Archives For December 2012

Trust: It’s Not Easy

December 31, 2012 — 2 Comments

“Trust me”. It has to be one of the scariest things that someone can ever say to you. It goes without saying that we cannot trust someone that we do not know. It goes against everything inside us. What we need to figure out is that here is the secret to learning to trust God. We have to get to know Him. When someone says to us, “Trust me,” we have one of two natural reactions. We either say, “Ok, I’ll trust you,” or we say, “Why should I?” In when we are talking about God, trusting Him naturally follows when we understand why we should trust Him.

Unlike men, God never lies and never fails to come through on His promises He makes to His children. Unlike men, God has the power to bring to plan, pass, and know the purposes of why we are in the situation we are in. God’s plans are perfect, holy, and righteous and if we are constantly seeking Him in prayer and reading through Scripture, we will see that He is worthy of our trust and our trust is best held in Him. The more and more we look back in our lives and see how faithful He has been, and has proven Himself to be trustworthy in our lives and the lives of others, our trust will grow in Him day by day.

To know God is to trust God.

Numbers 23:19- God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

Isaiah 14:24- The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,

Romans 8:28- And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose

Ephesians 2:8-10- For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Psalm 100:5- For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I really trusting God with my life?
  • What is holding me back from allowing me to 100% trust in Him?

Pray for:

  • Trust in God. That His plans are better than your plans.
  • The determination to know Him more because to know Him is to trust Him.
  • That you trust Him with your life.
  • Whatever is holding you back from fully trusting God, to be revealed and dealt with.




Youth Workers: You Are Loved

December 27, 2012 — 5 Comments

Is it budgeting meeting time for you too? Some of you join me in solidarity as you just went through this meeting yourself, and others of you just got mad at me for reminding you that it’s coming up in a few months. Woops, sorry.

It’s no secret that many churches are hurting finically and when it comes to the church budgeting meeting sometimes it looks likes a wrestling match. Different ministries are fighting to not lose money here or to gain money there. Then it comes time to talk about student ministry and the criticisms starts.

Some of the comments are constructive.

Some of the comments you just nod politely and think, “Homie, you think student ministry is just a good message and a game huh? Ahh that’s cute.”

Then there it is; that one comment that pierces you where it hurts most. You just want walk out of the room crying or reach across the table and strangle the person. You know that feeling I’m talking about? Perhaps this feeling did not occur at that budget meeting. Maybe it that one comment from a parent, or that co-worker, or that e-mail, or something else entirely, but as a youth worker you are not only offended, but your feelings are hurt and for a split (or not so split) moment you are numb.

I want to recognize the reality that we in student ministry also hurt. We also go through pains and trials. Sometimes it is work related; we can be having a great time in ministry and then something happens negatively at work and we hold on to that. Yes, I know it is not healthy to hold on to the negative, but let’s admit that we hold on to the negative from time to time. Sometimes our hurt is not work related at all. We too feel loneliness, and we too know the feeling that everything is not alright.

Today, I just want to simply remind you that YOU ARE LOVED. You are loved first of all by the Creator of the universe. You are loved by the God who is compassionate, gracious; slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness. You are loved by the very same God who called you to this ministry. God wants you in this ministry journey. We tell students all the time that they are loved and they are not alone. This time it is our turn to hear that too.

We are loved and we are not alone. Remember when we tell students that Christ shares in their sufferings? Remember when we tell students that Christ knows full well our pains and struggles? Yes, that message is for us as well.

We are loved and we are not alone.

Also know that you are loved by your students and their families. They love you for coming to their games. They love you for coming to their concert. They love you for just being there when they are hurting. They love you for how you have cared for their child.

Friends, we know that hurt still continues, but we have a hope that helps us continue in life and in ministry.


