The losses in our lives are both big and small, and cover a range of experiences. We leave home. We experience physical illness and disabilities. We struggle with vocation and finances. We may long for a spouse or child. We lose people we love to addiction or illness and death. Following is a video featuring my dear friend and colleague Beth Slevcove talking about her new book Broken Hallelujahs. Below is the endorsement I wrote for the publisher, IVP.
"The beautifully fashioned sentences throughout Broken Hallelujahs summon deep contemplation and provoke a wrestling with the realities of our mysterious lives. What is truly refreshing about Broken Hallelujahs is the absence of sentimentalism. However, with a timely cadence, this book moved me to tears – tears of grief, tears of loss and lament, but also tears of joyfulness and gratitude. Beth’s willingness to be vulnerable and to call a thing what it is gave me permission to sink into the profound truth that Jesus Christ shows us it is truly human to sometimes cry out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Broken Hallelujahs ministered to my soul like a Balm of Gilead. I often say, “Wouldn’t it be great if Christians were known in our culture as the people who set aside syrupy platitudes and told the truth about pain, loss and death.” Death is the enemy, but that is not the end of the story… I love this book and hope you take care of your soul by reading this astonishing story."
Mike King, President/CEO, Youthfront; author of Presence Centered Youth Ministry; Twitter @MDKing
I've been having a Bonhoeffer inspired season of Advent. This has mostly been hastened by Andy Root's - @RootAndrew - just released book Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, which I believe (for several reasons) is one of the most important youth ministry books ever written.
Here are a couple of thoughts from Dietrich on Advent.
"The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come." From Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons
"We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for everyone who has a conscience. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Watch for the Light as quoted in Daily Dig, December 18, 2014.
Dr. Jeffrey Keuss, author of "Blur: A New Paradigm for Understanding Youth Culture", and Professor of Christian Ministry, Theology and Culture at Seattle Pacific University is coming to Kansas City as a special guest of Youthfront. On Thursday, October 30th, Jeff will be joining us for a learning day. We will start at 9:00am and finish with lunch provided by Oklahoma Joes. Powerful combination, huh?
Jeff has been a colleague and friend. He is articulate, witty, super interesting and challenging. Our day is being hosted at Christ Community Church in Brookside. To read more about Dr. Keuss and/or to let us know you coming click here.
Jake Kircher’s book Teaching Teenagers in a Post-Christian Worldis a quick but important read for far too many of us youth workers who declare that we have a plan for ministering to youth but deep down aren’t really sure that what we are accomplishing will actually last. Kircher is not afraid to be honest about his youth ministry past and what he believes today.
My friend Jeremy Affeldt, a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, just celebrated his 35th birthday, which coincided with back to back wins on consecutive days. Jeremy has won two World Series Championships with the Giants and factored significantly in the titles. He was his team's 2011 nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award and was voted MLB Setup Man of the Year in 2009. Affeldt was also recognized for his anti-slavery efforts with a nomination for the Jefferson Award for Public Service. So far this year Jeremy is once again showing that he is one of the premiere relievers in the major leagues, pitching in 24 games with 19 strikeouts, 9 holds and a 1.71 ERA. And, I might add, the Giants are the hottest team in baseball with a 41-21 record.
All that to say, Jeremy is a better human being than he is a baseball player. Baseball player doesn't define Jeremy, his faith in Jesus Christ does.
That is the introduction to say, if your father hasn't read Jeremy's book To Stir aMovement,do something special for your father on Father's Day and give him this book. Then you can read it after he is done. It is interesting, inspiring and informative. Act now, and you will have it in time.
We have been able to work closely together to grow Something to Eat™ into something unique that not only provides food for those who are hungry but challenges young people to lean into the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 25.
The best part of this video is that it features Larisa, who is much better looking than Jeremy and the dynamos in their relationship.
From now until May 4, 2012 you can get a free digital book entitled A Mother's Journey of Love, Loss and Life Beyond, on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Apple. Let me explain my connection with this book.
