06.27.16

50 Simple Ways to Say Thank You to Your Volunteers by Dale Hudson

relevantchildrensmagazine.com

65% of volunteers say they haven’t heard the words, “thank you” in the last year.  Don’t be that leader.  Express your appreciation to your volunteers on a regular basis.  Here’s 50 simple ways to show them you’re thankful.

  1. Starburst candy with a note that says, “You’re the star of our ministry.”
  2. Uno candy bar with a note that says, “I hope UNO how much we appreciate you.”
  3. Lifesaver candy with a note that says, “You’re a Lifesaver for the kids.”
  4. Junior Mints candy with a note that says, “I mint to tell you how thankful I am for you.”
  5. Reese’s Pieces candy with a note that says, “Without you the ministry would fall to pieces.”
  6. Almond Joy with a note that says, “It’s a joy having you on the team.”
  7. A $5 gift card to Starbucks with a handwritten appreciation note.
  8. Homemade cookies with a handwritten note.
  9. A bag of microwave popcorn with a note that says, “You are a POPular volunteer.”
  10. A smores kit with a note that says, “We need smore volunteers like you.”
  11. Flavored tea bags with a note that says, “You’re a Tea-riffic volunteer.”
  12. A bag of nuts with a note that says, “We’re nuts about you.”
  13. A bottle of A&W root beer with a note that says, “You’re an AWesome volunteer.”
  14. A bag of seeds with a note that says, “Thanks for helping kids faith grow.”
  15. Bring them a latte drink and write “Thanks a latte for your heart for the kids” on it.
  16. A bag of chocolate chip cookies with a note that says, “Thanks for chipping in to help kids discover Jesus’ love.”
  17. A bag of York Peppermint Patties with a note that says, “Thank you for your commitMINT to the kids.”
  18. A candle with a note that says, “Thanks for being a light to kids and families.”
  19. Gift card to a movie with a note that says, “You’re the star of our show.”
  20. Gold Hershey Kisses with a note that says, “You’re worth more than gold to us.”
  21. Gold candy coins with a note that says, “You’re CHANGING kids’ lives.”
  22. Fortune cookies with a note that says, “We’re so fortunate to have you on our team.”
  23. Fresh strawberries with a note that says, “We’re so glad we picked you to join us!”
  24. A small plant with a note that says, “Thanks for planting God’s Word in the kids’ hearts.”
  25. A plain coffee mug – write a personal thank you note on it with a sharpee marker.
  26. Hand lotion with a note that says, “Thanks for being Jesus’ hands and feet.”
  27. Have the kids write thank you notes to them.
  28. Mountain Dew with a note that says, “Thank you for all you dew.”
  29. Homemade soup with a note that says, “You warm the hearts of kids.”
  30. Gift card to an ice cream shop with a note that says, “It’s a treat having you on the team.”
  31. Car air freshener with a note that says, “You’re a scent-sational volunteer.”
  32. Twix Bar with a note that says, “Be twix me and you…we couldn’t do this without you.”
  33. Coke with a note that says, “You are so-da bomb as a volunteer.”
  34. M&M’s with a note that says, “Much & Many thanks for all you do.  I appreciate you.”
  35. Flower with a note that says, “The kids’ faith is blooming under your leadership.”
  36. Extra gum with a note that says, “You are an EXTRAordinary volunteer.”
  37. Pop rocks with a note that says, “You rock.”
  38. A Take 5 candy bar with a handwritten note that says, “I wanted to take 5 minutes to write you a note and let you know how much I appreciate…”
  39. A bag of Tootsie Rolls with a note that says, “Thank you for the roll you play in helping kids love Jesus.”
  40. A loaf of fresh baked bread with a note that says, “Thank you for sharing the bread of life with the kids.”
  41. Box of light-bulbs with a note that says, “Thanks for helping kids have a bright future with Jesus.”
  42. Nestle Crunch bar with a note that says, “When it’s crunch time…we know we can count on you.  Thanks.”
  43. 7-Up with a note that says, “Have a great week…I’ll be praying for you all 7 days.”
  44. Box of donuts with a note that says, “I appreciate you a hole lot.”
  45. A chap-stick with a note that says, “You’re the balm.”
  46. A roll of Certs with a note that says, “I am CERTainly thankful for you.”
  47. Swedish Fish with a note that says, “You are of-fish-ially an awesome volunteer.”
  48. Gummy Bears with a note that says, “The ministry would be unBEARable without you.”
  49. Blueberry muffins with a note that says, “I am berry thankful for you.”
  50. 100 Grand Bar with a note that says, “You’re priceless to us.”

