12.31.12

The Year of the Outspoken Christian Athlete  by Jim Denison

http://www.denisonforum.org/cultural-commentary/597-the-year-of-the-outspoken-christian-athlete

As 2012 ends, “year in review” lists are everywhere. Relevantmagazine has published my favorite such list, titled “2012: the year of the outspoken Christian athlete.”  I’ve listed their top five athletes and the quotes that make their faith so public and yet so genuine.

We begin, of course, with Tim Tebow.  Perhaps the best-known Christian athlete in America, this son of missionaries has maintained his commitment to Christian integrity through a very difficult year with the New York Jets.  After he led the Denver Broncos toan improbable playoff victory last year, Tebow told reporters, “I have so many things to work on, and so many ways that I fail.  But that’s what grace is all about.  And I constantly wake up every morning trying to get better, trying to improve, trying to walk closer to God.”

Number 2 is Bubba Watson, the unlikely winner of last year’s Master’s Tournament.  Known for his practical jokes and very long driving distance, after he won golf’s most prestigious title he said, “Golf is just an avenue for Jesus to use me to reach as many people as I can.”

Number 3 is Jeremy Lin, the back-up point guard for the New York Knicks who exploded on the NBA and is now a front-line star for the Houston Rockets.  His faith statement: “When other people see me play basketball . . . the way I treat my teammates, the opponents, the refs—that’s all a reflection of God’s image and God’s love.  So that’s the stuff I try to focus on.”

Number 4 is Collin Klein, star quarterback for the Kansas State Wildcats and finalist for the Heisman Trophy.  When compared with Tim Tebow, he responded: “I would say the thing [he and I] have most in common is the thing that’s most important to us, and that’s our faith and our relationship with Christ, and everything flows through that.  It’s an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence.  I’m very grateful.”

Number 5 is Gabby Douglas, the 16-year-old gymnast who became the first African-American woman to become all-around Olympic champion.  After winning the all-around gold medal she told a reporter, “I give all the glory to God.  It’s kind of a win-win situation.  The glory goes up to him, and the blessings fall down on me.”

Jesus compared us to a lamp that is placed “on its stand” so that “it gives light to everyone in the house.”   In the same way, we are to “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:15, 16).  What “stand” has Jesus entrusted to you?  How will you use your influence for his glory in the new year?

Original article in RelevantMagazine – click here.

12.31.12

Two Ways To Respond On Social Media  by Scott McClellan

This blog post was written in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings, but his point is definitely worth thinking about.

In the best of times and in the worst times, we have a choice to make:

Descriptive or Prescriptive responses?

These two kinds of responses convey radically different tones and perspectives, and it’s our job as communicators to evaluate what tones and perspectives we ought to convey through the various mediums at our disposal.

Descriptive responses –describe what they’re doing, thinking, feeling, and/or experiencing.

Prescriptive responses – prescribe to others what they should do, think, feel, or experience.

What are your thoughts? Is there even another type of response we should consider?

To read the original article click here.

12.20.12

Dear Student CBS Leader,

This year I am studying Genesis with the Teen CBS class and Hebrews with the Ladies class.  My teen Core Group calls ourselves, “Imago Dei,” because we are made in the image of God.  It has been so sweet for all of us to come to a deeper understanding of the radical truth that we are indeed made in God’s image.

One morning last week God used both Hebrews and Genesis to profoundly impact me.  Hebrews 2:6 reads, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him?” It is simply mind boggling to realize that God is mindful of…me.  At the same time, clear back in Genesis, Hagar, one of the world’s biggest misfits encountered God and said, “You are a God of seeing; truly here I have seen Him who looks after me.” (Genesis 16:13)  On this particular morning, I was simply overwhelmed as I thought about these truths.

Do you realize that God sees you- that He cares for you?  He sees you when you’re happy or sad, when you feel good or when you feel like a loser, when you have victory or when you fail.  When you feel joy that no one else can quite appreciate, God feels it with you.  When you have deep pain, you are not alone. God is mindful of you.  He sees you and He loves you!

