The New Me: Part 7, “The Woodsman”

Seven years.

What have you been doing for seven years?

For some activities it’s a long time; for others it’s merely a moment.

I’ve been serving at Bethel Baptist Church, Schaumburg Christian School, and Schaumburg Christian Day Camp for seven years and, in retrospect, it feels like the tick of the second-hand.

If’ you’ve been following the New Me Posts (which started with Part I back in May of 2012), you know I’ve been a busy boy for the past seven years. But all of that is coming to a God ordained close, and I’m excited to tell you about what’s happening next.

But, before I do . . . .

I’m not certain the best way to handle this next piece of information. It’s delicate, but yet necessary to the narrative of my life and this decision in the life of my family.

I need to tell you why we’re leaving my current ministry.

Continue reading “The New Me: Part 7, “The Woodsman””

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Weekend Update from AMBrewster: 5/23/14

Weekend Update

Friends,

Memorial Day weekend is busy for just about everyone.

But for the past six years, this weekend has been extra busy for me in a very different way.

This is the last year I will be Director at Schaumburg Christian Day Camp, and like every year before, I spend most of this weekend and all of next week scrambling to put the finishing details on the very robust and dynamic summer program we run.

With that said, I imagine that my posts here may be a little trim this coming week.

But once Day Camp is running like the summer-time-fun machine that it is, I will be back in full production here. In the meantime, please feel free to like our Evermind Ministries Facebook page and follow me on Twitter for daily encouragement, accountability, and introspection.

I would also love to hear from you about what God is doing in your life because of Taking Back the Bible or answer any questions you may have. You can email me at AMBrewster@EvermindMinistries.com.

Thank you for your loyal following, reading, and sharing as we attempt to fulfill Christ’s lofty mission to make disciples for the King!

Always,

AMBrewster

Memorial Day

The New Me, Part 6: “The Counselor”

I wrote Part 5 of The New Me in May of 2012.

Over the summer I planned to write Part 6, detailing the new role I would assume in the fall.

I never wrote that post.

And now as I sit here in my office, I’m not sure if I should write about it.

The update I was going to write had to do with my then recent promotion to Dean of Students at Schaumburg Christian School. I was excited about the amazing opportunities God was going to give (and had already given) me in dealing with the students in that spiritually intimate way. My duty was to be the primary counselor in both preventative and corrective capacities for elementary through high school. Though there were hundreds of students in those grades, I can honestly say I was excited to no end at the opportunity.

And for the past two years that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

Has it been challenging? Definitely. I learned early, though, that corrective counseling should be a supreme joy because God had allowed the student’s sin to find him out, and now my Lord wants to use me as channel of truth in that child’s life. That’s exciting! So I can honestly say I have loved my job.

Now, if you’re a perceptive reader, you are probably sensing that my enigmatic introduction and this present-perfect-tense-type of talk may be foreshadowing a recent change. Oh, what a smart reader you are!

There have been some significant changes to my life direction over the past few months, and I plan to divulge that in Part 7! But before I depart this should-have-been-written-long-ago post, I do believe the Lord would be glorified if I shared some important lessons I’ve learned being the Dean of Students in a Christian school.

