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About Jeff Schmitz

I've been with Joppa young adult ministry (under the YFC umbrella in Willmar) for nine years. Current chaplain at United Campus Ministry across from Ridgewater College in Willmar. Child of God. Writer. Rapper. Local Hero. Simple dude trying to glow in the dark.

Optional vs Essential

The following are some soul-stirring thoughts from JR Vassar’s sermon, “Exhortations From a Departing Pastor, Part 2.

“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.” – CS Lewis

The danger is we would search for ultimate happiness outside of God. We give our attention to the trivial. We cannot put ultimate weight into things that will not last. When we put God first, everything else will be put in it’s proper order.

“In a superflat culture where nothing matters, we escape into obsessions and hobbies, interests that bear little ultimate consequence. In a commodified culture, we move and shift around meaning, giving weight to things that do not deserve mountains of time and attention.”

“The twenty-first century will be a century marked by conspicuous consumption but also a flagrant misuse of time. With religion off the agenda, our culture finds new avenues of devotion and distraction. Instead of moving us toward relationship and people, the immanent, superflat culture pushes us toward things. …Millions of hours in the twenty-first century will be spent working through DVD TV series, scanning social network sites, gorging on celebrity gossip, downloading music, flipping through home magazines, and playing computer games.

Things will take precedence over people. Meaningless activities will overtake our lives. There is nothing wrong with interests and hobbies in their right place, but the twenty-first-century culture will gorge on such activities. The real issues of human existence that have sat front and center of human consciousness have in the superflat, immanent world been shoved aside. They are too heavy to be carried on the road. Instead we buzz across the surface of life, never venturing below the surface.” – Mark Sayers, The Road Trip

How do you spend your time? How do you spend your resources? How intentional are you with the things that matter, the things that you love?

Without intentionality, your free time will flow to the trivial. Your free time will feed your addictions and your weaknesses, and your will make the optional things in your life essential, and you will make the essential things in your life optional. This will sabotage your life (and possibly others’ lives) and your ultimate joy.

Your ultimate and eternal joy comes from Christ alone. He has to be our deepest reality, and our task is to show people how good God is and to seek to win people over to Jesus.

Jesus Gump?

I’m currently reading a book called Who Is This Man? The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus by John Ortberg. Aside from having longwinded titles, I like Ortberg’s work.

The following section struck me as I read it tonight when referring to why Jesus seems to be the centerpiece of human history. Why does Jesus stand first?

Why?

Maybe because of its timing. Maybe Jesus was just a sympathetic figure who happened to come along when Roman infrastructure was good and Greek philosophy was undermining the gods, when paganism was dying and social systems were collapsing when stability was down and anxiety was up and gullibility was strong and… it was just dumb luck. May Jesus was a kind, simple, innocent soul with a good mom and a knack for catchy sayings who showed up in the right place at the right time. Jesus Gump. Maybe his place in history is a remarkable accident. 

But maybe it isn’t.  

That whole “…maybe it isn’t” cannot be ignored. If the life and timing of Jesus is more than a remarkable accident, if there’s even a remote chance of “…maybe it isn’t,” you would be so incredibly foolish to never investigate this man and what he says.

Godly Men

There is a great need in this generation to have men step up with their roles in their families, in their work places and in the church. In this era of extended adolescence, where too many men are men merely by age and not by actions and maturity, there is a necessity to reach out and help them grow.

Many young men are content to waste their lives consuming video game thrills, pornography addictions and whatever else can please their glands and satiate their ego without risking anything or venturing any commitment. The result of this fake-manliness is broken families, neglected responsibilities, and a decline in leadership in families, community and the church. It’s like the backbone has been removed from our culture.

I realize a few selections of sermon audio won’t change everything, but these teachings have really helped me change how I think, act and live. Maybe someone reading this may need to hear something these wise men have to say.

2nd Shift: JR Vassar
A series of three great talks by a man I greatly admire. I am in debt to JR Vassar and his preaching.

Nurturing Contentment: Beau Hughes
I’ve referenced this message in numerous messages I’ve given in the past year and a half. Men need to understand that they are more than their accomplishments or failures. They need to realize that true contentment can only be found in Christ alone.

Making the Most of Your Mission: Adam Thomason
Adam gave this message at a singles retreat following the message by Beau Hughes, and it really inspired me, and pounded home the point of getting myself lined up if I’m going to invite one of God’s daughters to do life with me.

Intentional Singleness: JR Vassar
Another selection from JR that encourages people to not waste their years of singleness on vanity, but rather prepare for marriage and do what the Lord has called them to do in that time.

Hope these resources help. God bless.

Hyper-Sexual Society

As I write this, the number one song on Billboard’s Top 100 is “Whistle,” by Flo Rida. It’s about oral sex, although a blogger has a humorous take on an alternative meaning for the song.

