Monthly Archives: June 2013

Book Review: Do Hard Things (Written by Students)

dohardthings1This is a treat.  This book was read by students preparing for a mission trip this summer.  Each of them wrote a short review of the book.  Since this book is written primarily for teenagers in a rebellion against low expectations, isn’t it fitting that teenagers write the review?  Enjoy their honesty and practical reviews.

The Book:  “Do Hard Things”

The Good:

  • “Loved how each chapter had a story…illustrations…” helped understanding
  • “Good ideas & application”
  • Practical – “gave examples…how to do them and how to overcome obstacles
  • “No two people have the same point of view, everyone is meant for a different purpose”.  This book helps a teenager understand this premise.
  • Inspirational stories of people who “pursued what their heart was telling them to do”
  • “Loved chapter 3” and the examples of teens who were unqualified but God still used in mighty ways.
  • “Amazing, inspiring book”.  “Since it’s written by people close to our age, it makes it seem more realistic”
  • “It shows me that I’m not alone, there are tons of people out there doing what I am to do”

The Bad:

  • Too many stories and too much detail of those storieschuck-norris
  • “Didn’t care for the campaigning or advertising in the book”
  • “Some of things don’t apply to me”
  • “Repetitive.  A drawn-out feeling”
  • “Needed more Chuck Norris.”
  • “Examples were only that of perfect success stories”
  • “TOO MANY STORIES, Stop Bragging”
  • “Barely mentioned God in the beginning”
  • Took me a long time “to actually say the word rebulutionary”

The Grade:  B (Average Grade)

Reasons for the Grade:

  • “Challenging.  Relatable.  Pushed me in my relationship with God.”
  • “Not a big fan”.  Not that challenging.
  • “Only talked about success stories”
  • “Very repetitive”
  • “Good & moving book that inspires me and others to step up”
  • “Very good book, but it hasn’t…pulled me to be a teenager like them”
  • “Really great book and it made me realize our generation does need a wake up call”

(Encouraging Side Note:  Each student was given the assignment of coming up with their own “Rebulutionary Action Plan”.  Let me just tell you, I was so impressed.  The plans they have for their lives…they truly are rebelling against low expectations, and I can’t wait to see what they will do for God’s Kingdom next!)



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Evangelism & Discipleship – Is it really both?

I love to fish.  For me, the best part is the jolt of the fish attacking the bait and reeling that sucker in to see how big it is…so I can be sure to add a few inches in my fish story.  Catching the fish is fun, but reeling in the fish is a huge part of it.  That’s how I feel about evangelism & discipleship.  Evangelism is the jolt of the fish attacking the bait (not saying the Gospel is the bait), but is exciting that someone accepted God’s free gift.  But if you don’t disciple that new believer…it’s like just leaving that fish out there on the line…you’re missing a huge part of the experience!

Read these verses:  Matthew 28:19-20

Okay, now read them again and circle the first 2 verbs in that passage – Go & Make Disciples.  I think we often emphasize the Go part (and with good reason, we need to go and share the Gospel with others), but we also often forget to mention, implement, or dig into the difficult work of discipleship.

You see, discipleship takes time, it takes a great deal of effort, it takes patience, it takes spiritual maturity…are you still with me?  Discipleship is hard!  You may not even see the results until much later in life…anyone involved in youth ministry knows how true this can be.

We live in a world of instant gratification.  Minute rice, instant video download, fast lane on the freeway…there’s even instant underpants (just add water!).  But discipleship is just the opposite.  There isn’t instant gratification.  Sure, there will be victories and joys of Jesus coming and changing one’s life.  But there will be many battles of the old self, old life, and old habits.  Those will drain you, disappoint you, and want to defeat you.

But, take heart.  The time you spend in discipleship is worth it…Jesus chose 12 disciples…and 11 of those men set out to change the world.  Who knows what may happen if you choose someone to mentor & disciple.  Watch this video, and see what kind of impact you can have…you too can change a generation!

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Double Book Review: Visit the Sick & Impacting the Next Generation

Book:  Visit the Sick, by Brian Croft.Visit_the_sick

The Good.  I may surprise you with this statement, but I have never underlined more in a book than this little book.  I’m serious.  I learned so much about the ministry of visiting the sick.  Maybe it is because this does not come naturally to me.  Maybe you go to a hospital, and it is your element.  It doesn’t matter if it is a heart attack or a broken leg, you know what to do, what Scripture to read, and what to say in your prayer.  Or maybe you are more like me, and you could use some help in these areas.  Well, this book goes above and beyond the call of duty to help you visit the sick.

