Monthly Archives: October 2013

Book Review: Prayer Coach

The Good:  I’ll get straight to the point, the two things l liked best about this book:  practicality & the golden nuggets.  I’ll start with the golden nuggets, because you are probably wondering if that is a new type of cereal or candy bar that comes with the book.  What I mean is some of the phrases and thoughts in this book are simply pure gold.  Can I share a few?  “If something is big enough to worry about, it’s big enough to pray about”.  “Prayer is helplessness plus faith”.  “Sin is like earwax that must be removed in order for God’s voice to come through loud and clear.”prayer coach

On the practicality meter, it would be a 5.0 for sure (that is high for a practicality meter reading, if you didn’t know and if there was such a thing in real life).  Written by a pastor, you can tell he has spent a great deal of time applying his principles to his church and family life, because there are examples of how to implement more prayer everywhere you turn in this book.  It is fantastic.  Let me give you a personal example.  He suggested offering to pray for the teacher in parent/teacher conferences.  May seem simple to you, but I tried that (my daughter is in Kindergarten, so we had our FIRST conference this past month).  And man, the teacher’s face just lit up and she almost screamed yes!  She was thrilled with our offer, and we were able to share God’s love in a special way.  That’s just one example!

The Bad:  Very rarely, but the author takes things a little too far, whether in sarcasm or in practice.  On page 218, I didn’t appreciate his permissiveness in allowing foul language while using accountability (although it was “bleeped” out).  In my mind, you can still be stern and serious with someone in your accountability without using coarse language.  Frankly, I felt like that part of the chapter was not needed, and the liberty given was not warranted.

The Grade:  B+.  You know, maybe you have a prayer life like Bubba Watson’s golf swing,  self-taught, never needing a coach,  But I sure could use a prayer coach.  This book provides the coaching, training, and ideas to improve a prayer life that can always use some improvement.  So, if your prayer life needs no motivation, never needs a halftime speech, and rarely needs any fine-tuning, than this book isn’t for you.  But, if your prayer life is not perfect, gets stuck in ruts, and could use some energy, give this book a try.

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3 Ways to Face Criticism in Ministry…Jesus-Style

Have you ever faced criticism in your ministry?  Either you responded with a question like “Is Bill Gates rich?” or a denominational question about the Pope, or you are new to ministry.  Not to be a downer here if you haven’t already, in due time, you will face some sort of criticism of your ministry.  Criticism comes from a variety of sources:  well-meaning parents, mean parents, accidentally by a student, incidentally by a student, consistently by a student, a senior pastor, your senior pastor, various church members, your wife, your kids, yourself…the list goes on.

Well you know who else faced criticism in ministry?  I know.  I kind of gave it away in the title.  Yes, it’s Jesus.  One clear example is found in John 11.  Let me quickly set this one up for you.  He just lost a dear friend.  He was so deeply moved, in verse 35, it says he wept.  I’ll give you a second to read that verse (just one second).  In verse 36, we see people empathize with Jesus.  However, in verse 37 is where we find criticism, basically saying, “Why didn’t Jesus do something about this?”

It’s interesting the circumstances. Jesus was suffering from a personal tragedy, yet people voiced their displeasure with his ministry to others.  Sound familiar?  Isn’t it usually after a long, exhausting overnighter that left you excited at decisions that were made, when you heard from a parent “Where was the youth pastor when these two snuck off together?”  Or maybe after a long, intense, spiritually and emotionally charged mission trip, a student that doesn’t attend complained “Why haven’t you planned any fun events this summer?”

How do we respond to these types of pins that let the air out of our ministry balloon?  Here are 3 ways to face criticism, Jesus-style:criticism2

Don’t Let It Affect Your MOVEMENT

I love the next verse following the criticism in verse 37.  It says “Jesus, deeply moved again”.  It was almost as if John was taking a shot here.  “Did you hear that, critical people, Jesus is hurting here!  Hello, do I need to give you more time to read verse 35?”  Just in case you didn’t notice the first time he WEPT!  It seems like John is sticking up for His friend and Savior here.

But the main point is this:  The criticism did not stop Jesus from being moved with compassion.  It didn’t stunt his emotions.  It didn’t stop his movement towards the cave.  How often does criticism stop us in our tracks?  Where we forget about the life decisions made at camp or the spiritual impact of an event or lesson, and we focus on the words of a few.  Jesus didn’t let it stop Him.

Don’t Let It Affect Your MINISTRY

God has given you a purpose for your ministry.  It is important you do what is best for the students that you are shepherding.  Sometimes you have to look past the criticism when you know what you are doing is clearly the ministry God-directed.  Sure, you have conversations, but your ministry cannot change to please the minority.

Look here.  Jesus told them to remove the stone in verse 39.  Martha saw this as stupid (actually she saw this as smelly, but you know what I mean).  Jesus took the time to explain this was for the glory of God, and he continued.