It’s nothing new. In recent pop music, Lil Wayne won a Grammy for his song “Lollipop” a few years ago. Pop music markets sex. It’s no shock or surprise. It’s been happening for decades. We let it happen because we buy it.

Advertisers target the demographic group of young adults and teens because they account for a large portion of American consumer spending. Many have their own money from working jobs through high school, or their parents’ money to help keep them in the latest trends and whatever’s cool.

I came across this piece by Claire E Dreissen from a 2005 research paper that goes into great depth on the topic of sex and advertising and how it targets the youth. It’s intentional. It’s manipulative. It’s calculated and soulless. Companies hire “cool hunting” firms to specifically and calculatingly bombard our teens and young adults with sexual imagery.

The following is from a post originally from 2002 by Lindsye Forson.

Leading the pack in explicit advertising is clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch. In their latest 2002 “XXX” catalog, it has been reported that 121 of its 280 pages show suggestive photographs which depict sexuality in many different forms, ranging from nudity to near orgies. In addition, the pages that do show clothing advertise clothes that are not for sale. It seems clear that Abercrombie is advertising something, but it certainly is not clothes. Instead, they appear to be advertising a lifestyle. A&F spokesman Hampton Carney said of the catalog, “It’s all part of the college experience . . . a commentary on college life.”

Continuing…

For example, A&F has come out with a line of thong underwear that is sold in its Abercrombie Kids’ stores, targeting 7 to 14 year-old children. As if selling thongs to children is not bad enough, printed conspicuously on the underwear are provocative phrases such as “wink, wink” and “eye candy.” Objectionable advertising is one thing, but pushing adult sexuality on an innocent 7-year-old child is another.

I was listening to JR Vassar give a message on Hyper-Reality, and he cited an interesting article. Recently, Disney and Forever 21 gave Minnie Mouse a makeover, to which The Disney Chick blog gave some awesome commentary:


According to Disney Consumer Products
, the new style “is fresh and portrays Minnie Mouse in a way no one has ever seen her before, leggy, modern and glamorous.”

Continuing…

Sorry, but “Minnie Mouse Off to the Runway” looks like she is on her way back from getting wasted at a Fashion Week after party. The crooked bow, the heavy lids, the off-kilter stance – you’ve been doing something naughty, haven’t you, Minnie? (Ew.) And is she not wearing any pants? Did they actually go so far as to give Minnie white legs? (Minnie, being a mouse, would actually have black legs to match her face.) Or are they supposed to be leggings, which are never - never - an acceptable substitute for pants, and no “glamorous” women would ever wear them as such?

And she goes on…

More distressing, this incarnation of Minnie removes the “mouse” entirely. Apparently no one at Disney or Forever 21 realized that the reason no one has ever seen Minnie as being “leggy” before is because SHE IS A MOUSE. Humans have long leggy legs. Mice do not. Mice-people are creepy.

I could write a whole separate post on the problem that Leggy Modern Glamorous Minnie Mouse poses in the message she sends to her target audience, mainly impressionable tweenage girls. The stick-insect legs, the heavy makeup, the stilettos – the next thing you know, Minnie will be hanging out with Jessica Rabbit and smoking cigarettes behind the school with the Bratz dolls.

We already live in an embellished society, air-brushed and digitally-edited, destroying all objective reality, and creating a hyper-reality full of hyper-sexuality. The line from true to false and real to imaginary is blurry at best. And we’re marketing it to our kids.

Our magazines are full of “physically flawless” women. It becomes our cultural standard to what a woman should aspire to physically. Women hold them as the goal. Men hold them as their objects to attain and conquer, while “normal” women can only dream of competing.

Sex has been belittled into experiences to enjoy and then top. Get what you want from a person and then dispose of them for the next rush. It’s marketed to us that way. Sex between one man and one women in the union of marriage is viewed as archaic and naive. We have diminished the bond-strengthening purpose of sex and made it a disposable product. We have a culture that preys on our consumerism and offers us temporary saviors from our emptiness, causing us always to go after the next hit of temporary fulfillment.

I’m tired of this. It’s purposely targeting your kids. I have to ask a few questions: Where do we go from here? and What are we going to do about it?

The Wish List

With a limited budget for United Campus Ministry (the ministry that operates across the street from Ridgewater College), we could use some help with some things:
Food:
Pizza (I’ve been getting some good deals on Papa Murphy’s lately, and pizza is the universal food of college.)
Sandwich meat
Bread
Burgers/hot dogs
Prepared meals (Eventually, even college students, and the people who minister to them, get tired of pizza.)
Things to keep food in:
A freezer
A mini fridge

My goal is to serve a free lunch on Tuesdays from 11am – 1pm, and I’ve begun to inform the football team of this already. Food, and the capability to have extra, just in case, is helpful. Also, I have had more than a few young men come in with no food at all, and no transportation to get to the Food Shelf, so having extra on site is a great advantage.