06.27.16

Communicating Like a Social Media Pro by Koby Milton

youthministrymedia.ca

Social media is critical.  If you didn’t already know how important it is, here are some stats.

  • 90% of young adults use social media—ages 18 to 29
  • 70% of the U.S. population has at least one social networking profile.
  • Of the 7.2 billion people on earth, 3 billion have Internet access; 2.1 billion are active on social media; and 1.7 billion use social networks from a mobile device.
  • The “most important” social networks to teens and young adults (aged 12-24) are now Instagram (32%), Twitter (24%), Facebook (14%), Snapchat (13%) and Tumblr (4%).

3 WAYS TO COMMUNICATE LIKE A SOCIAL MEDIA PRO

1.DON’T DO IT ALL.

I am always amazed when youth ministries are communicating on every social media platform.  If you are in a mega church, you can pull this off.  I am not willing to spend signifiant hours each week making posts.  When ever I meet up with someone to talk about developing a social media plan, I always start with where they know there students are going.

Picking just 3 accounts and sticking with those will help you be able to be consistent.  There is nothing worse than going to a social media account and not seeing a post for 6 weeks.  People tend to over commit to social media accounts thinking that more is better.  Pick 3 and just master them.  Don’t feel like you are going to grow a youth ministry by just using social media.  The most important communication tool is still mouth to mouth.

2. GET THE RIGHT TOOLS

The app that I keep coming back to is word swag.  This is one of the best apps, and worth the investment.   Word swag is a simple to use app that you can put text over images in a few minutes.  I will build almost all of my social media announcements in this app and send it out to instagram and Facebook.

We also use an app called Legend.  This app is similar to word swag, but you are able to make a video ad.  It’s a simple and easy way to maximize communication across your social media platforms.

Other tools that can be helpful are adobe illustrator, adobe photoshop, and affinity designer if you are a mac user.  These are tools that you need to learn when it comes to being a social media pro today.  You could learn illustrator or photoshop with some patience and time on youtube tutorials.

3.  BE CONSISTENT

Almost more than anything it’s being consistent online.   Working on social media takes time.  Building a presence will take years not months.  You can get a lot done in month, but for people to see what your ministry is about will take some time.

  • HOW MANY TIMES SHOULD YOU POST A DAY?
    • Facebook – 2 Times Per Day
    • Twitter – 3 Times Per Day
    • Instagram – 1.5 Times Per Day

CONCLUSION

If you are using social media, and are feeling stressed out trying to keep up with all the mega churches out there, you should stop! There is no point in wasting time communicating everywhere when you can’t even communicate in a few places well.  Don’t just pick up a new platform because someone else is using it.  Use a few helpful tools that can take your social media game to the next level, and be consistent in how you post and when.  Use your time well, and use it for the glory of God.

06.27.16

Abusing Grace: Finding the Balance Between “Guilt Trip” and “It’s All Good” by Tim Downey

leadertreks.org

I will never forget one Sunday after the worship services when I was about eight years old. My older brother grabbed my shoulder and said, “You have to see this!” He took me up to the stage and positioned me where the pastor typically stood. My brother told me to look closely at the top of the lectern, made of some sort of matte black Formica product. I cocked my head and strained my eyes, but the lectern was empty. I turned to my brother and whined, “Whaaat?” My brother pointed at what looked like a textured finish on the lectern top. Eew! There, splattered all over the top of the lectern was the dried spittle of our exuberant pastor. Clearly his “hellfire” preaching had spewed more than condemnation toward the congregation.

I grew up in an atmosphere where Romans 8:1 wasn’t heavily emphasized. I came to believe that my hope for salvation only started on bended knees—after that, I needed to work hard to appease a very angry God.

Walking away from that environment as a teenager wasn’t difficult. Nevertheless, God’s far-reaching grace drew me back into “the fold” in due time. Upon resuming my journey of faith in a different church, I began to hear lots of teaching on God’s grace: grace for salvation (Eph. 2:8–10), grace for security of the believer (John 10:27–29), grace for growth (Eph. 2:10). I liked this concept. Why hadn’t someone brought this up before?

