09.25.17

Hi! I am praying for you right now! 

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
The preaching that this world needs most is the sermons in shoes that are walking with Jesus Christ. #moody
 
Worry less. Worship more. And trust our God to lead us to victory. #terqeurst
 
You cannot become who you are while wishing to be someone you are not.
(See 1 Corinthians 15:10) #furtick
 
Sometimes God must win the battle WITHIN me before He can win the battle FOR me.#furtick
 
FYI:
1. Which Parent are You… https://www.heartlightministries.org/2017/08/which-parent-are-you-1/?utm_source=CC+Master+List&utm_campaign=0dfb72756b-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_03&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5926458580-0dfb72756b-126726953
4. Four truths that will help your kids demonstrate the existence of God (below)
 
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
14 Characteristics of Incredible Small Group Leaders by Chase Snyder
The Best Gift You Can Give Your Teen (For parents but great for us!!
Teens are becoming adults later than they used to by Erica Pandey
Ten Steps to Maturity for Teenage Boys by Mark Gregston
 

Here are 2 video links I think you might like to see:

http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/61343/still?utm_source=WorshipHouse%20Media%20–%20Around%20the%20House%20(CD%20Update)&utm_medium=email&utm_content=still-2214110&utm_campaign=fp-08/31/2017-2214110
 
http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/32670/the-storms-of-life
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
How Do You Want to Be Remembered? 
 
Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.”   “I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”    Matthew 26:10, 13
How do you want to be remembered? The memory of your life will linger beyond your death; so how will your obituary read? Your epitaph will define you; so how will it read? Will it point to God and people or to you? We will all have a memorial that reflects our life. It may be pigmy-sized because it is built around us, or it may be bigger than life because it is built around Christ. These are important eternal questions that need clear definition. Your defining moments are building a memorial that will extend into the future. There are spectators watching you assemble a life memorial. Your family is watching, friends and acquaintances are watching, and the world is watching, but most important, God is watching. 
Some of your heavenly-minded cohorts will do more than watch. Their memories will intertwine with yours, creating a beautiful tapestry of God’s faithfulness. Your memorial may be more a collaboration around community—rather than individual—accomplishments. Either way, stay in the process of keeping your life aligned with and for eternal purposes. Other well-meaning (and some not so well-meaning) pundits will try to dissuade you from a lifetime commitment to seek God’s best. They may define God’s will differently than you, for they have “a wonderful plan for your life.” But you have your own life to live. God’s best for you may not be God’s best for another, so take what God has given you and completely dedicate it to Him.
Your commitment to Christ is compelling in itself. It provides the wet cement that binds together the bricks of your life experiences. As you construct your life memorial, consider a few things. Ponder the wisdom of making God your foundation. When He is your foundation, your memorial will stand for eternity. The memory of your lifelong acts of service for Christ and others may fade over time, but your God-based foundation will remain. Build eternal financial investments for Jesus into the architecture of your beautiful life memorial. Leverage your resources for God’s Kingdom. Your memorial may be bricks and mortar that represent churches, schools, hospitals, businesses, community centers, or homes. Whatever you build, build for the glory of God.
However, one word of caution is necessary. A Christ-centered charter, governed by God-fearing leaders, is required to keep an institution pure in its mission. Spend as much or more time and money on preserving the integrity of the vision, as on the construction of buildings. Otherwise, your memorial to Christ may very well be hijacked by heresy.
 
Your memorial may consist of paying for the Christian education of your grandchildren. It may be funding initiatives and projects that leverage evangelism and discipleship in a country outside of yours. Your memorial building may involve serving Jesus in some obscure and remote part of the world, without fanfare or appreciation. Whatever you do, do as unto the Lord. Resist the critics, embrace Christ, and be ever mindful of beautiful Kingdom memorial-building.
The Bible says, “I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you forever and ever” (Psalm 45:17).
 
Prayer: Heavenly Father, may I be remembered as a follower of Jesus who loved well, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Application: What do I want my epitaph to say?
 
 
Being Before Doing
 
“Live right, and you will eat from the life-giving tree. And if you act wisely, others will follow.”  (Proverbs 11:30) (CEV)

I believe people tend to think of leadership only in terms of action. But leadership is so much more than just that. Leadership is not just something you do; it’s something you are. And that’s one of the reasons good leaders have such strong magnetism. People are attracted to who they are.

All leaders desire results, but being must precede doing. To achieve higher goals, you must be a more effective leader. To attract better people, you must be a better person yourself. To achieve greater results, you must be a person of great character. A common problem occurs when a leader’s real identity and the desired results don’t match up. But when leaders display consistency of character, competence, and purpose, it makes a powerful statement to the people around them – and it draws those people to them.