The Christmas season is a mix of so many things- profound truth, worldly shallowness, love, loneliness, fatigue, joy, anticipation, and unfortunately the dreadful reality of what one sick person can do to others.  My prayer for you is that you remember this season what you know to be true- that the God of the universe is mindful of you.  He is good and He sees you and is looking after you.

May you see God’s hand in every area of your life and may you come to a deeper understanding of what it means to be made in His image.  Merry Christmas!

 

In Imago Dei,

Kristin Vukovich

 

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard,                             lest we drift away from it.” Hebrews 2:1

12.19.12

Hi! I am praying for you and your families!                                                                    (1 of 4)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace!

A few interesting things…                                                                                                    God is on Trial in Newtown                                                                                               What is the goal of biblical teaching?                                                                                      7 Reasons America Has Not Been Reached For Christ                                                    That Look!

God is on trial in Newtown 

by Jim Denison   www.denisonforum.org    (This article is long but AWESOME!)

God is on trial today.

The self-professed Creator of the universe claims to be all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving.  For millions of people, it is harder to believe such assertions after the Newtown massacre.  Atheist Sam Harris declares that “the murder of a single little girl—even once in a million years—casts doubt upon the idea of a benevolent God.”  Now we’re facing the killing of 20 children in one of the deadliest school shootings in American history.

If God is all-knowing, he knew the morning of December 14 that a mass murderer was going to kill 20 children and seven adults before shooting himself.  If God is all-powerful, he could have stopped this tragedy.  If God is all-loving, he would want to.  And yet 28 people were killed on that horrific day.

Every day in America 40 people are murdered.  Each death is unspeakably tragic.  But when 20 first-graders are killed at their elementary school, something in us rages at such senseless violence.  Each child who died left a parent who treasured them above everything else in this world.  Each child who survived will be scarred forever by the terror of the morning.

The Newtown massacre ripped away the veneer of a joyful holiday season, exposing the ugly cruelty that lies at the heart of this fallen world—a world made by an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God.  You don’t have to be an atheist like Sam Harris to ask how this can be.

Four accusations against God   Continue reading

12.19.12

(2 of 4)

What is the goal of biblical teaching? (Good to think about!)

by Tim Schmoyer     www.studentministry.org

How we answer this question is critical to knowing why we are teaching specific things and also to becoming more more effective at whatever our answer to that question is.

From my experience, it seems like a lot of teaching in these groups revolve around teaching information about God and His Word, which is great and very necessary. But at some point I think we make the mistake of assuming that because people know something that they must then believe it.

It’s an easy mistake to make because often we equate belief with, “giving mental consent that something is true.” If that is how we define belief, then yes, they may believe it. But what if we define belief a bit differently?

A lot of us ask the question, “Why do teenagers live one way at school and another way at church? Why don’t they live what they believe?” Actually, teenagers live exactly what they believe. It’s just that what they profess to believe doesn’t line up with what they actually believe. What we deeply believe affects everything else about us.

What if teaching revolved not around, “How much of God’s Story do you know?” but also revolved around the question, “How deeply do you believe this story?”

I think this is exactly what the American Church needs. “If I deeply believe that this is true, then what should be different in my life? And if that difference is not there, then do I really believe this?” It’s not simply about asking these questions, although that is a great start, but also teaching in a way that is directed toward increasing our belief, not just increasing what we know.

QUESTION: How can you teach God’s Word in a way that addresses how deeply we believe it more than how much we know about it?

12.19.12

(3 of 4)

7 Reasons America Has Not Been Reached For Christ                                              by Greg Stier       www.gregstier.org

There are over 300,000 Protestant churches in America. Virtually every city in the United States has an abundance of Bible-believing faith communities. Millions upon millions of Christians attend these churches and, yet, this country is not reached for Christ yet. Why? Here are seven reasons:

1. We have outsourced the work of evangelism.

We have delegated, relegated and abdicated our outreach efforts to those who have the “gift” of evangelism. We wait for the next festival or outreach to come to town before we even think about this God-given duty. After all evangelism is the domain of the greats like Graham, Palau and Laurie, not common people like Larry, Curly and Joe Schmo. Right? Wrong!