Recently, I received an email from Jennifer Scalise, a mother who
wanted to share a story with me about her daughter, Brooke. Just a few weeks after Brooke’s second summer
at Youthfront Camp West, while on vacation with her family, she was killed in a
negligent accident caused by a tour operator in Costa Rica. This senseless tragedy became national
news. Ultimately Brooke’s mom
wrote a book about her story.
Jennifer has appeared on ABC’s Nightline, Good Morning America,
and World News with Diane Sawyer to tell Brooke’s story.
In her book Jennifer describes
how their family did not go to church but Brooke had gone to camp (at
Youthfront) and had become involved in church. Brooke had become increasingly vocal about her love for
Jesus Christ. Her mom spoke about
how gentle yet consistent Brooke was about her faith in God. The book chronicles the process of her
family’s discovery of Brooke’s deep faith and love for Jesus Christ by reading
her Youthfront Camp Journals after her death. As I read Jennifer’s book A MOTHER’S JOURNEY of Love, Loss and Life Beyond, I
found myself moved to tears on more than one occasion.
summer that Brooke died was the summer we focused on Jesus’ parables in Luke
15. It was amazing in the
book to see Brooke's own handwritten words in her Youthfront camper
manual. She wrote about her life
with Jesus. She revealed how the
parable of the Prodigal Son had impacted her. In the camper manual we had the picture of Rembrandt's
painting of The Return of the Prodigal Son. Brooke’s mom included this picture in her book and wrote
about it, “We found a picture of The Return of the Prodigal
Son by Rembrandt, on which Brooke had written “God” with an arrow to
the man depicting God and then “me” with an arrow to the son kneeling in front
of God. We were shocked Brooke would think this way and would have viewed
herself as the child kneeling in front of God.”
I told Brooke’s mom, “We get to serve thousands of young
people and minister to them. We try to do this with a generous posture
that creates space for their humanity. Too many camps and churches try to
force young people into a confining human-created mold when what is really
needed is an environment that allows young people to lean into their own God
shaped humanity. Brooke definitely embraced Jesus Christ and allowed her
spirit to be set free by God's life-giving spirit.
Brooke’s mom continues, “Much
later, a friend looking at the picture discovered something I had missed.
Brooke had also drawn and circled a distinctive mark on the back of the head of
the son (the person she felt depicted her), a mark in the exact spot and in
accurate proportion to what I would later learn was the most severe of Brooke’s
injuries, and ultimately, the cause of death. Stunned, I moved in a fog for
days after finding this, overwhelmed by the magnitude of what it proved.
all surprised me. Brooke and I were extremely close. She had always confided in
me about everything. Our love was so strong. I have many letters that she wrote
to me in which she tells me that I am her best friend and we shared a bond like
no other. But, as close as we were, I will admit that I was shocked to find out
I was not what mattered most in her life. As we pored through what were now the
greatest gifts of my life, I found a sheet that she had filled out at school,
titled ‘Explore Your Future.’ Under ‘Who do you look up to?’ Brooke listed God,
Jesus, and my parents. Under ‘What is important to you?’ she had written: ‘God,
my family, and friends are all important to me.’ Not many 12 year olds would
write this on a school worksheet in a public school. Seeing this and the other
documents made me realize how her love for God was greater than even her love
for me and that she viewed herself as God’s child first. As devastated as I
was, it gave me peace knowing Brooke was with who she loved most.”
Brooke’s family is thankful to Youthfront for introducing
her into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. I am also thankful that Brooke’s story also involves an
extension of God’s grace into the life of the entire family. This happens all the time. This is our mission and Brooke’s story
is one of thousands of beautiful stories of young people transformed by Jesus
Christ through Youthfront’s ministries.
I am so excited about how well my friend Jeremy Affeldt's book is doing in such a short time. Jeremy is on the 15 Day Disabled List because of a strained right oblique, which is a bummer. But he has been able to do lots of local and national radio and TV interviews.