Sometime later I noticed yet another shift taking place in the Christian landscape. A whole generation of believers began to embrace this grace idea—not as a cherished truth, but as a body shield. “I’m under grace!” became an excuse to live with few boundaries and little discipline. Instead of leading to confession and repentance, sinful living produced responses of “It’s okay; we’re forgiven,” and “I don’t have to practice holiness; I am holy because of Christ.” But this lifestyle has a way of eroding our character, leaving us empty, and plaguing us with our own dysfunction (Rom. 6:15).

Those who abuse grace respond quickly: “I don’t have to live under a legalistic set of rules any longer. I’m free in Christ.” But are they living in true freedom? Christians do not earn grace through actions, but Christ purchased for us freedom from sin, not freedom to sin. We must ask ourselves one simple question: Has the “freedom” we have embraced brought us liberty or bondage (Gal. 5:13)?

To be clear, there’s no way I’m going back to screaming, spitting condemnation I grew up in. I’m cured. I don’t need to take on that weight again. Once was more than enough, and it nearly ruined my view of God.

However, here is the key question for the next generation of Church leaders: Are your actions communicating grace-filled or grace-exploiting living to your students? If someone asked your students what it looked like to follow Christ, how would they answer? Would they describe a fear-based life of works and guilt? Would they describe a lackadaisical life with no expectations or desire for change?

Hopefully, they would recognize the truth of the gospel: God’s grace is both freeing and transforming. It removes our guilt and shame once and for all, and it begins our journey to become more like Christ. When we begin following Christ, the Spirit indwells us, sealing us as holy in God’s eyes and convicting us when we live as if we haven’t been redeemed. Now that’s a wonderful, powerful truth worth instilling into your students.

06.27.16

Dealing With Our Students’ Doubts and Questions by Andy Blanks

youthministry360.com

One of the main tasks of youth workers, in my opinion, is to help play a role in leading teenagers to take more ownership of their faith. And as I speak to teenagers and youth workers about this transition to greater faith ownership, the question of doubt inevitably comes up. Often.

One of the major aspects of our teenagers owning their faith is dealing with doubts, or dealing with questions they have about God or some aspect of their faith.

Questions about the essentials of their faith, and to a lesser extent, doubts, are a healthy part of faith development. As leaders, we should encourage students to wrestle with the questions they have. Even as this might make us uneasy, it’s important to help students walk down this road.

I love this quote from Henry Drummond:

“Christ distinguished between doubt and unbelief. Doubt says, ‘I can’t believe.’ Unbelief says, ‘I won’t belief.’ Doubt is honest. Unbelief is defiant.”

Honest doubt, and honest questioning is how teenagers begin to own a faith that is theirs, not their parents’, or grandparents’, or even yours. In the past, I have told students that if they are not asking questions of their faith, they’re not trying hard enough. They’re not thinking about it enough. They’re not digging deeply enough. That’s why questioning is part of owning our faith.

But what do we do with our questions? What is the right attitude or approach toward having these questions or doubts?

Here are a few takeaways:

1. LOOK TO SCRIPTURE FOR EXAMPLES.

There are dozens of examples of people questioning or doubting God in Scripture. 100-year-old Abram questioned God’s ability to give him a son (Genesis 17:15-17). Abraham questioned God when God said He was going to destroy Sodom (Genesis 18:22-25). David questioned God dozens of times (Psalm 13:1-2; Psalm 22:1). The OT prophet Habakkuk questioned God’s goodness. John the Baptist doubted his mission and God’s call on his life (Luke 7:18-20). And you know what? God didn’t smite them. God didn’t call down fire on them. God walked with them through their doubts and questions. And in the end, their faith was strengthened.

2. PURSUE ANSWERS

The second way to deal with our questions comes from a guy near and dear to my heart, the great Dr. Tim Keller. Keller writes a great bit about faith and doubt. I love this quote: “A person’s faith can collapse overnight if he or she has failed over the years to listen patiently to his or her own doubts. As Christians, we should acknowledge and wrestle with our doubt. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them.”