*This post was written by my very good friend/pastor/my groomsmen/college roommate who is the Student Ministries Director at Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Long Beach, CA. He is one of my favorite people on this earth and you can follow him on Twitter @wernerramirez 

Insta-Life Series

December 26, 2012 — 1 Comment


This had to be one of my favorites series that we have come up with so far. Because Instagram is such a huge thing for students, we thought this would be the perfect way to use whats hot in the app store and bring it to life as talk about how God is working in our lives. Below are parts we used to speak to our students during the series: teaching illustrations, games, and what we wanted students to get our of the weekend services. Hope this is of some help!

Series Arc:

InstaLife: Jealousy – Wanting Someone Else’s Username:Being jealous shows that we are not satisfied with what God has given us, that what we have is not enough. The Bible tells us that we need to be content with what we have because God would never forsake us and leave us with nothing. In order to go head to head with jealousy we need to become more like Jesus and less like ourselves. We need to stop wanting and ogling what everyone else posts through Instagram.

InstaLife: Being Fake – Look Behind the Filter:We post pictures online for everyone to see. We will post pictures on this app to allow other people to get a little glimpse into our lives. Many post pictures of the life they wish they had or pictures from only the good parts, giving the false perception to everyone who sees it thinking that you are just fine and dandy when in reality you are truly hurting. It is time to stop pretending that everything is okay and come to Jesus get out from behind the filter.

Games: The game is simple – someone turns over control of their Instagram account to the host of the show, who is then given permission to do whatever they want in exchange for prizes. In this case we used the Wheel of Destiny to let it randomly choose what would happen. Some of the options included:

  • deleting 10 random friends
  • trolling someone’s profile (aka liking all of one person’s pictures)
  • posting a picture of another girl in the room and tagging it #newgirlfriend
  • $5 to Starbucks
  • become Instafamous – everyone in the room takes out their phone to follow them
  • Week-long hack – the phone stays logged in and randomly in the week we hack them again
  • … and many more!

We had previously hooked up an iPhone to our main screen using an Apple TV so the whole experience was sick and flawless technically, too. Oh and also painful … and hilarious. The students who played along were good sports and hosts were loving but ruthless. Another epic game we’ll for sure use in the future, too!


Sermon Illustration:

20121217-105343During the message our team made a real life Instagram picture on stage in front of the students eyes (picture above) and talked about how we try to make the perfect picture to portray to everyone else when sometimes our real lives are not doing too hot. We explained how God can see through the “filters” we put up and just wants us as we are, right now, with no filter. How he wants authentic and real, not posed and faked. So the above picture we brought in items one by one to make “the ultimate picture”. Then explained how that was not our real selves and God wants us #nofilter, just as we are.

It was powerful, and you can see it in the eyes of the students as they were convicted because they know they do this every time they post a picture online.

You can download the series notes for cheap HERE.

*The game description was taken from because he had already explained the game perfectly.


We have an amazing student band here at HSM. Taffy, our student music director, does an amazing job training and raining up some amazing worship leaders. They went into the studio and recorded some songs for everyone to download for free.

So click on the banner below and download the songs and enjoy!



Merry Christmas everyone. I’m going to give us all a gift and not post anything really that is helpful. I just want all you to know I will be praying for you and your ministry and I hope your Christmas services reach the people that they need to reach and people come to know Jesus. We will continue posts on Wednesday.

As your gift I thought I would share some of my favorite Worship Leader and ministry memes that make me laugh. Enjoy.

Be sure to check out Worship Leader Memes and Youth Pastor Memes on Facebook.








I would love to hear your reasons on why you picked what you picked in the comments. Someone asked me this the other day and I thought it was an amazing question to dig down deep and think about what is most important.

Circle maker

When I was in Hawaii I read a lot. It’s one of my favorite things to do if I am just sitting by a pool or at the beach while I am getting my tan on. One of the books I read was “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson, it was all about prayer. Batterson focuses on how the promises in Scripture in which God speaks, go for us as well today and when we have a prayer and we attach it to a promise God made in scripture, God wants to answer it.