counsel

  1. We’re all “professional” counselors. Is it possible to study counseling as an occupation, be certified, and become a respected voice in the broader vocation known as counseling? Yes. But biblically speaking we are all called by God to admonish, reprove, correct, rebuke, edify, encourage, disciple, sharpen, and bear (I Thessalonians 5:14, II Timothy 4:2, I Timothy 5:20, I Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 3:13, Matthew 28:19, Proverbs 27:17, & Galatians 6:2 just to name a few). No one who calls himself a Christ-follower should ever feel unqualified to give counsel as long as he gives God’s truth from God’s Word. Too many times I find myself dealing with a student who has other spiritual authorities who’ve neglected their responsibilities. Don’t relegate counseling to your pastor or some other “professional.” Share God’s Word!
  2. We’re all in need of admonition. In the same way that we’re all called to be “professional” counselors, we’re all called to be counselees as well. None of us make perfectly sanctified decisions every day, all day. We all need men and women in our lives who’ll keep us accountable and to whom we can turn for God’s truth. You’re not the exception.
  3. Our opinion doesn’t matter. Don’t merely seek out those people who will agree with your decision. Skim the cream from men and women who (regardless of what they think about you or your decision) will share with you truth from the inscripturated word of God. Everyone has an opinion, and if they do not source their philosophies in the absolute Truth of God, then there’s no guessing where’s it’s coming from. Do you really want to ground your reality in Wikipedia, your friend’s capricious emotions, the Disney Channel, Snopes, or the ever-changing arena of humanistic philosophy? (Ephesians 4:14-15)
  4. God allows sin to destroy those He turns over to a reprobate mind. “Getting away” with sin is never what it seems. Your sin is always known to God, and it seems to me (from biblical, historical, and personal experience) that having your sin “find you out” earlier is ALWAYS better than later. Romans 1:18-32 details for us what happens to unsaved people whom God turns over to their sin. It’s not pretty. Get help early! The consequences are always more bearable in the spring of a sin season then they are in the winter.
  5. God chastens those He loves. When we’re caught in a sin, the temptation is to feel defensive. The authority is the antagonist, you’ve been caught, and will now have to suffer the terrible consequences. But in reality, Hebrews 12:6 and Revelation 3:19 tells us that God chastens those He loves. This means that chastening is a joyous thing designed to communicate God’s love for us. He knows our sin will destroy us, and He doesn’t want that to happen, so He allows our sin to find us out. We should be thankful for the men and women God tasks with being his Truth-channels. God hasn’t given up on us, has a wonderful plan for us, and is actively working in our lives to accomplish it!
  6. Mom and Dad need as much admonition as the children do. I know this is a cheap repeat of #2, but there’s something about being a parent that deceives us. Look, I’m a parent too. No one’s a perfect parent. And we’re not fooling anyone pretending to be. The only thing that keeps parents from acknowledging their own sins in childrearing is pride. When my children make bad choices, I always question myself first. Don’t misunderstand, they’re completely responsible to God for their own choices, but I always check myself to see if I’ve been a bad example, allowed certain behaviors to go unaddressed, or faltered in my discipling. And, believe it or not, when my children have regular sin problems . . . there’s always something I can do better. This is why there’s not a child I am blessed to work with that I don’t make the opportunity to speak with mom and dad.

I’m very much looking forward to writing Part 7 – about as much as I was looking forward to writing Part 6 two years ago. But hopefully it won’t take as long this time. :-)

#EvermindGodsTruth

A Quick Note Concerning a Piece of Wood

I received my 5 year plaque this evening at the high school graduation. It was nice, but the real significance for me is not the piece of wood with a professional engraving; the excitement I’ve been attempting to encapsulate over the past few posts has everything to do with experiences and opportunities God has graced me with in the past 5 years. I’ve been treasuring them in my heart as Mary treasured the Angel’s words, and now I desire greatly to share them with you.

I will be posting my final update in this “The New Me” series in a short while. First of all, this final post will not be a conclusion to the past five years, but one more amazing open door to start off the next five (or however many God has planned for me here). I cannot wait to share it with you! Second, I have far more important things to write about. We need to seriously get to return to taking back the Bible. :-) But as Part 6 of “The New Me” and the revival of this blog are so closely related . . . they must go hand in hand.

So check out all of “The New Me,” revel in the amazing grace of God that would take a sinful man and allow Him to be a channel for divine truth, and partner with me as I step out in faith on this new leg of my journey. I want so badly to walk with you as I dig deeper into what it means to be a believer. I hope you will come with me.

Always,
Aaron

Part 1

Part 2 – Theater with a Difference

Part 3 – Day Camp

Part 4 – A Christian Ninja

Part 5 – Student Leaders

Part 6 – The Counselor

The New Me: Part 5, “Student Leaders”

Welcome to Part 5 of The New Me. Get caught up on the rest of the story! Click to view Part 1, Part 2Part 3 & Part 4.