We have to encourage students to own their questions. To acknowledge them. To look at them from every different angle. To make it their mission to discover as much as they can about their questions until they are satisfied that they have taken it as far as they can take it. Many of our questions don’t have answers that make us feel good. But, all of our questions, all of our doubts, can be answered in God. Which leads to my next point . . .

3. BE COMFORTABLE KNOWING GOD, BUT NOT KNOWING ALL OF GOD

In the end, while we can know so much about God and His ways, we will never know all of Him and His ways. That God made Himself knowable to us is amazing. But He will always remain completely unknowable. Isaiah 55:9  God says: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Exodus 15:11   says: “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?

There will always be aspects of God that we can’t fully know. But in seeking to understand God and His ways, we will grow to know Him more than we can ever imagine. There is tension here, for sure. But there is assurance as well.

4. OUR BIGGEST DOUBTS AND QUESTIONS ABOUT GOD DON’T CHANGE WHO HE IS.

We may question God and we might find that the answers we find don’t solve any pain we feel or our need for nice neat resolution. But this doesn’t change who God is. We may question why God allows suffering. But we can’t deny that He is a loving God who goes to great lengths to save us. We may question God’s plan, but He is still sovereign. We may question God allowing bad things to happen to good people, but He is still compassionate. We may question why we don’t feel close to God, but it doesn’t change the fact that He is always near to us, eternally unchanging, and deeply and madly in love with each of His children. Our doubts, our questions, don’t change who God is.

The doubts and questions of our teenagers can sometimes feel big and scary. But only to us. They don’t scare God.

God welcomes the faith-insecurities of our teenagers. And once we help them see this,  we help them grow toward a faith that is more authentic.

06.20.16

The Differing Online Habits of Millennials by Koby Milton

When were you born?  If you were born in 1980 and on, you are either a Millennial, or generation Z.

youthministrymedia.ca/infographics/the-differing-online-habits-of-millennials-infographic/

This infographic called: Kids of the past vs internet generation is worth checking out.  It’s helpful to see the differences between 4 different generations.  Is it worse today?  Here are some things that stood out.

  1. 90% of millennials use the internet.  I am not surprised by this, but only 10 percent of millennials and above don’t use the internet.  This really is the new way of life.  I have seen students bullied for not being online.  If you want to see where students are today, they are online.  Millennials are the one to get their news online.  Last weekend, I was talking to a student about T.V.  We were at a cabin watching cable T.V, and he said, “who still watching cable t.v?, this is trash.”  Millennials are going to stream shows they want, or get it on netflix.
  2. Children are 6 time more likely to play a video game than ride a bike.  This is true.  I have been biking with my kids each week, and I never see people out.  If I was to log on to my console to play a video game, the majority of my students would be there.  One of the ways to reach students in my ministry context in the past has been to play online with them.  This has been a successful way to develop a relationship while doing something together.
  3. 54% of millennials have some college.  This is the most educated generation.  The majority of students are graduating and moving on to college.  One of the things my ministry has been thinking through is whats next for students who graduate out of the ministry.  What its he goal?  The goal for us is to have students attend one year at a Bible College.
  4. 22% of 17 year olds read each day for fun.  This one took awhile to decipher.  Students are reading less and less.  What does this mean for students and Bible reading?  Are they reading the Bible on their app?  If only 22% of students are reading for fun, and 26% voluntarily read a book if they read it previously, will it become increasing difficult for students to maintain a Bible reading plan?  Millennials are so focused on screen time, they are ditching reading.  I would love to know what the stats are on millennials reading the Bible through apps like you version.  I wonder if it’s better today or worse?

Check out the infographic below.

Web-demographics-boomer-xyz-630

06.20.16

A Mentor’s Biggest Mistake by Doug Franklin

leadertreks.org

A mentor can support struggling students as they move through the refining fires that fortify their faith. A mentor can help hesitating students take the challenging journey from their head to their heart (a journey many Christians have not taken). A mentor can encourage overly comfortable students out of the shallow end of the spiritual pool, teaching them how to swim in deep waters.

But despite all of these amazing things mentors can do for students, there’s one thing they can never do: they cannot be the “author and perfecter” of their students’ faith. Here’s what I mean. It’s tempting to guide students down the same faith journey we walked. But it’s better to equip them for their own journey. When we don’t have answers to difficult questions, we tend to default to what we know. We encourage students to do it how we did it, taking them to stops along our own road, walking in our old footprints.