If you desire to do great things with your life, then seek to become a better person and a better leader. Nothing great can be achieved alone. Any task worth doing requires the help of others. And if you want to attract good people, you’ve got to become a better person yourself. If you’re willing to do that, then you can leave the results to God.

 
 

Four truths that will help your kids demonstrate the existence of God:

Our Universe Requires a Divine “First Cause”
Scientists have determined that our universe is not infinitely old. In fact, they now believe that everything in the universe, all space, time and matter, had a beginning in the distant past. Everything that begins to exist must have a causeWhat could account for the beginning of the universe?

One thing is certain: whatever caused the cosmos must be something other than space, time or matter (since these didn’t exist prior to the beginning of the universe). That means we’re looking for something non-spatial, non-temporal, non-material, and incredibly powerful. Sounds a lot like God, doesn’t it?

Life in the Universe Requires a Divine “Author”
Scientists have also determined that life in the universe is formed and guided by information. Biological organisms (like humans) possess deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecules. The nucleotide sequence in DNA is an incredibly long (and sophisticated) code that guides the growth, development, function and reproduction of every living organism.

But where does the information in DNA come from? Did this incredibly complex series of instructions come about by chance? Was it caused by the laws of physics or some process of evolution? No. The best explanation for information is intelligence. The information in DNA requires an intelligent author. Once again, God is the most reasonable explanation.

Moral Laws in the Universe Require a Divine “Law Giver”
All of us recognize the existence of moral laws and obligations. While some behaviors (like stealing or lying) may be justified on rare occasion (to save the life of an innocent person, for example), it’s never morally acceptable to steal or lie for the fun of it. This is true for all of us, regardless of when we have lived in history or where we have lived on the planet. These objective moral laws also describe obligations between persons. No one, for example, is morally obligated to the laws of physics or chemistry.

All laws such as these require lawgivers. Objective laws and obligations that transcend all of us require an objective, personal lawgiver who transcends all of us. Once again, God is the best explanation for the moral laws and obligations we all recognize.

Evil in the Universe Requires a Divine “Standard”
Some people point to evil as an evidence against the existence of God. Why would an all-powerful, all-loving God allow bad things to happen? Is He unable to stop them? Is He simply unwilling to prevent them? In either case, the existence of evil seems to invalidate our definition of God as an all-powerful and all-loving Being.

But what defines something as evil in the first place? Is something “evil” simply because we don’t personally approve of it, or do we believe some acts are truly evil, regardless of our opinion? If the latter is true, we would need an objective, transcendent standard of good by which to judge any particular act. The existence of God offers such a standard, and God often allows and uses temporal evil to develop our eternal character, draw us to himself, and achieve a greater good (if not immediately, over the course of history). Evil doesn’t disprove God’s existence but instead requires a standard of good to be anything more than a matter of opinion. Only God can provide such a standard.

Blessings, Kendall

09.25.17

14 Characteristics of Incredible Small Group Leaders by Chase Snyder

youthspecialties.com

SPIRITUALLY MATURE

What right do you have leading others to Jesus if you are not following Him?

Small group leaders must be spiritually mature. Does this mean they have to be perfect? Of course not! Maturity doesn’t mean you are perfect. Maturity in Jesus means that you are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus through spiritual disciplines. Spiritually immature people are incapable of being spiritual leaders. The great news is that we can all, by the grace of Jesus and application of spiritual disciplines, grow spiritually.

ATTENTIVE

Great small group leaders are attentive to the needs, spiritual conditions and personalities of the people that they are serving. It isn’t enough for a small group leader to know the bible study material – they must know the people they are serving.

TRANSPARENT

Transparency is essential to building relationships. A relationship is essential for discipleship. Every person in your small group doesn’t need to know every aspect of your life. Instead, they need to know that you are a real person with real struggles. Groups that are transparent are led by a leader who is transparent.

PATIENT

Small group leaders are not responsible to “fix” people. There are too many negative ways you can take that statement so I will move on. Some leaders become increasingly frustrated that the students in their group aren’t maturing as quickly as others. Be patient. People are different. People come from different backgrounds. People have different stories.

PERSON OF INTEGRITY

This one is a no-brainer. Leaders have integrity. Without integrity, you lose influence. Integrity comes from practicing what you preach, both publicly and privately.

ENCOURAGER

People are willing to follow someone who encourages them. Everyone feels inadequate in some areas of their spiritual life. Encouraging your small group can be as simple as praying, sending text messages or remembering to follow up with a question.

RELATIONAL

The love for people is an essential characteristic of great small group leaders. The best small group leaders are actively participating in other’s lives.  The best small group leaders are not the greatest Bible teachers – they are often the best relational leaders.