Two years had passed since I taught my first 6th grade class as SCS. But it was time to say goodbye to elementary. I found out over the summer that I would be moving up to the secondary level. I know not everyone agrees with me, but I love working with older kids. I find their reasoning skills are more defined, and they don’t always take everything at face value. If you’re not 100% genuine with them . . . they see it. I also have a burden for them because their level of independence is catching up with their decision-making abilities. If they do not have a firm foundation in God’s truth, they will flounder and fall once the world is turned loose on them. Side Note: You’re not turning your kids loose on the world. You’re sending them out into the battlefield. I guarantee you the Army didn’t send a bunch of new recruits to storm Osama Bin Laden’s bunker. The commanding officers knew the enemy would destroy them. So why do we send off our unprepared young people into the world as if the world is the one who should watch out?! But I digress.

My new semester lineup included JH Bible, JH Speech, 9th grade English, 11th grade Economics, SH Speech, and Yearbook. I also took on the upcoming 9th grade homeroom. As the year progressed I was reminded every day why I love my job. I had the opportunity to take things like diagramming sentences, Jevon’s principle of diminishing marginal utility, and proper voice projection and apply it directly to my students’ lives. God’s Word came alive in discussions of friendship, moral tone, insatiability, and persuasion. Side Note: If you can’t find God in the mundane, you will struggle to find Him anywhere.

This continued for 3 years, and every summer my school room became a camp ground. But during second semester of my 5th year (3rd year teaching high school), the Lord provided me with a new challenge. Our school, like every other, is full of sinners (we teachers are included). But for the most part, the teachers are the ones pointing the way up the path of righteousness, and there are always a core of students who want nothing to do with it. In fact, they are setting up neon signs pointing down the opposite way. Human nature being what it is, who do the fence-sitting students want to be like? Do they want to emulate their teachers . . . or their friends? So, every day the students become more like each other in the giant cookie-cutter factory. Of course, you’re wondering “What about those kids who genuinely love the Lord and want to serve Him?” I have two questions for you: 1. Where you that kid? 2. How were you treated? I think we adults become senile a lot earlier than we believe when we allow ourselves to think that the scorners in our schools aren’t tearing down our kids left, right, and center. Once again, let’s use the Army metaphor. These new recruits know they want to serve their country, but they have no idea how to fight. If the enemy infiltrates the ranks, there is little hope.

So, how do you help the problem? Train the soldiers with a sense of urgency! I had the idea to start developing student leaders by instituting a Student Body Council program. We had a quasi-student leadership program before but it had deteriorated into a popularity contest between which heathen and which pagan had the most friends. Side Note: If your students leaders aren’t outspoken testimonies for Christ . . . they shouldn’t be student leaders.

Please don’t misunderstand me. No one is perfect. I have seen my fair share of college Prayer Captains, high school Student Body Presidents, and (dare I say) church pastors do one thing or another to disqualify them from their position. But that doesn’t mean we throw the baby out with the proverbial bath water. I say, “No!” We don’t give up discipling because we know they’ll never be perfect!

My plan behind the SBC was four-fold: 1. Give the students visible and productive roles within the school in order to be a good example. 2. Allow the students to suggest and even enact change that would help our school conform to God’s will for us. 3. To teach the students how to handle themselves like adults. Teach them to run meetings, vote, brain-storm, and produce a quality product without being harassed or cajoled by an authority figure. 4. Disciple them. I desired to use this council as an opportunity to find those God-loving young people and work with them one-on-one to become true leaders for Christ.

The student body was started and I have to say that our first experimental semester went very well, and I am looking forward to next year’s council. I’m also excited about some of the SBC’s summer projects!

But this service opportunity quickly shot off another tendril of service opportunities. Side Note: Do what God calls you to do and watch the opportunities multiply! I can’t actually remember how I got it into my head, but I was inspired in part by a friend. Yohannan Lee works at SCS in the kitchen, but he also is a tremendous help to me when it comes to Yearbook. Yo, is a gifted photographer and graphic designer. He created five of our Yearbook covers, takes tons of photos, Photoshops them all, and loves every minute of it. He is also a videographer. It just so happens that photography, graphic design, and videography are some of my passions as well.

Before long he and I created Student Body Films to function as our production company. We also founded Three Hands Studios to handle the technical side. In that first semester the Lord allowed us to produce the following projects and start our own YouTube channel.