Unfortunately, when they only know to walk along someone else’s journey, they won’t learn how to listen to God’s voice guiding them, and they won’t follow him with faith into the unknown. Sure, some parts of our faith walks will intersect and repeat, but hearing God’s voice and following him into the unknown is a priceless practice. And when students follow Christ in this way, they will truly own their faith.

We must let Christ be the Author and Perfecter of our students’ faith. Our story is written by him and him alone. Mentors are there to help their mentees learn how to hear his whispers, accept his challenges, and take worthwhile risks. Mentors help their mentees live and follow the story the Author is scribing.

06.20.16

Why Helicopter Parents Produce Boomerang Kids by Tim Elmore

growing leaders.com

I spent the last few days studying thirty years of student trends and patterns. While both K-12 and Higher Education have gone through transitions—the greatest shift in three decades of childhood is the parents.

Parents are doing their job differently than they did forty years ago.

We’ve all heard the term, “Helicopter Parent.” It’s a title we’ve affectionately bestowed upon moms and dads who hover over their children, believing that their child needs their attention, their help, their insight or their power to make it in life. These parents are all too happy to leverage that power to pave the way for their child.

Social scientists have noted the results of helicopter parenting between 1985 and 2015:

  • When students reach college they are more immature, coddled by parents.
  • They are a generation that grew up without ever skinning their knees.
  • Few have felt the pain of real failure—hence, never developed resilience.
  • Many got “stickers and ribbons” for everything; everyone is above average.
  • It is common for parents to do a daily a wake-up call for their child in college.
  • These students want their college education to continue their “bubble life.”

What Has This Done to Kids as Emerging Adults?

The following are summaries of how it has affected millions of Millennials:

  • They have an inflated view of their accomplishments—60 percent even say their grades are not a “true reflection” of their work.
  • They have trouble with faculty, who are honest with them. Professors have requested their college hire a “Dean of Parents” to handle all the calls.
  • This trend led faculty to wrongfully commit “grade inflation” at a skyrocketing pace since 1970. In 1969, 7 percent made straight As. Today, it’s 41 percent.
  • They expect prizes and praises for required behavior—like in kindergarten, when they got a “Super Sitter” sticker, just for sitting still in class.
  • They feel entitled to passing marks—and even excellent marks—simply for attendance or for turning in average work. They are the “deserving” generation.
  • 65% of college students admit to cheating. It isn’t because they’re immoral, but because they feel the pressure to get results for their parents.
  • They are still attached with an emotional umbilical cord to mom. One in five students calls home three or more times a day while in college.

Helicopters Produce Boomerangs

May I remind you of something you’ll want to consider as a parent or an educator? Helicopter Parents tend to produce “Boomerang Kids.” This was a term popularized by author Carl Pickhardt who wrote a book by this title in 2011.

Boomerang kids are children who leave the “nest” for college or other coming of age rituals, and who end up coming back home to reassess what will be next for them. These kids initially leave their parents’ homes, but end up “boomeranging” back once they’ve accomplished what they were sent out to do.

Should it be any surprise to us that this happens? The children of helicopter parents have never planned for the future on their own. It’s only natural that instead of planning for the future as college is coming to an end, they return back to mom and dad—the ones who have been there for every decision in their life thus far. Kathleen Shaputis’s 2004 book The Crowded Nest Syndrome: Surviving the Return of Adult Children, coined some of the phenomena that we now, a decade later, think of as a normal part of parenting. Later in 2015, NBC aired its first episode of “Crowded.” The tagline? “The Nest Wasn’t Empty for Long.”

A Parental Evaluation:

So, let’s do a little assessment on how we’re doing as adults today:

  • Helicopter Parent: Do you hover too much, over-functioning and controlling?
  • Snowplow Parent: Do you clear the path for your kid, making things easier?
  • Stealth Bomber Parent: Do you go beyond these with active confrontation?

In my book, Generation iY, I include an entire chapter on eight damaging parenting styles that our generation of parents practices far too often. I encourage you to read it as I attempt to provide a plan to ease off the controls and allow your student to mature and become self-sufficient.

Yet, here is the larger question: Do we even want this?

