Uncharted 4 and Life Priorities

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As I am writing this blog post, there are only 21 days until the release of Naughty Dog’s next entry in the Uncharted series, “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.” It should be said that I am a huge Naughty Dog fan and a huge fan of the Uncharted series. I have played through the first three games and I am half way through the PlayStation Vita title, “Uncharted: The Golden Abyss.”

If you are someone who has never played or seen an Uncharted game. The games are story driven and focus on the character of Nathan Drake. Each story is one of grand adventure, much like an Indian Jones movie. Drake finds ancient treasures through exploration and many different shootouts with the bad guys of the game.

In preparation for the fourth and final Nathan Drake story, I have been playing through the first three Uncharted games again. As I have been playing through these games and have watched the different promotions for Uncharted 4, a common theme began to clarify in the overarching story of Nathan Drake. This theme has been made even apparent by the most recent Uncharted 4 trailer:

To me, the theme is one of life priories. At the beginning of the Uncharted series, Drake is in the search for Eldorado and its treasures. In the process he meets and starts a relationship with Elena Fisher. Throughout the next two games, his relationship with Elena (SPOILER ALERT) continues to be an up and down style of relationship. Part of the reason for this rocky road of a relationship is Drake’s obsession with risking his life for certain treasures. From the trailer above, it seems like this theme is going to carry over into this final chapter in Drake’s story as well.

This has caused me to look at my own life. Are there things in my own life that I am perhaps pursuing at the possible detriment of those around me? As a Christian, am I pursuing my own personal goals to the detriment of my relationship with Jesus?

Matthew 16:25 states: “All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them.”

Whether you are Christian or not, it all comes down to the priorities of our life. What is the most important thing? I cannot wait for later in my life to begin to build the habits and priorities I desire for my life. If I want to be a better writer, I need to start now. If I want to exercise more, I need to start now. If I want to make church and my relationship with God a priority, I need to start now. Every day that I let something else take the place of what I want to give a high priority to, is a day that I am changing my priorities to the them replacing the first priority.

More than likely, you and I will not end up in a situation where we have to choose between family and treasure, like Nathan Drake, but we might have to make a choice between those we love and something else. By the grace of God may we always make the right choice.

Uncharted 4 releases May 10th. Click here to learn more about the Uncharted series and purchase your copy today.


 

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A Youth Pastor’s Must Read: Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World

 

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I have been a youth pastor for six years now. One thing that I have learned from these years of ministry is that part of being a good youth pastor, or a good pastor in general, is the ability to be a continuous learner. I never assume what I know and understand about youth ministry is the best or even most satisfactory way to minster. Youth ministry is a constant race to keep up with your students.

A few years ago, I sent a message out to some of my fellow youth pastor friends asking for book recommendations. A friend recommended a book, by Brock Morgan, titled “Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World: A Hopeful Wake-Up Call.” I proceeded to purchase it, but it sat on my kindle for a year and a half before I finally sat down to read Morgan’s book.

In case you are someone who doesn’t like reading a lot of writing or you are skimming this post, I want to make this clear from the beginning. If you are youth pastor in the United States and have not read “Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World: A Hopeful Wake-Up Call,” GO AND PURCHASE IT AMAZON NOW and read it.

I genuinely believe it is a must read for any youth pastor and even some lead pastors. Morgan does an amazing job of painting a picture of the world and mindset of the students in our youth ministries. Further, he explains why the methods of our youth ministry past might not be working any more.

He touches on subject like:

  • What defines the post-Christian world (as I am sure some of you are already asking, but I don’t want to take away from his book).
  • What are post-Christian world students looking for in faith?
  • How to properly define success in youth ministry
  • How to keep your focus and keep going

Ministry is a constantly changing field. Even more so when it comes to the youth of our churches. As youth ministers, we sometimes bear the heavy burden and expectations of keeping students in our churches. If we hope to even succeed, we best understand our ministry purpose and the students we are ministering too.

This post is not really a book review. This post is a book recommendation. If you are interested in reading Morgan’s book, you can click here to head over to amazon and purchase a physical copy of kindle version.

I want to close this recommendation with a quote from “Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World: A Hopeful Wake-Up Call.”

“The essence of youth ministry is to create environments where students can experience the warmth of God. With every talk we give, every game or activity we lead, and every time we run into students at the mall, they experience God’s warmth. And that’s because our relationship with Jesus is our ministry.”

Morgan, Brock (2013-09-24). Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World: A Hopeful Wake-Up Call (Kindle Locations 159-161). The Youth Cartel. Kindle Edition.