POSITIVE

I find it hard to read the Bible and walk away with a negative attitude. God has repeatedly done the impossible for His people. Small group leaders need to approach their groups with a positive attitude. After all, God promises to provide for His people – both spiritually and relationally.

SERVANT

Jesus’ life exemplified the power present when we assume the role of a servant leader. Your small group doesn’t exist to serve you, but for you to serve them.

AVAILABLE

The most encouraging person can still make for a bad small group leader if he is unavailable to his group. Time and energy are essential to disciple others. Small group leaders understand that at times they will sacrifice their schedule to minister to their group.

INTENTIONAL

Spiritual growth doesn’t appear magically. Growth takes intentionality. It is a small group leader’s responsibility to intentionally lead each person in his or her group.

EXPECTANT

Do you believe that your group members can do incredible things to build the Kingdom of God? Healthy expectations can spur growth more so than wordsmithing a perfect open-ended question.

Each Jesus follower has been given spiritual gifts and talents to leverage in their mission to share the Gospel. Great leaders help their people set healthy expectations and paint a picture of what God may have for them in the near future.

ENTHUSIASTIC

Enthusiasm is contagious. It is important for you to enjoy spending time with your small group. The leader is the one who sets the pace for this. If you dread attending small group meetings, your group will dread it as well. Add elements that will connect the team to one another and spark their enjoyment for life and Jesus.

FACILITATOR

Your small group is not a platform. Your small group is not your audience. Don’t lecture to them for an hour. Be a leader that facilitates conversation. Facilitators steer the conversation without controlling the conversation. Facilitation, when done well, incorporates strong Biblical teaching and ensures there are practical steps for each person to walk away with.

09.25.17

The Best Gift You Can Give Your Teen

axios.com

At Axis, we talk a lot about starting conversations with your teens, especially about the world in which they live. It’s one of the best ways to cultivate trust and bridge the chasm between the generations. As parents, we often know what is best for our kids, therefore the temptation is to talk at them instead of listening to them, especially when discussing volatile topics like dating, social media, or pornography. Conversations can quickly deteriorate into a competition to win, instead of a mutual dialogue. It’s difficult to truly listen when you are mentally crafting the perfect comeback. Maybe that’s why God gave us two ears and only one mouth. We are to listen twice as much as we talk.

One of the best tools for increasing the effectiveness of your conversations is active listening. Our ability to actively listen to our kids may be the biggest influence on your relationship with them. It will build trust, foster an environment of honesty, and build empathy with their situation, emotions, and feelings.

French philosopher Simone Weil once said, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” So here are seven practical ways to be “generous” in this way with your kids:

  1. Give them your full attention: Silence your smartphone, stop looking at your computer, and try to focus on what they are saying, instead of what you want to say next.
  2. Choose your body language intentionally: 93% of communication is nonverbal. Lean forward slightly, do not cross your arms, make eye contact with them, nod, remove physical barriers between the two of you, and make facial expressions that reflect the emotions of what they are sharing.
  3. Do not immediately judge or evaluate: Lecturing will almost certainly end the conversation. Attempting to understand what they are saying is not the same as agreeing. Your willingness to suspend your judgment will allow the conversation to continue. This is especially true if your teen is opening up to you about something like cutting or an addiction to pornography. Do your best to take a deep breath and remain calm. You want your child to see you as a safe. An extreme reaction will communicate the opposite.
  4. Cultivate Awareness: It might feel like just an ordinary conversation about ballet practice or the soccer game, but if you model listening to the mundane well, your teen will be more prone to come to you about deeper topics.
  5. Paraphrase back what you heard: Choose non-judgmental language to reassure them you heard exactly what they were trying to communicate, such as, “So what I hear you saying is that you feel frustrated about our boundaries with smartphones,” as opposed to, “So what I hear you saying is that you want no accountability with your smartphone.”
  6. Ask open-ended questions: Instead of asking closed-ended questions that require a mere yes-or-no answer, ask questions that demand a meaningful answer like, “What was the best part of your day?” or “How did you feel when she said that about your hair?”
  7. Define Expectations: Try to avoid immediately reassuring, explaining, suggesting, or sharing about your own experiences. Communicate respect by asking something like, “ Would it be most helpful for me to just listen right now, or are you looking for help or advice?”

There will be times you need to set firm boundaries, provide correction, or even establish non-negotiable expectations. But as a general rule that’s not the best starting point. By practicing active listening, you will help your teen feel heard, validated, and respected, encouraging them into a deeper relationship with you.