Do we prepare the path for the child instead of the child for the path because we secretly want our kids to remain dependent upon us? Because…it feels good to be needed and wanted? In the same way that many mothers utilized a “Nanny-Cam” in the nursery when their baby slept, parents are now requesting “Campus-Cams” to keep watch over their kids in college, as adults. While I understand the desire for campus safety, my question is: when will we cease being their “personal assistants” and empower them to grow up and be adults? When is “easy” not the goal? When do we prepare them to face the music?

Do you really want a Boomerang for a child?

06.20.16

Top 10 Moral Issues Facing America by Chuck Colson (August 7, 2006)
breakpoint.org
Every Christian needs to go to the polls on November 2 with firm convictions about how to cast their ballots.  To help, we’ve put together this Top 10 list of the significant moral issues facing America today.  I hope that it will elevate the tone of the debate and assist you as you prepare to exercise your God-given trust to vote.

1. Sanctity of Life: Preserving sanctity of life by resisting the encroachment of abortion, euthanasia, cloning, and embryonic stem cell research.

2. Religious Liberty: Defending the persecuted Church and others of faith around the world, and defending freedom of religion here at home.

3. Human Rights: Protecting human rights, whether it’s stopping sex-trafficking, slavery in  Sudan, or the spread of AIDS.

4. Marriage: Protecting by law the traditional heterosexual definition of the family.

5. Terrorism: Strengthening  America in the War on Terrorism and in the clash of civilizations against radical Islam.

6. Judiciary Roles: Restoring the constitutional role of the Supreme Court and restricting judicial activism.

7. Faith-based solutions: Advocating faith-based solutions to societal problems.

8. Marginalized Citizens: Caring for the poor and restoring prisoners. Preserving the financial stability of health care for the elderly and disabled.

9. Education: Improving education and promoting choices within the educational system.

10. Media: Challenging the negative impact of the mass media on culture — including speaking out against pornography, sexual exploitation, and violence.

06.13.16

Dealing With Our Students’ Doubts And Questions by Andy Blanks

youthministry360.com/blog/dealing-our-students-doubt-and-questions/

One of the main tasks of youth workers, in my opinion, is to help play a role in leading teenagers to take more ownership of their faith. And as I speak to teenagers and youth workers about this transition to greater faith ownership, the question of doubt inevitably comes up. Often.

One of the major aspects of our teenagers owning their faith is dealing with doubts, or dealing with questions they have about God or some aspect of their faith.

Questions about the essentials of their faith, and to a lesser extent, doubts, are a healthy part of faith development. As leaders, we should encourage students to wrestle with the questions they have. Even as this might make us uneasy, it’s important to help students walk down this road.

I love this quote from Henry Drummond:

“Christ distinguished between doubt and unbelief. Doubt says, ‘I can’t believe.’ Unbelief says, ‘I won’t belief.’ Doubt is honest. Unbelief is defiant.”

Honest doubt, and honest questioning is how teenagers begin to own a faith that is theirs, not their parents’, or grandparents’, or even yours. In the past, I have told students that if they are not asking questions of their faith, they’re not trying hard enough. They’re not thinking about it enough. They’re not digging deeply enough. That’s why questioning is part of owning our faith.

But what do we do with our questions? What is the right attitude or approach toward having these questions or doubts?

Here are a few takeaways:

1. LOOK TO SCRIPTURE FOR EXAMPLES.

There are dozens of examples of people questioning or doubting God in Scripture. 100-year-old Abram questioned God’s ability to give him a son (Genesis 17:15-17). Abraham questioned God when God said He was going to destroy Sodom (Genesis 18:22-25). David questioned God dozens of times (Psalm 13:1-2; Psalm 22:1). The OT prophet Habakkuk questioned God’s goodness. John the Baptist doubted his mission and God’s call on his life (Luke 7:18-20). And you know what? God didn’t smite them. God didn’t call down fire on them. God walked with them through their doubts and questions. And in the end, their faith was strengthened.

2. PURSUE ANSWERS

The second way to deal with our questions comes from a guy near and dear to my heart, the great Dr. Tim Keller. Keller writes a great bit about faith and doubt. I love this quote: “A person’s faith can collapse overnight if he or she has failed over the years to listen patiently to his or her own doubts. As Christians, we should acknowledge and wrestle with our doubt. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them.”

