  We will hear the significance of who God is and who we are.  We will also hear about how God speaks to us through the Word of God and how it guides and directs us back towards God.  We will hear about the challenges others have faced giving us strength when similar challenges come our way.  Even more, we will see how these challenges strengthen our faith when we faithfully seek God in the midst of trials! 

     

    I’m excited about what God is going to do as we launch the 2016-2017 school year.  Year after year, we see God faithfully show up on Tuesday nights to challenges us.  This year will only be more evidence to this fact! I invite you to join us this year to faithfully seek Truth and hear the struggles and triumphs of other who have walked before you—seeking Truth and finding it in Jesus.  The best part of God’s story is the end is clearly known and we praise God for the ultimate triumph at the end!

     

    Blessings,

    Pastor John

    Associate Pastor

    Tuesday
    Jun072016

    Change is Inevitable

    People always say there are only two guarantees in life—Death and Taxes.  I like to say there three guarantees in life—Death, Taxes and Change.  Change is inevitable.  It seems like just yesterday Isaac (our oldest of three boys) and I road to kindergarten at ECDC for the first day of school.  Now the year is over and Isaac is already excited about starting first grade.  Where does the time go?  If you are a parent, I’m sure you feel the same way. Time seems to be speeding up and if we’re not careful life happens to us and we feel like we’ve missed some of the most important moments—even the small ones. 

     

    People tell me “John, hang on to your seat every year is going to go by faster and faster.”  For me, it’s exciting to watch our boys grow up and it’s a blessing to hear Isaac’s excitement about first grade. And all I do is encourage him by telling him how exciting the first grade will be.   It’s almost a double edged sword, we want our children to grow up to be self-reliant, independent, successful members of society—we pour so much of our lives into them.  (Yes, if you’re a parent you’re probably saying—“John, just wait until they are in high school”).  As parents we do pour our lives into our children, they need it.  They need our guidance and direction.  They need to know we love them and are on their side.  But knowing all this still doesn’t make change any easier wherever you are.

     

    Change can be difficult for a number of reasons.  For some, like Isaac is expressing, it’s exciting.  For others, the unknown can be terrifying even to the point of paralysis.  Now that June is here and the sun is shining, that means change is immanent.  For students in the 5th grade starting a new school can be a little intimidating (or a lot).  Not to mention having to figure out how to manage so many difficult classes and teacher expectations.  Likewise, for 8th grade students moving from the “top of the food chain” at CMS to “freshman” status at CHS.  It’s a big drop.  And for all those in between it probably feels like another year with different a classroom and different teachers.  Then there are graduating seniors who are venturing into a completely different world—or at least that’s probably how it feels. 

     

    To all the seniors we say congratulations.  We are extremely proud of who you are and who you are becoming.  Congratulations to:  

     

    Sydney Althof Clark Fahrenthold Nicholas Kinzel
    Blake Aull Emily Fitzgerald Victoria Rose Meek
    Briana Barns Cole Forrester James Michael
    Jacob Blauser Ethan Haas Megan Ogilvie
    Lucas Darquea Caitlin Harbison Joshua Reyes
    Courtney Douglas Robert Henderson Raven Rotherham
    Corin Edwards Julie Hill Kendall Shaub
    Olivia Ellis Holden Hollenbeck Erin Trickel
    Patrick Everett Trevor Iltis Madison Wertz

     

    I have watched so many of these seniors grow physically, emotionally and spiritually and this change is going to be one of the hardest yet.  I can only imagine how difficult it is for all the moms and dads.  I pray for God’s hand to be upon all the parents in our little village.  I pray for the parents who are struggling and those who are not.  May the Lord continue to reveal Himself to all of us every single day.

     

    It’s that truth that sustains?!  God is with us through all the inevitable changes life has for us.  During the Christmas season, we say “Emmanuel” which means God with us.  We can surely take comfort in the promises made by God “to never leave us or forsake us.”  We can certainly rest assured that God is on our side through the thick and thin.  For this I have confidence during times of change in life.  I hope and pray you do too!

     

    Blessings,

    Pastor John

    Associate Pastor

    Friday
    May062016

    Faithfulness

    Watching students exercise their faith and learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus is one of the best things I do.  It is a real privilege and honor to walk alongside of students as they grow spiritually.  Most days I hope for just a fraction of their faith because I see students move mountains.  This past month has proven again how much faith our students have in a God that uses people to do wonderful and even miraculous things. 

     

    What was the wonderful and even miraculous thing the students accomplished?  There are so many I could recount for you, but the most recent was Project25!  Project25 is based on the parable Jesus teaches in Matthew 25.  The parable is quite simple.  It involves a landowner and three servants.  As Jesus tells the parable, the landowner goes away and leaves 5 bags of money (talents) to one servant.  He leaves 3 bags to another and 1 bag to the last servant.  The first two servants invest what was given to them doubling the landowner’s money while the final servant hides the bag of money to keep it safe. 

    When the landowner returns to collect what was given to the servants, the first 2 servants are rewarded for their faith in action.  Because they were faithful with a little, the landowner gives the first two servants more responsibility.  But sadly, out of fear, the final servant who hid the bag of money was cast out.  The landowner says to the servant, “the least you could have done is put it in the bank and earn interest.”  It was fear that paralyzed the last servant from blessing the landowner and multiplying the investment.  It was fear that kept the servant from experiencing the blessings that are turned back by the landowner. 

    Project25 is exactly that—except instead of servants we use 50 Christian clubs in San Diego and Coronado.  And, rather than a “landowner” going away, several generous donors give 50 Christian clubs in San Diego and Coronado a $100 mini-grant.  All the clubs are challenged to invest their money, bringing students and adults from the community together to advance the kingdom of heaven—and that we did!

     

    This year Club Blank (CMS) and Club Converge (CHS) joined forces to equip ministry leaders in Ethiopia.  There is a movement happening in Ethiopia beyond anything one could have imagined.  By the hundreds, Muslim men and women are coming to faith in Jesus and being baptized.  Our partner in Ethiopia is working diligently to build a center where the church leader in Ethiopia will receive biblical teaching, training, encouragement and even protection.  The clubs got wind of a building project in Ethiopia and wanted to help make it a reality.  The Christian clubs at CMS and CHS learned of the church leaders who were risking everything for Jesus and it only ignited a fire to make this year’s Project25 adventure the best one ever.

     

    Like I said, watching students test their faith and learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus is one of the best things I do.  The students organized a benefit concert on April 30th, inviting several top notch bands from Coronado School of Performing Arts to perform, the local community (Natural Disaster & Fischers of Men), along with a full dinner and silent auction.  More than 30 students were involved with an additional 15-20 adults in setup, implementation and cleanup.  By the way, all the adults answered to the students.  Students lead, planned and executed the entire event.  Personally, I try to stay out of their way because they are focused and determined.  They were given $200.  After the benefit concert, they turned their $200 into over $6,000.00—all of which will be donated to the Light and Life Regional Equipping Center building fund!

     

    For those who participated in the Benefit Concert—Thank you.

    For those who contributed—Thank you.

    For those who encouraged students at Club Blank and Club Converge—Thank you.

    For all the students that lead the charge—Thank you for teaching me once again what it means be to a faithful follower of Jesus!

     

    All that is left to say is—To God be the glory!

     

    Blessings,

    Pastor John

    Associate Pastor