09.25.17

Teens are becoming adults later than they used to by Erica Pandey

axis.com

Teens are growing up more slowly than they did two decades ago, and today’s 18-year-olds act like the 15-year-olds of the 1990s, per a new study. Researchers found that U.S. teens are engaging in adult activities — drinking, driving, dating and working for pay — later than they used to, delaying the transition from adolescence into adulthood.

The big picture: Avoid falling into the trap of seeing these trends as all good or all bad. “It’s a tradeoff,” lead researcher and author of a new book, iGen, Jean Twenge tells Axios. Today’s teens may be less prepared for adulthood, but they’re safer, with rates of car accidents and teen pregnancies falling dramatically.

The takeaways:
  • 66% of 12th graders surveyed in 2014 had tried alcohol, compared to 81% in 1994
  • 73% of them had drivers’ licenses, down from 85% 20 years prior
  • 58% went on dates, compared to 83% of 12th graders in 1994
  • 56% worked for pay, down from 72% in 1994

The prevalence of risky behaviors has also declined, says Jeffrey Arnett, a professor of psychology whose work is cited in the study. Rates of binge-drinking, teen pregnancy and teen crime are lower than ever.

Yes, but: The transition into adulthood has slowed down so much that Arnett says people age 18 to 29 are living through a new life stage between adolescence and adulthood: “emerging adulthood.” The consequences of this are that teens are less prepared for college and the workplace, Twenge says. “What really strikes me is that ‘adulting’ is now a verb,” she says. “What’s the alternative? Are you gonna go back to being a child?”

Be smart: Some of these behavioral changes can be attributed to technology, specifically the rise of the smartphone, Twenge recently wrote in the Atlantic. Teens are spending less time out getting into trouble and more time at home on their phones. But delaying adulthood also has to do with the fact that people live longer than they used to and more people expect to go to college instead of directly entering the workforce.

Twenge’s Atlantic piece also claimed that heavy smartphone use has an adverse effect on teen mental health. But to say smartphones are destroying a generation is alarmist, tech writer and researcher Alexandra Samuel wrote in JSTOR in response. Data shows that “high school students who use social media a lot aren’t any more depressed than those who use it a little,” she wrote.

But Twenge is right to say technology is quickly widening generational gaps, Samuel tells Axios. “The pace of change is so rapid now that we raise our children in a world completely different from the one we grew up in,” she says.

What’s next: As technology advances, these trends could accelerate, Twenge says. “Soon 18-year-olds could look like the 13-year-olds” of the past.

09.25.17

Ten Steps to Maturity for Teenage Boys by Mark Gregston

heartlightministries.org

Fifteen is the age when a boy moves into manhood while still holding on to the boyish ways of childhood. It is a time when parents need to be extra vigilant to help him make it through the transition smoothly, and therefore not get stuck at this stage for several years.

Age 15 is when your son’s thoughts and his expectations crash like ocean waves amidst a sea of change. It’s the end of one tide and the beginning of another.  At the very least, it’s an awkward season. Increased hormones, growth spurts, voice changes, muscles, and moving from concrete to abstract thinking all tend to make a young man feel a jumble of both invincibility and vulnerability.  And as a first step toward making up his own mind about life, everything you’ve taught him will be questioned.

This is a “convenient” time for a mom and dad to detach and drift alongside their teen as he is busier with extra-curricular activities at school and spends more time away from home. But this is no time for parents to back off. It is a critical and pivotal point in time where a parent can steer a son away from childish thinking and move him toward more mature thinking.

Your son needs to learn from you how to be respectful during a conflict, to be honest in the face of confusion, and to remain obedient in times of disagreement. It’s a time for some serious character-building. Sailing these waters can be a tough time for parents… but more than ever it is the right time to be available and to be firm.

So how do you go about making a smooth transition?

First, determine the “state of your child.” If things are already getting strained in your relationship, move toward them out of compassion, not frustration.  Approach the harshest situations with humility, but carry a big stick.  I don’t mean a big stick in relation to punishment, but I’m referring to your authority as a parent to set the agenda and to say “No” when you need to.

Parents today strive to be a friend of their children more than a parent. But as most soon find out at about age 15 when conflict erupts, they’ll wish that they had more of a “parent role” than a “friend role.” I’m here to tell you from years of experience that it is never too late to jump into the parental role, and trust me; there will never be a better time for boys than at age 15.

If you’re seeing behavioral problems, it is important for your son to know that you will stop at nothing to change the inappropriate direction he is headed. If you don’t know what to do, find help from others who have been there.  Or, contact our on-call coaches for more help.  Just call our Family Crisis Helpline at 866-700-3264 or visit www.heartlightministries.org/crisiscoaching for more information about that service.