Now to be clear Batterson is not saying this a health and wealth idea, he is saying that we need to have faith that God still answers His promises in amazing ways, in His time and way. A prayer can be answered in a day, exactly how we prayed it or it could take years and in a way that we would never have even thought, or not in our life time even. He simply suggests we have faith and have that much faith in God that He still works in awesome and mysterious ways. We look at the promises God made to Joshua (many about him and his people) “Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled (Joshua 41:7). Our prayers need to be honoring to God, we need to be right with God in bringing our prayers to Him for Him to move in them: “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

One of the main lines of the book is: Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers.

Circling your prayer is constantly praying, genuinely praying, with God’s will in mind for your life and even when things are hard, you pray through until God comes through like He does in Scripture.

It just got me thinking about my prayers and the prayer I have for my life. What prayers have I circled in my life for and my ministry and my family? Are they bold or are they safe? Batterson says one of the most dangerous prayers you can ever pray is “God, amaze and perplex me.” This has been my prayer and I already see my faith being tested and solidified, but I have this promise which I have circled along with all my prayers as I try to follow God the best I can:

Proverbs 1:33- But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”

James 1:12- Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

It is not going to be easy at all. But I have these promises and I have this amazing peace as I step out in faith. This book is amazing and I recommend it greatly. It also said that one way you can begin in circling prayer is making a list consisting of things your want to see happen in your personal life, ministry, family, and life in general. When you write down your goals it is the beginning in circling them in prayer and helps you know when/if ever a prayer is answered. So I thought I would list mine out.

Now I’m not trying to show off or brag, I am being very transparent here and wrote down my actual prayers for my life and the ministry in which I serve in so I ask for respect for my real prayers, but I wrote down my list to share and this is to keep me accountable to I hope to see all of these accomplished and answered in the future. Each prayer is a step out in faith in some way for me. Some seem petty, some seem impossible and that is okay, go get the book and go into more detail about what this entails, but I love it and it got me thinking about my prayers in my life. There is more but I write this list the other day while it was fresh in my mind.

things I HAve Circled in Prayer:

  • Go on a one year anniversary trip with Kristin
  • Make top 25 youth ministry blogs
  • Get some writing published
  • Write for MTB/YM360
  • Guest host Youth Ministry Garage/Simply Youth Ministry Show to help other pastors
  • Write 21 Day Prayer Guide for Students (currently working on)
  • Write a book
  • Go beach camping with friends
  • Join a couples small group that Kristin and I both feel God appointed
  • Go back to Hawaii with Kristin
  • Cage shark diving with Kristin
  • Go to Catalina with Kristin
  • Have 1000 people come to Ignite
  • Have 20 churches involved with Ignite
  • Do a combined something in ministry with Adam Knowles (my brother)
  • Reach 2000 on a weekend service in HSM (shows students are bringing friends to hear the Gospel)
  • Baptize 100 students in 2013
  • Reach 1400 students in Life groups in 2013
  • Be at a single church serving for 20 years
  • Get my MDiv
  • Get my Doctorate
  • Have HSM be 10 days ahead in planning consistently
  • Coach my kids sports teams
  • Buy a house
  • Increase tithe to 12%
  • Finish my left arm half sleeve tattoo
  • Have students over for dinner once a month
  • Read through the Bible in a year
  • Run a half marathon
  • Be 10% body fat


So I just went to Hawaii on my honeymoon. Let’s just say it was incredible and I do not want to make you jealous, but 10 days in Kauai and Maui is the way to go. What I do hope what happens is that you get the itch to get away for a bit. Since I got to Saddleback, I have had time off, but this was my first “real long” time off that I have had and it was incredible. I literally turned off my phone (when was the last time you have done that for an extended period of time?), had no agenda, read a ton, got away and didn’t think about work.

Here is what I learned about my time away and why it was so important for me:

You get to refuel: I have never felt more energized as I do right now. Spending time, uninterrupted with my wife is such a blessing. I turned off my email. I didn’t go on Facebook, I only used my phone as a map. I got to sit, relax, and read a ton of books. I got to have some great fun, some things that I love to do….like eat, hike, and go on some adventures (kayaking, zip-lining, etc.) It’s amazing how much your realize how draining having constant emails, texts, voice mails, and meetings can be and to be able to turn it completely off is amazing. If you have trouble doing this while you are not in your office, you might need to have a vacation more than ever then because that is a problem. Get away, refuel.