Things to eat that food with:
Paper towels
Paper plates

We do have actual plates and silverware, but for larger groups, disposable items tend to be easier.

Bibles to hand outWe handed out 65+ on the first day of school. I’ve handed out more since, and much to my delight, more requests are coming. New believer bibles are ideal. They often have commentaries to help explain the finer details of the text. 
Printer Ink (Lexmark 28 and 29)
Printer paper
Washer/Dryer:
A lot of the students are paying a lot of money to do laundry. This could be a huge blessing and outreach opportunity. I have talked with many students and they have expressed this huge need. 
Push snow blower/or someone to clear our lot
With a limited budget, it’d be nicer to spend it on ministry instead of snow removal. It saves me from shoveling the whole thing, or paying extra to have someone else come in and plow us out. 

God bless you for reading this list, if you’re interested in contributing anything: finances, items, or manpower, email jeffreyaschmitz@yahoo.com or mail contributions to United Campus Ministry, 2100 15th Ave NW, Willmar, MN 56201.

August 26, 2012

Here’s a little slice of what may be shared in my presentation at Raymond Reformed Church in Raymond, Minnesota this morning.

“People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” – D.A. Carson, For the Love of God

This world is discipling our young adults, and it takes no effort for it to do so. It essentially happens as easily as breathing in and out. We are immersed in the culture, and it teaches us the ways of the world.

As Christians, we are also called to discipleship. From Matthew 28: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…”

Christian discipleship takes so much more effort. And intentionality. And sacrifice. And help. It’s a constant denial of one’s self to help another person grow closer to the Lord.

Young adult ministry needs to happen at Ridgewater and in the Willmar area. There are thousands of young men and women that attend courses at the college, and very few of them have an active faith in Jesus Christ. Are you okay with that? There are tons of young adults just drifting in your community, bouncing from temporary savior to temporary savior. They are hurting themselves and others along the way. Drifting. Are you okay with that? Are we okay with that?

We need older generations to buy in. With their prayer life. With their time and energy. With their finances. We need examples of godliness. We need people to care about young adults. Specifically at the Campus Ministry Center, we need funding to keep the lights on and the ministry staffed.

These young adults are future leaders – of families, of workplaces, communities, of states, of nations. What foundation do we long for them to have? A foundation that will crumble? A foundation that looks out for itself and is selfish? Or do we want them to have a godly foundation that loves the Lord and serves the people around them unselfishly and lovingly?

This doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a community of believers to buy in and help out. Pray for the college students at Ridgewater and those who minister to them. Pray for the people of the Joppa ministry and those who lead and minister in that area.

Active

“People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” - D.A. Carson, For the Love of God

For as busy as we are in the western culture, we often are quite idle when it comes to cultivating our faith. We think it’s a nice thing to have, we just don’t want to sacrifice our time or effort to see it grow. We want quick fixes and get-rich-quick faith. As a result, many people simply do nothing. They drift and essentially quit.

If you want concrete to harden, all you do is simply stop stirring it. If you want your heart to harden, you do simply stop doing anything. If you simply do nothing, your heart will harden. It takes effort not to harden. (Paraphrased from Geoff Ashley of the Village Church.)

Growing in faith takes effort. Grace-driven effort, not begrudging “I have to do this,” but rather getting caught up in the beauty of God, and longing to know him more and honor him. This means we need to do something and be active participants in what God is doing in our lives.

God is alive and active and he is calling us to be involved in what he’s doing within his creation.

Appearance vs Reality

Men often choose to have the appearance of godliness over actually living a life of godliness. They do good things to cover up for sinful hearts. Right mission, wrong heart. God requires a life of submission and repentance. Man’s power can conform people to a pattern of religion, but it cannot transform their hearts. Man’s power can rally men to a cause, but it cannot transform men’s hearts. It’s empty actions towards just causes. In order for hearts to be transformed you need the Holy Spirit, you need God and his mercy to extend grace.

There’s a fancy word that comes with choosing to go through actions that you don’t mean, it’s called “hypocrisy.” In the area of faith, it’s deadly to one’s growth and daily walk. It hardens the heart, it should bother the mind, and it turns away others. If we were playing Family Feud, hypocrisy would land solidly in the top three reasons why people don’t go to church regularly, or why they leave the church.

If we’re merely putting forth an image and not walking out faith as our deepest reality, at the end of the day, it’s not going to inspire others to do the same, it’s going to turn them away from the faith you claim to possess. It’s playing church.

As Matt Chandler, a pastor at the Village Church in the D-FW area of Texas puts it, “Church is a dumb hobby.”

Don’t just go through the motions with your faith. Think about what a godly life looks like, what a difference a personal relationship with Jesus Christ would mean, and how that may change things in your everyday life.