A parent will do well to start with the following list to-do’s beginning on your son’s 15th birthday:

  1. Ask your son to begin making more of his own decisions. “Where should we go to eat tonight? What would be good for us to do on our vacation?  What movie should we get this Friday? What charities do you think would be good to support?”
  2. Ask for his input or point of view.  How would you respond in this situation?  How would you discipline differently?  What you do think about what’s happening at school?
  3. Give him an opportunity to respond correctly. He may not respond to your giving him more responsibility appropriately at first. So give him another opportunity to get it right. Display empathy rather than judgment. The way you go about it is sometimes more important than the message itself. Remember, a gentle answer turns away wrath. How you respond to him will determine how he will respond to you. Be slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to listen, gentle, and humble, and give him another chance to respond correctly.
  4. Set clear boundaries. In times of trouble, don’t move away from your child, move toward him. Immaturity demands that you place boundaries around his inappropriate behavior. You may be thinking, “Well, you don’t know my kid and how he mistreats me.” I admit, I don’t. However, I do know that if you do nothing to rein in the bad behavior you see in your 15-year-old son, it’s only going to get worse, not better.
  5. Help your son learn how to say “No” by honoring it when he says “No.” This is another boundary issue. Honoring his boundaries will help him learn to honor others’ boundaries.
  6. Admit when you are wrong. Admitting when you are wrong will help your son understand that everyone makes mistakes, and models how to behave when mistakes happen.
  7. Shift control before you think he is ready for it. Yes, he will blow it, but he will also learn some valuable lessons from doing so, but only when you… (see number 8).
  8. Force him to take responsibility for his decisions. Don’t say, “I told you so,” or, “I should have made that decision instead.” Allow him to figure out what he should have done instead, and force him to own up to the consequences of his choices.
  9. Encourage him in his good decisions. Point your comments toward his successes, not his failures.
  10. When your son responds with maturity and responsibility, then move him up to the next level. Expand the limit and expectations and expect him to meet new requirements. For instance: “Honey, I think it’s great that you have a job now. If you are willing to save your money, I will match it and help you buy your first car.”

I encourage you to take advantage of this time to help your son make a strong transition to the smoother waters of responsible adulthood.  Age fifteen is a great time to sail alongside him through the rough and tumble waters of adolescence. Thankfully, he won’t be 15 forever.

09.18.17

Hi! I am praying for you right now! 

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I’ll rest from my labor. But today I have work to do. #bonhoeffer
 
To focus on Jesus as just an example is to reduce him from sovereign Savior to ethical coach and to transform the gospel into law. #keller
 
Bad evangelism says: I’m right, you’re wrong, and I would love to tell you about it. #keller
 
The goal in life is not to be in charge, but to depend on and rest in the wisdom, power and grace of the One who is and will be in charge. #tripp
 
FYI:
1. Communicating with Teens… https://www.heartlightministries.org/2017/09/communicating-with-teens-2/?utm_source=CC+Master+List&utm_campaign=8fa4ead912-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_05&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5926458580-8fa4ead912-126726953
 
2. Bad Fad Alert: Hot Water Challenge… https://homeword.com/2017/09/07/bad-fad-alert-hot-water-challenge/?mc_cid=9aeff038c4&mc_eid=759fd44a0d#.WbUwWK2ZN0s
Parents your role really matters… https://homeword.com/articles/parents-your-role-really-matters/?mc_cid=2784de0f84&mc_eid=759fd44a0d#.WbCRt62ZN0s
 
3. Loving your hard to like kid… https://www.reviveourhearts.com/true-woman/blog/loving-your-hard-kid/
 
4. Crippling Behaviors That Keep Children from Growing into Leaders… https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2014/01/16/7-crippling-parenting-behaviors-that-keep-children-from-growing-into-leaders/#d1eec775957b
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
10 Steps on Giving Your Volunteers Feedback by Dale Hudson
Criticism vs. Feedback: Why You Must Know the Difference as a Leader by Dale Hudson
Understanding Teens and Their Smart Phone Habits (emarketer)
Is the Bible Relevant Today? by J. Warner Wallace
 

Here are 2 video links I think you might like to see:

http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/57201/our-stories
 
http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/69175/a-new-creation?utm_source=WorshipHouse%20Media%20–%20Around%20the%20House%20(CD%20Update)&utm_medium=email&utm_content=spot1-2208619&utm_campaign=nl-08/30/2017-2208619
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
Bouncing Back

Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket. –Proverbs 25:11 (NLT)

As a junior in high school, I was devastated when I was cut from the top volleyball team and sent to the second team. I felt disappointed, embarrassed and dejected. That evening, I spoke with a friend who passed on these words of wisdom, “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce back that matters.” I wrote the quote on my mirror and committed to doing my best for this new team, instead of sulking over my personal loss. Instead of continuing to fall and spiral, I committed to bounce back.

