07.08.14

To See Lives Transformed, Always Start With The Truth Of God’s Word                 by Rick Warren

http://pastors.com/transformed-by-truth/

Nothing thrills a Pastor more than seeing real transformation happen in the lives of people. We want to see people grow up and become completely mature – completely like Jesus Christ. Another word for this is sanctification, and sanctification always begins as God’s Spirit uses God’s truth to change the mind, heart, and will of His follower.

Jesus prayed to the father in John 17:17, “Use the truth to make them complete. Your Word is truth.” Transformation is change, and change happens as we apply God’s truth to every area of our lives. The first responsibility of Pastors and shepherds is to preach God’s truth, which transforms the lives of our hearers into the image of Jesus Christ.

One of the primary marks of spiritual immaturity is when other people can easily sway us away from the truth. Not knowing the truth of God’s Word causes us to change our beliefs back and forth, repeatedly, which creates an unstable life. Paul said in Ephesians 4:14-15 that when we are mature and know God’s truth, “Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or made a lie sound like the truth…”

As Pastors, teachers, and church leaders, it is our responsibility to instruct people in God’s truth and to set the example for what it looks like to apply God’s truth to every area of our lives. Solomon set the bar high in this area in Ecclesiastes 12:9-11, “In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs. The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly. The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd.” (NASB)

When you present God’s truth to God’s people for the purpose of life transformation, two things will happen. First, they will be moved to act on what they’ve heard, to become doers and not just hearers. Solomon said the words of wise men are “like goads” that move the will of people to align with truth. And secondly, they are like “well-driven nails.” In other words, when God’s truth is presented well, it finds a permanent place in the minds of its hearers.

As we lead our congregations forward spiritually, I believe there are several imperatives that will result in truly transformed lives. Continue reading

07.08.14

Why Teenagers Act Crazy   by Richard Friedman

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/29/opinion/sunday/why-teenagers-act-crazy.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Aw%2C%7b%222%22%3A%22RI%3A13%22%7d&_r=1

ADOLESCENCE is practically synonymous in our culture with risk taking, emotional drama and all forms of outlandish behavior. Until very recently, the widely accepted explanation for adolescent angst has been psychological. Developmentally, teenagers face a number of social and emotional challenges, like starting to separate from their parents, getting accepted into a peer group and figuring out who they really are. It doesn’t take a psychoanalyst to realize that these are anxiety-provoking transitions.

But there is a darker side to adolescence that, until now, was poorly understood: a surge during teenage years in anxiety and fearfulness. Largely because of a quirk of brain development, adolescents, on average, experience more anxiety and fear and have a harder time learning how not to be afraid than either children or adults.

Different regions and circuits of the brain mature at very different rates. It turns out that the brain circuit for processing fear — the amygdala — is precocious and develops way ahead of the prefrontal cortex, the seat of reasoning and executive control. This means that adolescents have a brain that is wired with an enhanced capacity for fear and anxiety, but is relatively underdeveloped when it comes to calm reasoning.

You may wonder why, if adolescents have such enhanced capacity for anxiety, they are such novelty seekers and risk takers. It would seem that the two traits are at odds. The answer, in part, is that the brain’s reward center, just like its fear circuit, matures earlier than the prefrontal cortex. That reward center drives much of teenagers’ risky behavior. This behavioral paradox also helps explain why adolescents are particularly prone to injury and trauma. The top three killers of teenagers are accidents, homicide and suicide.

The brain-development lag has huge implications for how we think about anxiety and how we treat it. It suggests that anxious adolescents may not be very responsive to psychotherapy that attempts to teach them to be unafraid, like cognitive behavior therapy, which is zealously prescribed for teenagers.

What we have learned should also make us think twice — and then some — about the ever rising use of stimulants in young people, because these drugs may worsen anxiety and make it harder for teenagers to do what they are developmentally supposed to do: learn to be unafraid when it is appropriate to do so. Continue reading

07.08.14

An Urgent Call to Prayer   by Anne Graham Lotz

Anne Graham Lotz and thousands of other followers of Jesus Christ across our nation and around the world, joined together to pray.
The Purpose:
  • For God the Father to restrain, protect, and deliver His people from the evil that has come into our world.
  • For God the Son to be exalted, magnified, and glorified in His church, in our nation, and in our lives.
  • For God the Holy Spirit to fall on us in a fresh way, compelling the church to repent of sin and our nation to return to faith in the living God, resulting in a great national spiritual awakening.

Continue reading

07.02.14

A Prayer for the Nation  by Mark Tullos

http://www.lifeway.com/Article/a-prayer-for-the-nation?intcmp=LWMain-Article1-prayer-nation-20140630

This Fourth of July as you celebrate the freedom you enjoy as an American, pause to pray for our nation and its leaders. Following is a Scripture passage and suggested prayer to guide you in your petition.

“Happy is the nation whose God is Yahweh — the people He has chosen to be His own possession! The LORD looks down from heaven; He observes everyone. He gazes on all the inhabitants of the earth from His dwelling place. He alone shapes their hearts; He considers all their works. A king is not saved by a large army; a warrior will not be delivered by great strength” (Psalm 33:12-16).