The first was delivered by our Student Body President as a way to introduce the new SBC and to tell the student body a little bit about how she viewed her school

The second was just for fun. Our basketball teams were both competing in the Illinois state IACS competition and we wanted to liven things up a bit.

Our third and longest project was designed to help our junior highers as they prepared for the state fine arts tournament.

The final finished project promoted our school play, Anne of Green Gables.

The overall goal is to help the student leaders have an impact far beyond the four wall of their school. We want to show the other students that they can make a difference for Christ if they just try. So far these few videos have been watched over 2,500 in over 20 countries. Next fall we will focus on more educational and spiritual projects as well as the occasional entertaining film.

Side Note: Never be ambitious for power and glory. But don’t pass on opportunities to widen your circle of influence. When He was bodily on earth, Jesus had hundreds of disciples, 12 apostles, 3 in His inner circle, and 1 who was considered the closest to Him (note that I did not say favorite). You don’t have to be intimate with everyone, but if you can write a book, keep up a blog, post videos on YouTube, or preach to people who most individuals will never have the chance to meet . . . then do it!

Pray for our student leaders. If God can capture their hearts and train them to serve Him with all of their minds, bodies, and strength they will be a powerful enemy against Satan and his destructive purposes. Train up the children!

The New Me: Part 4, “A Christian Ninja”

The first year I was at Bethel Baptist Church my responsibilities seemed to change with the seasons. Actually, “change” isn’t the right word. Perhaps the best word is “grew.” Fall ’07: 6th grade teacher. Summer ’08: 6th grade teacher and Camp Director. Fall ’08: 6th grade teacher and Camp Director and Martial Arts Instructor.

I started training in Tang Soo Do in 1992. I earned my first black belt in ’98. This year (2012) marked my 20th year in the martial arts. I’ve been teaching for 17 years, I’ve studied 10 different styles, and I’ve earned black belts in 3 of those styles. I am currently working toward my 5th degree in Tiger Ryu Ninjutsu. SCS knew all about my training, and we talked briefly when I was hired about the possibility of starting a program. I didn’t think it would happen for a loooooong while. Seriously, what Christian school has their own karate program? As Day Camp wound down and my second year of teaching grew near, one of the pastoral staff members got it in his head that I needed to start a martial arts program that fall! By God’s grace, in one month I went from nothing to a full-on curriculum. During the day I taught my new brood of 6th graders, and after school I ran over to the gym to meet my “little ninjas.” Of course, our curriculum has changed many times over the past years, but I thank the Lord that when my first students walked in the door they were greeted by a no-holds-barred, full-scale martial arts program. Side note: There are some things that don’t need to be prayed about. If there is a need, and God has gifted you in that area . . . fill the need!

I spoke with my pastor and told him I expected about 40 students. God gave me 80. With twice as many students, my wife was able to quit her job and stay home full-time with our son. God also gave me a student who would be intregal in running a successful school. She was brand new to the martial arts, but she wanted to earn her black belt in two years (she was a junior and would be graduating and going off to college). I told her that it was possible, but that I would have to ninja-kick her all the way. She said she was up for it. Two years later she earned her black belt and made a successful assistant instructor along the way (otherwise it was just me and 80 students!). I am very proud of Madelyn and her martial arts career.

The best thing about the program is that I can unashamedly preach God’s Word during the classes. We meet in a beautiful room off the school’s running track and everyone knows that we are as Christian as the church. In fact, it’s not simply a karate class, it is a Leadership Program. My students know that they are there to learn how to protect themselves and the ones they love from physical and spiritual harm. I have seen many young people develop and mature as they learn to discipline their minds, bodies, and souls. Side Note: If you’re not teaching God in all you teach, you’re teaching a world that works without God. When you do that . . . you lie.

Every year I have had more students than I can handle, and every year God allows the program to mature. One of the reasons I consider myself to be so blessed is that God has given me a place to serve that allows me to utilize the various passions I have. God allowed me to have many unique experiences growing up in order to make me the man He wanted me to be. Now He’s given me an outlet and said, “It’s time to start using those skills I gave you.”