What I learned that day is that what happens to me in life doesn’t count as much as how I react to those things. I had a choice the day I was cut from the team: I could wallow in misery and quit the team, or I could choose to fight through my circumstances and work hard to improve. Each day, choices like these present themselves. When people are cruel, I can choose to accept their apology or let my bitterness grow. When I am treated unfairly, I can vengefully plot a way to get even, or I can seek the Lord’s wisdom and demonstrate patience as He shows me what to do. When I am fired from a job, I can learn from why things did not work or I can blame everyone else around me for my misfortune and never learn, grow or change. When I am congratulated for a job well done, I can either pat myself on the back or thank the Lord for providing me with the skills to succeed.

Life throws different circumstances our way every day, both good and bad. Wherever you are in your life, it is important to remember that people are watching and looking to see how you are living your life. You will long be remembered, not only for what happened to you in your life but for how you handled life’s circumstances. When those circumstances cause you to fall, I challenge you to bounce back!

TAKE A MOMENT (Anonymous)

Recently I took a few moments to reflect on Psalm 139.  The following is my personal, devotional paraphrase of the Psalm that I wrote as in response to that reflection.

Here is my Psalm 139 paraphrase …..

You know my heart – You have searched me – You have gone the distance –taken the initiative – and therefore You know me.

You know what I think–You know what motivates me to action and contemplation because You know my every thought.

You know what I do – what my habits are – You are very familiar with my ways – the ways in which I move through life – from my active and social times to my quiet, somber and restful times – You know me well enough to discern my every habit.  You know me better than I know myself!

You know what I will say – all of it – before I even say it – every word of it!

Even though You know me – You love me.  I know this because Your hand of love and protection surrounds and covers me – You know everything about me – heart, mind, body and soul and yet You still love me that much.

I don’t get it.  This concept is impossible for me to grasp.

I don’t know if I can take so close a relationship – it scares me – I want to hide – but there is no place to hide from You. There is nowhere in the highest heavens or the lowest depths to hide – You are everywhere.

I can’t get up early and try to fly away.  It doesn’t matter how far I travel.  It doesn’t matter where or when I go anywhere.  You will still be there with me, guiding me, holding me tightly.

I can’t use darkness as a cloak – the light of Your presence just melts the darkness away.  You will still see all of me – my heart, my thoughts, my actions, my words.  And I will still be the object of Your love.

You made me – I am Your creation – not some random grouping of cells and DNA – I have a soul – an innermost being – that only You could make –  You gave me my mother – I am no one else’s daughter – I came from her because you placed me – heart, mind, body and soul – within her.

I am unique – tenderly planted and watered from conception – created as others, yet different from them all – I am Your wonderful work – from the depths of my soul, I know that.  I know that I am Yours and for that reason alone I am wonderful.  What a wonderful thing You have done!

I am in Your book.  Somewhere in Your book there is a chapter about me – written when I was only a thought in Your mind’s eye.  You knew what I would look like – I was not a surprise or a secret to You – You thought of me, wrote of me, planned my days for me – and then you knit me together like a perfectly fitting garment – exactly matching the vision You had of and for me.

You are always thinking precious thoughts about me.  Not negative thoughts.  Not thoughts of disappointment.  Not thoughts of anger.  Just precious thoughts!

You never stop thinking about me.  You think more about me that I do!  Even when I am sound asleep, resting my mind – You are still thinking about me.  I couldn’t even begin to count the thoughts you have of me.  There are not enough numbers!

You are so grand.  And, You are so good.  You are the creator who knows everything.  You write it all down in Your book. You can do all of this – so why don’t You stop evil?  I am the object of Your love – why don’t You keep evil away from me? Why did You include those stories in the pages of Your book? They are Your enemies.  They intend to harm You.  They lie about You – hate You – speak lies in Your name.

I hate them!  I abhor them!  They are my sworn enemies – all I feel for them is hated.  They hate You so I hate them.

I wonder what You think of them?  You created them too. Are they the objects of Your love?  Do You love them in spite of their failings – as you do me?  Must I love what You love? Must I love an enemy?  This kind of thinking makes me anxious.

I want you to search deeper inside me.  No more trying to run and hide.  I want You to know my heart – I want You to examine every part of me.  Examine these disquieting thoughts I have.  If my way of thinking and being is taking me in the wrong direction, lead me in the right one – always lead me in the right way.  May I live my days – heart, mind, body and spirit according to the vision You had for me – the one You wrote in Your book.

Blessings, Kendall

09.18.17

10 Steps on Giving Your Volunteers Feedback by Dale Hudson

relevantchildrensministry.com

As children’s ministry leaders our calling is to help bring out the best in our volunteers.  It shouldn’t be what you want from them, it should be about what you want for them.