Father,
Through trials and tears, through victories and challenges, you have guided this nation. We pray today for your hand to guide us. Your Word has said, to whom much is given, much will be required. O Father, how you have blessed us! Our soil can feed the world. Our strength can secure justice. Our dreams can heal nations. But without You, we can do nothing.

We pray that we’ll never forget the price that was paid, the foundation that was laid, and the blessing we enjoy in this land of plenty. Give us hearts that seek to heal. We pray for strong churches in the United States that can and will do infinitely more than any law, bill or platform could ever do. May our hope be even greater than our heritage.

We confess our utter helplessness to impact the world eternally without the work of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, we ask you Lord, for a spiritual awakening that gives life to our land. Call us once again in this time of great challenge to honor you with great vigor. Teach us how to love one another. Help us to see injustice and right it. Help us to see their pain and with Your heart, heal them. Help us to see hopelessness and like the Samaritan, sacrifice, respond, heal, and restore.

May we say to a world ravaged by disease, starvation and discord: “Rise up! Take heart!” Teach us how to have an unquenchable passion for your mission. Show us how to stop violent intentions with radical love. Lord, we look forward to the day when our swords will be beaten into plowshares. When your kingdom will come and your will shall be done in America as it is in heaven. Give us the bread of reconciliation and the cleansing water of forgiveness. For Yours is the kingdom, power and glory, forever!

In Jesus Name, Amen.

07.02.14

A SURPRISINGLY VALUABLE TOPIC FOR LEADERS  by Tim Elmore
I learned a valuable lesson in 1979 as I mentored a group of high school students. In fact, as the mentor, I’m certain I learned more than they did. During the first three weeks, I felt compelled to build my credibility with these teens. So I consistently worked my achievements into the conversation. It was natural. I wanted these young “mentees” to believe I was a credible leader. Spontaneously, on week four, an unexpected topic surfaced. Without thinking, I became vulnerable. I shared how I had failed miserably when trying to master that topic two years earlier. Suddenly, my small group of students was riveted to my every word. Our discussion moved from superficial to profound. I soon learned a vital principle: People may be impressed with my successes, but they identify with my failures.
After having two kids of my own, I relearned the lesson. As I tucked my children into bed at night, I enjoyed a good story time as we reflected on the day. Inevitably, both of my kids were drawn to stories about my blunders. They loved hearing about (and laughing at) my failures. Soon, they’d ask for them by name. I had a library full of them. In time, I began to practice this habit whenever I was in front of young people — talk about your failures. When I did, I connected. Here’s why:
It invites authenticity.
When I tell a group of students I won an award for a book I wrote, I may amaze them, but I likely will distance myself from the average kid. But when I tell them how I attempted to launch a citywide outreach that flopped, they all connect and want to learn what I did wrong. They want details. I become real.

Continue reading

07.02.14

5 Websites New Youth Pastors Need To Know About by youthministrymedia.ca
Here is a list of 5 basic resources that you might not know about.
These are resources that I use all the time.
It is my basic toolbox of youth ministry resources.
1. Youthmin.org.  This is the website I go to for all things youth ministry.  The thing that I love about this community is that all the people running it and writing for it are in full time ministry positions.  All the material and resources are proven, and tried in real ministry settings.  I am a contributor for youthmin.org, but I have been a slacker.   These dudes are legit, and will help you think about the why behind your youth ministry.
2. Youth leaders stash.   This is my go to place for games.  If I want to find a new game, or a few new games this is the place I go.  I have been using this website for the past 5+ years.  Chad is the guy running the website and all the games are fun, and are easily doable.
Honestly, I don’t love planning and running games.  But youth leaders stash helps me find, prepare and run games for my youth ministry in no time.  This is the one stop shop for your youth ministry games.
3. Average youth ministry.  One day when I grow up I hope I am like Ben Kerns.  This guy is always churning out amazing content.  His website is one that I read everyday, and you should to.  I love his heart for ministry and passion for youth ministry.  He has wisdom, and insight that I am so thankful for.  His website has helped me and my ministry, and because of that I am thankful for him and how God is using him.
For wisdom in the trenches, go to average youth ministry.
4. Download Youth Ministry.  This is one of the best youth ministry websites created in the last year.  The store is a treasure trove of content.  When a youth pastor asks me where to download games, series images, series, and anything else, I direct them to download youth ministry.  Take a few minutes and get lost in the crazy amount of content on this youth ministry website.  It is really impressive.
This is the place for all things youth ministry. Go check out download youth ministry now!
5.  Stock photos that don’t suck.   This isn’t a youth ministry website, but it is a great place to find back ground images for your youth ministry . Actually, if you check this website out and look through all 5 of the stock photo websites you will probably see a ton of the photos that we use.
Eventually, I would love to have a free youth ministry stock photo website, but until I get a legit camera, this website will do!

07.02.14

Millennials Avoiding Voice Mail by Jim Leibelt

The concept of leaving (and checking) voice mail is, to millennials, obsolete and landline use is virtually extinct.

A spokeswoman for Vonage reported that voice mail deposits had dropped by 8 percent from October 2013 to April of this year.