The Bad.  The only thing this book is missing is a CD where you can print off the appendix materials.  Or maybe a small printable bookmark/pamphlet you could put inside your Bible to help with visiting the sick.

The Grade:  A+.  That’s right, a perfect grade.  Maybe because it was just what the doctor ordered (get it?).  But mostly because it provides a perfect balance of practical and Biblical advice on how to visit the sick.  Every pastor should read this book.  As a youth pastor, I don’t have as many hospital visits as other pastors, but when I do, I want to have an impact on a hurting individual, I want to bring the gospel to room 221, I want to lift up someone’s broken spirit…well, I learned “I” can’t do those things.  But God can through me, and this book will help you accomplish those things.


Book:  Impacting the Next Generation, by Mel Walker.impactingthenextgeneration

The Good.  Where was this book 6 years ago when I started in youth ministry?  Seriously.  These are lessons I had to learn the hard way.  I found myself saying “Now you tell me” many times as I read.  Not your fault Mel!  But realy, this book provides practical ways to truly impacting young people in the short time you have them in your ministry.  Another good is each point is taken directly from Scripture.  I’m a big proponent of the line of thinking – if you are going to convince me to implement something in the ministry I serve, it better be supported in God’s Word.  And each point had that backing.  Well done.

The Bad.  I’m the kind of guy that enjoys personal stories.  There was some ministry stories within the book, but would have enjoyed more.  The 2 Timothy 2:22 principles were repeated several times, and could  have been consolidated in one section…but maybe that was the author’s point – that this verse is pretty important.

The Grade:  A.  Like Staples has an easy button, I needed an “Amen” button for this book.  This is how I do or want to do youth ministry.  I loved the points and was totally on board with the practical applications of Scripture.  In my opinion, this must be in the hands of every youth pastor, especially those beginning their first ministry.

**Special Note from the Author Mel Walker:  If any of your readers would like a copy of “Impacting the Next Generation” – they can get copies from me for only $5. Take a look at:


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3 Ways to Treasure Your Kids

Recently, I read an article about a dad that spends $440 on his cable bill to make sure he spends quality time with his kids.  He had good intentions, but I’m pretty sure that poor guy missed the mark.  It was like a hunter with a clear shot of a deer and shot his own foot.  Good try.

Sadly, there are times when my intentions may be good to spend time with my kids, but I miss the mark.  My kids are all preschool age and under, and I constantly hear from parents of older kids, “They grow up so fast”.  I don’t want to let time just fly by, and not try my very best to build memories, impact my kids with my time, and allow my kids to feel like they are treasured by their dad.

This list is not exhaustive by any means, but here are 3 ways I want to do, to treasure my kids:

The B-I-B-L-E.   Each night, we gather in one of their rooms and we read the Bible together.  We are currently reading through The Jesus Storybook Bible.  This book is fantastic.  It points each story back to Jesus, something I always want to do with my kids, is point them to the Savior.  Sure, there are times when giggles overcome the story (like one time when I read the name Nebuchadnezzar, and my kids couldn’t stop laughing for a solid 10 minutes), and there will be times when you have to encourage them to pay attention, but it is all worth it.  I love getting them involved, asking questions, doing motions to the story…I have the opportunity to make their daily Bible reading fun, and I try to take full advantage.

Out of Cell Phone Range.  One of the biggest daggers that I have received thus far in my parenting career is when my oldest daughter said “I wish Daddy would put his cell phone down and watch what I am doing”.  I didn’t hear her, but my wife did and pointed it out to me.  Ouch!  That one stung for a while.  So, when I come home from work, or if I am playing with the kids, I try (notice I said try) to not have my cell phone in my pocket.  Dinner table, playing outside, vacation…these are times when the cell phone needs to be “out of range”.  This all may sound silly to some of you, but whatever may cause you distraction, remove it, and give your attention to your kids.  Whether it is a phone, the TV, computer, or work-related papers/items…push them to the side for your kids.

Daddy (Mommy) Dates.  My oldest calls just going to pick up something at the store a “Daddy date”.  And I love that.  I love spending one-on-one time with my kids, and I hope I can sustain this special time as they grow older.  I know it will get harder and will take a larger commitment, but it is something that shows each child they are treasured and valued.  This is opportunity for purposeful and important conversations to happen, and it also just time to get to know each other and show them love.  I’m looking forward to many dates in the years ahead…with me, not with boys.  Yeah, I’m fine with them being preschool age forever =)

These are just a few ways that I treasure my kids.  What do you do with your kids to treasure them?  I’d love to hear and learn from you!


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