See yourself as a coach, because that’s what you are.  And a big part of coaching your volunteers is providing them with feedback.

There is an art to giving feedback.  Done incorrectly, it will bring more harm than good.  But done correctly, it will challenge, inspire and propel your volunteers to new levels of ministry.

Here are 10 tips on how to effectively give your volunteers feedback.
#1 – Establish a relationship with your volunteers.  When a volunteer knows you care about them and want the best for them, it will open their heart to receive feedback.

#2 – See feedback as going on a journey with your volunteers.  Feedback should be ongoing and be taking them to a destination.

#3 – Give positive feedback when your volunteers do a good job.  If you only give negative feedback, volunteers will perceive you as unappreciative and petty.

#4 – Schedule times to meet with key volunteers individually and provide them with feedback.

#5 – Give feedback when a volunteer’s behavior is negatively affecting the team.  Do this privately.

#6 – Avoid giving feedback when it is something the volunteer has no control over.

#7 – Avoid giving feedback when a volunteer is highly emotional after a difficult event.

#8 – Only give feedback when you can do so in a calm and thorough manner.

#9 – Avoid feedback that is only based on your personal preferences.

#10 – When giving a volunteer feedback about an area he or she is struggling in, come with some possible solutions.  The purpose of the feedback is to help the volunteer move forward.

09.18.17

Criticism vs. Feedback: Why You Must Know the Difference as a Leader by Dale Hudson
relevantchildrensministry.com

As a leader, you are tasked with helping the people on your team grow.  One of the key ways to do this is by providing them with verbal instruction.  But it must be the right kind of verbal instruction.

You see, there is a difference between criticism and feedback.  A big difference.  And it is vital to know the difference.

Let’s compare the two.

Criticism points out what is wrong and leaves the person feeling defeated.  Feedback is a conversation that talks about an issue, discusses how to make it better and leaves the person in good spirits.

Criticism leaves the person knowing what they did wrong.  Feedback leaves the person knowing what they can work on to get better.

Criticism leaves the person feeling alone.  Feedback leaves the person feeling supported.

Criticism means to hurt.  Feedback means to help.

Criticism focuses on misses.  Feedback focuses on how to complete the mission.

Criticism comes from a place of fear and insecurity.  Feedback comes from a place of confidence.

Criticism is only negative.  Feedback points people to the positive.

Criticism says there is only one right way.  Feedback helps people figure out a better way for themselves.

Criticism does all the talking.  Feedback talks and listens.  It’s a two way conversation.

Criticism is emotional.  Feedback is calm and cool.

Criticism only gives answers.  Feedback asks questions.

Criticism is done openly.  Feedback is done privately.

Criticism is rude.  Feedback is respectful.

Criticism chastises.  Feedback challenges.

Criticism focuses on the past.  Feedback points to the future.

Criticism is blame and shame.  Feedback is about knowing and growing.

Criticism is critiquing.  Feedback is coaching.

Criticism only points out what is wrong.  Feedback points out how to improve.

Criticism is self-serving.  Feedback has the other person’s best interests in mind.

Criticism destroys.  Feedback develops.

Giving feedback is an art and can be learned.  Here some articles that will help you become a master at giving feedback.

09.18.17

Understanding Teens and Their Smart Phone Habits

emarketer.com

Many say they could not go more than a day without using one

Yes, teens are digital natives. But that’s just half the story of what makes teen life so different now from a generation ago. Coming of age at a time when smartphone ownership is the norm, today’s teens are mobile natives as well. The constant connectedness a smartphone enables—or imposes—is a central fact of life for them.

Though teens still lag behind young adults, a large majority now have smartphones. And for those who have one, it drives their daily digital activity, as explored in eMarketer’s latest report, “US Teens and Their Smartphones: The All-Purpose Device for Liking, Snapping, Ad Avoiding, Shopping and More.” (Subscribers to eMarketer PRO can access the report here. Nonsubscribers can purchase the report here.)

eMarketer estimates that 78.9% of 12- to 17-year-olds in the US will be smartphone users this year. That puts them on par with the total adult population, for which smartphone penetration is expected to be 77.1% this year. But teens still fall short of adult millennials in terms of smartphone penetration.

Older teens are more likely than younger teens and tweens to have a smartphone, so penetration is higher if one excludes 12-year-olds. December 2016 polling by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research identified 89% of 13- to 17-year-olds in the US as smartphone users.