Instead of “leaving it to the professionals” we need to take THE Cause of Christ personally. Let’s stop waiting for the big wigs of evangelism to roll into town and start going ourselves to make disciples of our own next door neighbors, co-workers, family and friends.

2. We have lost our sense of urgency.

Take hell out of the equation and evangelism seems like a nice, but not necessary, activity. Put hell back in and suddenly everything changes. Suddenly souls are at stake and time is a wastin’. We start to reach out like there is no tomorrow…because there may not be for those who don’t know Jesus.

And simmer down my dear Reformed friends. It was the great reformer himself (aka “The Apostle Paul”) who asked “how will they hear without a preacher?” right in the middle of his longest explanation of the doctrine of election (Romans 9-11.) It is possible to believe in election and to be motivated to “snatch others from the fire and save them” (Jude 23.) It happens when we stop trying to connect dots that were never meant to be connected. It happens when we stop trying to reconcile God’s sovereignty and our responsibility. It happens when we choose to live in the tension and share the gospel like lost souls depend on it. Continue reading

12.19.12

(4 of 4)

That Look

by Scott Rubin   www.juniorhighministry.com (This is applicable to ALL of our students!)

Have you seen “the look” before?

It’s the one that you get when you point out something awesome to a middle schooler… about themselves.   It’s an expression that makes me think they’re trying to communicate “I love hearing about this ‘good’ that you see in me”, and also “I really want to believe what you’re saying about me could be true.”

It’s what happens when we Call Out The Best in middle schoolers.

Jr. highers are familiar with hearing instruction from adults.  And correction.  And even warning.  But I think they’re less familiar with adults really, truly encouraging them for fantastic traits that they seedeveloping in them.   Especially since those encouraging traits often aren’t “perfected”… but rather “on the way”.

A few days ago I was at a middle school basketball game.  It was a thriller (as far as JHi hoops goes!).    The point guard for one team doesn’t go to my church, but I do know a bunch of his friends, and he’s come to a couple of outreaches we’ve done.  He hit some clutch shots down the stretch (including a 3 pointer at the end of double-overtime) and led his team to a win.  When the game was done & he was walking to the parking lot, I noticed that his dad wasn’t around – so I discreetly pulled him aside.

“Nick”, I said, “that was one heck of a game”…. And he showed a smile, while retaining his athlete-cool.  “But can I tell you, even more than hitting those big-time shots, I was even more impressed with how you played.”   I could tell that he wanted to hear more, so I said “When your team got frustrated, you didn’t let it rattle you.  And not only that… your teammates were taking their cues from how you kept a level head.  I don’t know how much you realize it, but the rest of those guys really watch you.  And when you give them some encouraging words, it really lifts them.”

The whole exchange lasted less than 2 minutes.  But he gave me “that look”.  And when he walked away he said “thanks…. Thanks so much for saying that”.

I still remember a guy who started calling the best out of me when I was in middle school.  He was the first one to call out some gifts that God had placed in me, and his willingness to name them gave me the first hope that those things could actually be true about me.

Just curious — what “good” do you need to name in a middle schooler you know?  DO it!    And maybe you’ll see “that look” staring back at you.

12.18.12

Image

A fun way to affirm your leaders or students.

Ask core leaders/group members for words that describe each other.

Drop them into Wordle.net.

Print  – on cardstock or maybe even frame.

12.17.12

Here is YOUTHMIN.ORG top 34 blog posts of the year!

Take a look! Let us know which one YOU think is best!

Joshua Gill  – How maintaining boundaries could save your ministry

Josh Tandy – Your calling is not time sensitive

Josh Evans – My top 5 epic fails in student ministry

Frank Gil – Calvinism and Student Ministry

Ken Mcintyre – 8 reasons why students stop showing up

Continue reading