Just one calendar year later and I found myself loving my job and basking in the glory that was serving God.

Amazingly enough, He had even more changes and opportunities for service already prepared for me. Stay tuned to Part 5.

If you missed Part 1, Part 2,or Part 3 of The New Me. Just click away!

The New Me: Part 3, “Summer Officially Starts at Day Camp”

When June 1st rolled around I had successfully finished my first year as a 6th grade teacher, but as a twelve-month staff member my duties for the year had not ended. I was assigned to work with the maintenance crew for the summer. I thoroughly enjoyed myself that first month, and the school gained a whole bunch of new lights! I also learned some great skills, and I made one really good friend. Thanks Stephen Doney for your lasting friendship!

But maintenance was not what God had planned for me the rest of the summer. About 25 years earlier the church has started a Day Camp program. Since then it had passed through the capable hands of numerous men. God had chosen that in 2008 I would be the next.

Schaumburg Christian Day Camp has become one of my most enjoyable duties. I graduated from Bob Jones with a Camp Ministries major, so being able to us what I learned has been fantastic, but I really enjoy having a lasting impact on the lives of my staff and campers. Originally I thought God wanted me working some place like the Wilds. I counseled there for two summers and loved every game, camper, flu, rain drop, trial, stair, and meal. The staff was integral in helping me align my life with God’s will. But I went into Christian schooling because I realized the one relationship that I enjoyed most in the camp environment was the relationship between the camp director and the counselors. The campers came and went faster than a game of Big Ball Volleyball, but those men and women had such a profound affect on me. I wanted to be able to do that for others, but I thought I had a better chance being a school teacher (once again, a job with long-term relationships) than I becoming a camp director. After my first year of teaching . . . I became a camp director too.

My goal through this camp has been to create something far more than mere child care. I want the campers to have an enriching experience. I want them to have a place to go where they can learn, have fun, and grow. But most importantly, I want a place where the children are being watched by men and women who genuinely love them and want the best for them. I want the counselors to help the campers see God in every moment, activity, conflict, and blessing. I want the campers to see how Christians live and breathe. God has given me hundreds of little lives to point toward Him. Thank you, Lord!

If you’d like to learn more about SCDC, just follow the link!

Quick Note

You can now follow me on Twitter @AMBrewster. I pray I can be an encouragement to you!

The New Me: Part 2, “Theater with a Difference”

Shortly after arriving in Illinois in ’07, I was cornered by two different people about checking out Overshadowed Theatrical Productions. I appreciated their invitation as I had spent some time on stage and enjoyed it immensely. Unfortunately, I had to postpone my introduction. I wanted to make sure I was doing my new job well and I knew I didn’t need any distractions.

But it didn’t take long before my 6th grade class was well in hand and the drive to revisit the stage started to simmer in my limbs. I saw one of the Bible plays they produced and enjoyed it immensely. Shortly thereafter I found they would be performing Arsenic and Old Lace. I loved the movie growing up, the main character shared my namesake, and I wanted my introduction to this theater company to be fun and light-hearted. I auditioned. I got the part.

This post is not going to be a retrospective of the shows I’ve done at Overshadowed, but I need to mention this segment of my life as it has opened countless opportunities for service that I would never have had. Theater is a powerful medium because stories are one of God’s chosen ways of revealing truth. Just like books, movies, and television, theater has the potential to mold a generation. Any time the Lord hands you such a powerful tool, you’d better use it! Overshadowed’s (OTP) goal is to offer family friendly entertainment. Half of the shows they do are classics and the other half are Bible based. Most of the productions that I’ve been on stage for were stories straight from the pages of Scripture or scripts with a biblical theme. We have performed the same shows multiple times over the course of a year both in-house and as a travel team to churches.

Acting has always been a passion of mine because communication is so seminal to relationships. I teach speech for this very reason. As a side note, Christians must be very careful what theater companies they work with. The World and the flesh are both alive and active in their allegiance to the “roaring lion” who wants nothing more than our destruction. A cast builds such camaraderie that sinful relationships can easily sprout in such an environment. But performing with Christians (though not a sinless environment) definitely has its accountability.