Then again, as feature phones fade from the marketplace—and as hand-me-down phones from parents have become more likely to be smartphones—the age at which youngsters first get a smartphone is declining. In a March 2017 report by Think with Google (based on August 2016 polling of US internet users by Ipsos), respondents ages 13 to 17 who have smartphones reported getting their first one at a median age of 12. “Now they have established habits by age 13,” said Jason Dorsey, co-founder and millennials and Gen Z researcher at The Center for Generational Kinetics.

Once they get a smartphone, teens are true to stereotype in becoming very attached to it. A YouGov survey in May 2017 illustrated this when it asked 13- to 17-year-olds in the US how long they could go without using their smartphone. Nearly four in 10 said they could not make it through a single day.

The smartphone camera has become central to teens’ social interaction, as reflected in the rise of camera-centric platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. Teens have not abandoned Facebook, but the time and emotional energy they spend on it has declined. And Facebook penetration among US teens is on a slightly downward trajectory.

Underlying teens’ extensive use of smartphones for social networking is the scope of their overall engagement with social media. eMarketer estimates that 70.8% of 12- to 17-year-olds in the US will use social networks at least once a month this year.

As with smartphone penetration, the proportion of teens counted as social network users varies depending on the exact age group a survey employs. In Deloitte polling conducted online in November 2016, 93% of 14- to 19-year-olds in the US identified themselves as social network users.

09.18.17

Is the Bible Relevant Today? by J. Warner Wallace

coldcasechristianity.com

I have a drawer in my desk that’s filled with manuals and instruction guides. Every time I purchase a new device (whether it’s an electric garden tool or a smart phone), I store the original instruction manual in this drawer. I occasionally return to these guides when I have a problem or need an answer. But, about once a year, I sift through these documents and throw many of them away. The discarded manuals are still trueand skillfully written, but they’re now irrelevant; I’ve mastered the devices they describe, and I’m able to overcome any problem I may encounter on my own. But, while my collection of instruction manuals shrinks every year, my collection of Bibles and related study materials increases. Why? Because the Bible continues to answer life’s most important questions. It solves the most pressing problem we face as humans; a problem we simply can’t resolve on our own.

My experience as a cold-case homicide detective is partially to blame for my growing Biblical library. The instruction manuals in my desk drawer would never have become part of my collection if they didn’t correctly describe the devices they claimed to support. Their accuracy is the key to their relevancy. When I first investigated the claims of the New Testament accounts, I knew their relevancy would be similarly dependent upon the degree to which they were true. I was thirty-five years old and a seasoned detective when I first began to evaluate the reliability of the Gospels using the same skill set I applied to my criminal investigations. Were the accounts written early enough to have been produced by eyewitnesses? Could they be corroborated by additional early witnesses, external archaeological or internal linguistic evidence? Were the accounts corrupted or changed over time? Did the authors possess a bias that would motivate them to lie? I investigated these attributes of the gospels and became convinced they were telling me the truth about Jesus of Nazareth. But their reliability and truthfulness were only part of the story. The gospels also accurately described something I observed in murderers.

I’ve arrested my fair share of cold-case killers, and most of them were law-abiding, upstanding citizens by the time I met them, many years after they brutally killed their victims. The more I spoke with these murderers, the more I realized they were just like… me. And you. And everyone else on the planet. Some had become fire captains, some teachers, some businessmen. They were good parents, reliable family members, and trustworthy employees. But they were all protecting a dark secret from their past; striving daily to convince a watching world they were good people, even though they had done something unspeakable. None of these killers committed more than one murder, and none would likely commit another. But each bore the burden of knowing who they really were, despite appearances.

As I investigated each cold-case homicide, I came to realize these murderers weren’t unlike the rest of us. If you think you’re incapable of committing such a crime, you’ve likely underestimated the possible scenarios you might face, and overestimated how you might respond. Even if you don’t think you’re capable of such atrocities, I bet there’s still some secret you don’t want others to discover; we’re all moral law-breakers of one kind or another. The penal code in my state describes crimes that are as old as human history. In fact, many of our statutes still reflect the Biblical language of the Old Testament. Some things change, but our fallen, base desires grudgingly remain. We are moral outlaws to one degree or another.

And that’s why the Bible is still relevant today. The instruction manuals I routinely discard are still true, but they are no longer necessary. The Bible, however, is both true and necessary. The New Testament accurately describes the Savior, and it accurately describes our need for a Savior. It provides the only solution to the most important problem we’ll ever encounter: our separation from a holy, perfect God. We can’t solve this problem on our own; Jesus is still the onlyanswer. That’s why I’m running out of space for my collection of Biblical commentaries, resources and references, but my desk drawer is more than big enough to hold all my manuals. I’ll eventually master every device and make the manuals irrelevant, but I’ll never overcome my need for a Savior. The claims of the Bible are both true and necessary. The Bible is still relevant today.