We have to encourage students to own their questions. To acknowledge them. To look at them from every different angle. To make it their mission to discover as much as they can about their questions until they are satisfied that they have taken it as far as they can take it. Many of our questions don’t have answers that make us feel good. But, all of our questions, all of our doubts, can be answered in God. Which leads to my next point . . .

3. BE COMFORTABLE KNOWING GOD, BUT NOT KNOWING ALL OF GOD

In the end, while we can know so much about God and His ways, we will never know all of Him and His ways. That God made Himself knowable to us is amazing. But He will always remain completely unknowable. Isaiah 55:9  God says: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Exodus 15:11   says: “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?

There will always be aspects of God that we can’t fully know. But in seeking to understand God and His ways, we will grow to know Him more than we can ever imagine. There is tension here, for sure. But there is assurance as well.

4. OUR BIGGEST DOUBTS AND QUESTIONS ABOUT GOD DON’T CHANGE WHO HE IS.

We may question God and we might find that the answers we find don’t solve any pain we feel or our need for nice neat resolution. But this doesn’t change who God is. We may question why God allows suffering. But we can’t deny that He is a loving God who goes to great lengths to save us. We may question God’s plan, but He is still sovereign. We may question God allowing bad things to happen to good people, but He is still compassionate. We may question why we don’t feel close to God, but it doesn’t change the fact that He is always near to us, eternally unchanging, and deeply and madly in love with each of His children. Our doubts, our questions, don’t change who God is.

The doubts and questions of our teenagers can sometimes feel big and scary. But only to us. They don’t scare God.

God welcomes the faith-insecurities of our teenagers. And once we help them see this,  we help them grow toward a faith that is more authentic.

06.13.16

Start Young by Boyd Bailey

wisdomhuntersdevotional.com

For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Psalm 71:5, 17

Start to learn the ways of the Lord when you are young. This is your wisest and best investment. Youthful learning is leverage for the Lord. When you start young, you don’t have to wade through the muck and the mire of disobedient living and its consequences. There is no need to stray and go your own way, for you may end up back at the point where you originally drifted from God. Stay the course of Christ while you are young, and you will develop into an obedient adult. God does a masterful job of molding the young into the image of His Son, Jesus. He infuses youth with His spirit, so they become His image bearer. Youthful dependence on God results in an adult who depends on God. Do not kid yourself into thinking that you can change your ways quickly, once unhealthy habits have been entrenched in your life.

There is tremendous energy and passion around youthful hearts engaged with the eternal. Do not despise your youth or let others do the same. Paul exhorted his protégé, Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12, KJV). Take God at His word. Depend on Him for your confidence, wisdom, and security. God uses youth to accomplish His purposes.

Even as those older in the faith falter in fear, your heavenly Father frees youthful hearts to attempt big things for Him. Courage and conviction blossom in a young and hungry heart for God. The Holy Spirit is calling forth faithful young people to further His Kingdom. Listen to the heart of your heavenly Father and do what He says. People are dying of distress and neglect in their nutrition- deprived lifestyles. Yahweh is calling His youth to something much bigger than themselves. And you can facilitate their faith with prayer, financing, and training.

Help the youth start early in their engagement with God. Teach them, train them, model for them, and then send them out to serve on the Lord’s behalf. Youth do not need to be overly protected, but set free to think big for God. The larger their vision, the larger their God. So present them with a God-sized challenge. Expect great things from young people who have a heart to follow hard after God. Do not underestimate their ability to be catalysts for Christ. Release them to exceed your accomplishments in half the time. Pray for God to scatter young people across the connected planet. Now is the time to send them out in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Use today’s resources to prepare for tomorrow’s results. Youth need not be coddled as the status quo, but challenged to break out of boxes of unbelief that restrain them. Invest in and equip young people so they can roll up their sleeves and serve the poor. Children of the poor need your children to show them Jesus by loving them at their point of need. They can far exceed our efforts with your significant support, and persistent and powerful prayers. Support the young, for a youthful person, called by God and full of the Holy Spirit, can change the world.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, use me to pray for and mentor those younger in the faith.

Application: What young person  can I invest my time, energy and resources into?

Post/Tweet this today: Youth need not be coddled as the status quo, but challenged to break out of boxes of unbelief that restrain them. #WisdomHunters #startyoung