You have to plan ahead: I was going to be gone for 12 days so that means I needed to make sure all of my duties were going to be taken care of. It caused me to look ahead 2 weeks and get my mind around what is going to need to happen while I’m gone. To be very clear in my direction and vision for the weekends so when we had our meeting the week before I left, I came in with guns blazing with ideas and our weekend team drew out the weekends on the whiteboards in detail. This got us 2 weeks ahead, which we have not been, and it allows us room to work from this point on. Hopefully we can keep up this momentum. It set us up to stay ahead in our weekend planning of services.

It allows others to step up: It is my responsibility that our weekends, all of the moving parts, come together to make one awesome service. Since I was going to be gone, it allowed other members of the weekend team to step up and take charge and lead these weekends. And honestly, they killed it. I came back just for the last weekend in our series and was blown away by what our team did. It was way better than what we originally planned in the first place and the series was probably one of my favorites and best ones we have done yet… and I wasn’t even there to over see it! The team stepped up in huge ways and now it has revealed to me what our team can do and I am excited to see what can come out of this for the future. Sometimes you have to get away and get out-of-the-way to allow the people around you to step up and dominate and see what they can do.

So… get away. For you, for your team, for your ministry. It’s healthy on all accounts!

Ministry Idea: Photo Wall

December 18, 2012 — 2 Comments


This is our photo wall as you walk towards our high school meeting room. It is literally full of pictures of our students from every event that we do and also from some of our services. We try to make sure we have a camera everywhere we go so we can continually update this wall. It’s pretty easy to make as well. We had a wall with nothing on it, that looked boring and we developed a whole bunch of pictures, got an easy stick spray from Micheal’s Arts & Crafts and started to post them. Here is why I like it:

It’s easy:  If you have a space in which you can do this, take advantage. We had a wall, we had tons of pictures, and it relatively cheap.

Students love it: They really do. I can’t tell you a time where I do not look over at it before or after service in which a student is looking at all of the pictures. It’s like a real life Instagram wall that gets updated with new pictures every time we do something. They are always trying to find the new ones that we put up.

New people get a glimpse of your ministry: Seeing a bunch of pictures can tell the story of your ministry before you even meet a new person. A new student can take one look at the photo wall and tell them what you do as a ministry for fun, in serving, what services look like, what events you do. They might even tell if they will like it or not, who knows. But its the first glimpse into your ministry, it could be your biggest advertisement.

It seems to work for us, maybe could be a good idea for you? Try it out and let me know.

Our Faith

December 17, 2012 — Leave a comment

We all have something we want to accomplish. We all have goals, ideas and we are always told to dream big, but where is the line between just saying it and actually making it a reality?

I cant even tell you how many times I have heard, “Just have faith” come out of someone’s mouth. But sometimes its harder than it sounds because of the situation we are going through at the time. I do believe that “having faith” is essential in our walk with Jesus, but having faith and showing that you have it are two completely different things. Anyone can say, “I have faith”, but if we are not ready to prove that we do, what good is it anyway?

My good friend Jarrid Wilson wrote, “Sometimes having faith means engaging in something so bold that you will end up looking stupid if Jesus doesn’t come through. Ultimately, hearing the Word initiates faith; speaking the Word activates faith; doing the Word demonstrates faith.”

Reflect on some of these passgaes:

2 Corinthians 5:7-We live by faith, not by sight.

Romans 10:17-Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

James 2:17- So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it it dead and useless.

End with reading all of Hebrews 11:1-39

Today spend a few minutes to pray for:

  • Your own faith. Ask God to reveal where your faith is at at this point in your life.
  • Your faith not just being something you say you have, but something that you can prove to others.
  • Ask God where in your life your faith needs to be seen in action and not just in talk.
  • Ask where in your life do you need to have complete faith in Jesus and you will look like a fool if Jesus doesn’t come through.
  • Pray for the courage to do whatever that thing is.