Perhaps the least used feature on a millennial’s smartphone today is the phone itself.

That red number on their iPhones announcing how many voice mail messages are waiting? Ignored. The recording? Instantly deleted.

Having grown up in a texting-friendly culture, with unmediated cellphone access to their friends, they have had little formative experience leaving spoken or relayed messages over the phone.

To address the issue, the Etiquette School of New York is teaching conversation and basic etiquette classes on voice mail skills.

“It’s kind of awkward to leave voice mails now,” said Chris Paul, 22, a recent graduate of Duquesne University. “The expectation is that we send each other text messages, and if you wanted to talk to someone, you’d answer their calls.” When he is forced to record his voice, he is a little anxious. “It’s a little nerve-racking.”

Source: New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/15/fashion/millennials-shy-away-from-voice-mail.html

06.20.14

Lead Better by Improving the Way You Communicate   by 

http://pastors.com/kill-these-3-things/

You can’t lead a church, evangelize a community, or do business without communicating. And the better you become as a communicator, the better you become as a leader, and the better the team you lead becomes as a result. That means to get ahead you’ve got to continuallywork on your communication skills. Probably 75% of the problems we face, at home, at work, and at church are related to poor communication with family members, church members, your clients, or your coworkers. Poor communication is also the most frequently mentioned problem in marriage counseling.

Here are three things you must give up in order to grow as a communicator. As you lead…

Give Up Your Assumptions

We get into trouble when we start assuming we understand the meaning of what people say to us. The truth is – everything you hear goes through a filter. Your filter is determined by your past experiences and your unique personality. You may not be hearing what they are really saying. Therefore, it’s smart (and safe) to ask for clarification. There are 6 possible messages every time you speak:

  • What you mean to say and what you actually said.
  • What they heard and what they think they heard.
  • What they say about it and what you think they said about it.

Proverbs 18:13 says “It’s foolish to answer before listening.”

There is a second kind of assumption you need to give up on. Stop assuming people understand everything you’re thinking and feeling as you communicate. It’s only fair to clearly and completely share your expectations with people when you assign them a task or a project. You must find a way to be both concise and complete, and always clear when you communicate.

Give Up Your Accusations

You’re never persuasive when you’re abrasive. And you never get your point across by being cross. Anger and sarcasm only make people defensive… and defensiveness kills communication. Here are four common forms of accusation:

  • Exaggerating – making sweeping generalities like ”You never ” or “You always.”
  • Labeling – derogatory name calling. Labeling never changes anyone. It only reinforces the negative behavior.
  • Playing Historian – bringing up past failures, mistakes, and broken promises.
  • Asking Loaded Questions – which really can’t be answered, like “Can’t you do anything right?”

Ephesians 4:29 says Use only helpful words, the kind that build others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Give Up Your Apprehensions

Fear prevents honest communication. It causes us to conceal our true feelings, and fail to confront the real issues. The two most common apprehensions are: the fear of failure and the fear of rejection. But when you face your fear and risk being honest – real communication can happen. Freedom is the result of openness. Jesus said, “The truth will set you free!” (John 8:32)

Good teams communicate, or they disintegrate. It’s worth giving up our assumptions, our accusations, and our apprehensions to build unity and lead everyone forward.

06.20.14

Boundaries for Your Teens   by Mark Gregston

http://www.heartlightministries.org/blogs/markgregston/2014/06/19/boundaries-for-your-teen-2/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_content=207988&utm_campaign=On-Demand_2014-06-19%2018%3a03

It is never an easy “enlightenment” to find out that your teen has been doing things that are hardly acceptable, and it can be completely devastating when the truth comes out. Most parents are appalled. They just “can’t believe” that their child would “ever do such a thing.”

Consider the letter I received just the other day…

“Saturday night our 15-year old son informed us he felt guilty because he has been smoking pot and lying about it for the last six months. He confessed to our Assistant Pastor, whom he respects, and who encouraged our son to tell us. As you can well imagine, this has been quite a blow. My heart has been broken. I can’t stop crying. I never, ever thought I’d go down this road with him. We agree our son needs discipline, but I fear my husband will be too harsh, and it will cause my son to further rebel. What is the right thing to do here??

Troubled… –California

My Response…

You might be dealing with just an ice cube, or you might have just touched on the tip of the iceberg. Until you dive in, you won’t be able to tell the difference between the two. In the first place, try to remain calm. You have many things working in your favor in dealing with your son, such as:

  • He confessed, so you didn’t have to “find it out” or make any “new discoveries.”
  • He said he feels guilty about what he was doing.
  • He respects someone outside the family and felt comfortable telling them, and then you.
  • He’s been grounded in scriptural principles regarding his character

It is good that you are trying to get a handle on the issue. And you are wise to carefully consider the discipline that you are about to take. But, before you take the plunge, here’s something to think about. Sometimes parents are quick to hand out discipline or punishment — like grounding, extraction from social interaction, or taking away privileges or possessions. Discipline is good, but taking away something won’t always solve the problem entirely. It is only half of the solution for a teenager, who wants to also be treated more like an adult, not a child. Continue reading