During my years performing for OTP I have had the glorious opportunity to depict our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The first time was for a Passion play called God’s Masterpiece. I tore apart the gospels like never before in an attempt to understand Who He was. Playing Jesus is IMPOSSIBLE. I might accidentally play George Washington correctly. We are both finite, created beings, but it is completely impossible for a mortal to perfectly portray the God of the universe. It is the “impossible role.” Not improbable. Impossible. But I endeavored to do my best. People would stop me and almost offer their condolences that I had to undertake such a weighty part. My wife told me (had she been a man) that she would never have accepted the role. It was grueling. Not only were there those excited to see the play, but I had a contingency of people who thought that having anyone play Christ at all was unwise at best and sinful at worst.

It was a challenging time to say the least, but the watershed arrived during a cast meeting when I shared the following with my fellow actors: I told them that I had been spending so much time “getting inside Jesus’ head” through my study of the gospels – trying to grasp why He did what He did, said what He said, and discern the way He did it all – that I stumbled upon a realization. I’m a Christian . . . that’s my job anyway! What man or woman who claims to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ does not have the responsibility to walk like Him, talk like Him, and love like Him? It was so extremely refreshing! I say this tongue in cheek, but I think everyone should have to play Jesus at least once in their life if that’s what it takes to waken them up to their responsibility for divine-immitation.

Playing Jesus has helped me see many things about my Lord I never really noticed before and I believe it has better suited me to the tasks He has for my life. His compassion was perfectly balanced by His passion. His love was perfectly balanced by His justice. He was just that . . . balanced. He knew exactly what was perfectly necessary in every situation. I cannot be omniscient, but I can study and look and observe in an attempt to respond correctly to the situations I’m presented with.

This slice of my life is being called “Life with a Difference” and it has a large part to do with my experiences at the Theater with a Difference. We must live deliberately like Jesus Christ. If we do not live differently we cannot make a difference.

The New Me: Part 1

I won’t waste digital print to delve into that span of life that was my single-digits through undergraduate years. I am ashamed to say that I made many a poor choice and suffered a great deal of consequences from them. But praise God He used my sin to show me the Savior! Please take this to heart – no story is worth telling that does not have God at its center.

After finishing my graduate work at Bob Jones University and marrying my delightful wife, we moved to the Midwest state of Illinois. We moved because I had taken a job teaching 6th grade at Schaumburg Christian School (a ministry of Bethel Baptist Church). Even though I had been working as a regional training manager for Panera Bread for a number of years and had been teaching the martial arts since I was fifteen, this was my first introduction to teaching in a school. I loved it. I remember being perfectly at peace; not because of anything other than I knew I was in the center of God’s will for my life. He wanted me at SCS and there was no question about it.

All of the posts to follow will have something to do with SCS and Bethel Baptist Church. This place has become a hub for me to branch out in the work of the Lord. I’ve developed two criteria for knowing if I’m in the right ministry: 1. My shepherds are preaching God’s truth and my family is growing, & 2. God is using me. This second factor has been abundantly clear to me from the start.

If I had to sum up my teaching experiences over the past five years, I would have to use the word application. I would be the most desolate soul in the universe if I knew that my students were the best grammarians or actors on the planet and yet they died and went to Hell. It would grieve my very cells to know I had missed an opportunity to take this class and apply it directly to the instant my students were living in. Side Note: No subject is worth learning if it is learned in a Godless vacuum.

Teachers, please pay attention. There is not a page in your textbook that cannot be used to point back to God. There is not a theory or hypothesis that does not radically affect the spirituality of your students. There is not a project or lesson that cannot help those eager minds transform into the image of their Lord. Your job is to find God’s truth in your curriculum and apply it to where your students are living. To neglect this task would be to fail as a teacher.

My main job for the past five years has been to teach. That, in and of itself, has been a supreme joy. But this has been merely a starting point – a veritable spring board for opportunity. The timeline of this post spans the fall of 2007 to the spring of 2012. In the next post I will rewind to the spring of 2008 to show you the first sprouting branch of ministry God entrusted me with.

In His Care,

AMBrewster

P.S.

Check out what our 2012 Studet Body President had to say about SCS in her own words: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoElGQ2HutM