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5 Ways To Be Thankful

  
I don’t know if your year has been anything like mine, but this year has gone by incredibly fast. Whether you year has gone by quickly or slowly, the month of November is upon us. This means two different things.

First, it means you better begin planning for what you are going to be buying your family for Christmas. Second, it means it is the season of being thankful.

Each year, my wife and I sit down with our extended family to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner. During this meal, we always take time to go around and have everyone share something that they are thankful for from the previous year. That time is honestly one of my favorite times year. 

It is so important to be a thankful person. So, I thought I would write this post to help us discover some ways they can be thankful during this season.

1. Realize you are called to be thankful

Before we can even think about what we should be thankful for, we have to realize that God calls us to be thankful people. Paul writes in Colossians 3:15, “The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people.” Further Paul writes in Ephesians 5:20, “always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” As Christians, we are called to give thanks for everything.

2. Look at everything in your life and think of why you are thankful for it

I’ll be honest, this one seems like an obvious one. The sad thing is that we sometimes overlook the obvious things in our lives that we can be thankful for. This point is to help us evaluate everything and give thanks for it. It can be as big as the fact thank you keep breathing and as simple as having a bar of soap for when you shower. 

3. Look to the past

Sometimes in life, you can’t totally understand where you are and who you are until you look at where you came from. Think through the last five to ten years and think about the kind of person you were back then and who you are now. How have you grown and what have you learned? Who are people who have had a major influence in your life in these past years? This simple process of looking to the past can help you realize different things that you might be thankful for.

4. Tell someone that you are thankful for them

As a natural reaction to number three, there are many people that have had an influence on you in your life. Being thankful for them is great, but it is even better if you actually tell them how thankful you are for what they have done in your life. Perhaps you are shy and don’t want to talk to someone face to face, write a card or send an email.

(Hand written thank you cards are great! They tell the person you are willing to take the time to write a note of thanks. It can mean a lot.)

5. Give back and be generous

Giving back is the natural response to living a thankful life. Once we begin to discover how much we have and have been blessed with, we might discover that we have much that we can bless others with. Generosity is so powerful. 

Proverbs 11:25 states, “Generous persons will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Further Proverbs 22:9 says, “Happy are generous people, because they give some of their food to the poor.”

During this thanksgiving month, there are so many ways to be generous and give back. Start a donation box and slowly fill it with items that you no longer need and can donate to a local shelter or a family in need. Another thing you could do it volunteer at a local food bank or shelter with your family and give back out of your time. Finally, you could consider sponsoring a child from around the world that is in needs (World Vision and Nazarene Compassionate Ministries).

November is the month of thanksgiving. So, go out there and be thankful!

30 Days With Wesley – Day 30: The Send Off

30 Days with Wesley(Optional Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

Today’s optional reading is very fitting for the 30th day of this book. It it Paul’s Biblical send off to his readers in 1 Thessalonians. He writes,

Now, may the God of peace himself cause you to be completely dedicated to him; and may your spirit, soul, and body be kept intact and blameless at our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming. The one who is calling you is faithful and will do this.

It is a beautiful send of. It fits so well for today. If you have been journeying with me through these 30 days with Wesley, I probably have never met you in person and we are not close friends. Though if you are a follower of Jesus like I am, I know that we are both on the same journey of seeking after Christ and letting him transform our lives on a daily basis.

It is this common ground that I send you off. May God keep us dedicated to him and may we be found blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus.

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours,

now and forever.

Amen. 

How did you like the journey of 30 Days with Wesley? Let me know in the comments below.

30 Days With Wesley – Day 29: The Secret To Genuine Faith

Genuine Stamp Showing Real Certified Product(Optional Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-19)

What is genuine faith? What does it look like? How do you know if you have it? Faith is sometimes a complicated subject to think about? What does it mean to have faith? Peter writes and states, “You now rejoice in this hope, even if it’s necessary for you to be distressed for a short time by various trials. This is necessary so that your faith may be found genuine.

Faith is not hard to have. There is the classic example that you have faith in a chair to hold you up. You have faith that your computer is going to work for you so that you can read this post. We have faith in many different things. But what is it that take faith from its regular state and transforms it into genuine faith?

According Peter, it is the test of time. Does your faith stay stable and strong in the face of conflict and testing? When your faith can face something difficult and trying time of life, you can come out knowing that your faith is not a shallow faith but one of genuine faith.

Peter goes on to say that genuine faith is worth fighting for. He states, “(Your faith is more valuable than gold, which will be destroyed even though it is itself tested by fire.) Your genuine faith will result in praise, glory, and honor for you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” May your faith be transformed today and may you find that you have genuine faith.

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours,

now and forever.

Amen.