See what I mean.  Some will see what you are doing as foolish.  Maybe you cancel a traditional event, or you cut back office hours to spend on campus.  As long as it is God-led, you have the support of key leaders and administration; you may just have to tell people, this is being done for God’s glory, and keep moving.  That’s what Jesus did.

Don’t Let It Affect Your MISSION

What is our ultimate mission?  I would hope it would resemble the great commission, and your mission is to reach students with the gospel and make disciples.  Criticism can stop us from completing this mission.  “This will cost too much money”.  “Students will never listen to this…or come to this”.  “The youth pastor looks too much like Mr. Bean” (Okay that last one may just apply to me).

Check this out.  According to most of your Bibles, the story of Jesus Raises Lazarus is over.  Or is it?  In verse 45, because of this miracle, what happens to several of Mary’s friends?  They believe!  That’s right.  Because Jesus didn’t let criticism stop Him from His ultimate mission, the lost saw the power of Jesus, and they believed!

What if you stop short of your mission because of criticism?  Would it result in the lost not seeing the power of Jesus and believing?  Don’t miss the story in your ministry either, because in the next verse in your story, there may be a teenager that becomes a child of God.  Jesus knew the end of the story, and he kept with His mission.

 

Your movement, ministry, and mission are too important.  Maybe criticism is the stone in your way, and you just need Jesus to take away the stone.  And, in the end, God will get the glory, and you might see a miracle happen in your ministry…you might see students come to Jesus.

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Funeral Bible Passages & Resources

Over the past couple years, I’ve been collecting passages that can be used in a funeral service.  A funeral is a time where I never want to be unprepared.  I’m hoping this will help you as you minister to hurting families, and also allow the service to be a time where the Gospel can be shared with the grieving.  After reading, PLEASE share some of the passages that are on your list.

FUNERAL OF SOMEONE CLOSE/KNOWN

Psalm 90:12-17

FUNERAL OF DEAR SAINT “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”

Psalm 116:15funeral
Ecclesiastes 7:1-2
Acts 20:24
Job 19:26-27

COMFORT FOR THE LIVING

Isaiah 65:17-19; 25
Isaiah 35:3-10
Colossians 2:5
Matthew 11:28-30

EVANGELISTIC MESSAGE

Acts 2:28, 37-39
John 14:6
Ephesians 2:8-9
John 3:16
Romans 10:9-10
I John 5:13

VERSATILE PASSAGES

Psalm 23
Psalm 84:10-12

DEATH OF A BABY

2 Samuel 12:14-31
Matthew 19:14

UNEXPECTED DEATH

I Corinthians 13:12

 

GRAVESITE READINGS:

I Thess. 4 (End Times)
I Corinthians 15:20-23, 42-44,50-58 

 

ARTICLES & QUOTES

Lee Strobel – Suffering

D.L. Moody once said: “Some day you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now; I shall have gone up higher, that is all, out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal- a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto His glorious body.”

Alexander Maclaren:  “Fleeting as our days are, they are ennobled by our being permitted to be God’s “tools”; and although we the workers have to pass, our work may be established. That life will not die which has done the will of God. But we must walk in the favor of God, so that there can flow down from us deeds which breed not shame but shall outlast the perishable earth and follow their doers into the dwelling places of those eternal habitations”

http://youtu.be/0osq6PSrMek – Matt Chandler on Death

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Double Book Review: I’m a Church Member & Closing the Window

churchmemberBook Review:  I Am a Church Member by Thom Rainer

The Good:  First off, bravo for the impact of this book, yet it taking only 30-45 minutes to read.  Don’t let the brevity full you, like a featherweight boxer it still packs a punch.  This book contains 6 chapters and 6 ways to become a better church member, each with Biblical backing and strong conviction and practicality.  Rainer does a great job combating what he calls the “country club” philosophy of church membership and promotes a giving, serving, and putting others first membership philosophy.  The opening illustration in each chapter keep the reading fresh and applicable to real life.  If anything, you have to read the “child facing two scenarios” illustration in chapter 6.  Priceless.

The Bad:  The pledge in the back of each chapter may be a little corny.  I get the concept, but could be condensed in the final chapter holding all the truths.

The Grade:  A.  There a great misunderstanding of both the importance of being a member of a church and also the responsibilities associated with church membership.  This books helps solve that mystery.  It is a much needed kick in the pants for those that would rather their backsides not be bothered and heavily cushioned during a church service.  It puts people in motion to properly serve and function in the church body, like Christ, the head of the church, intended.

Book Review:  Closing the Window by Tim Chester

closing-the-windowThe Good:  My fingers may get tired from typing if I listed how important this book is in today’s society, especially for young people.  Here’s a stat for you…93% of teenagers have access to the internet.  Do you know the percentage of teenage boys who have been exposed to internet pornography…93%!  Girls aren’t far behind, with exposure at 62%.  I realize this is under the GOOD column.  Here is the good news, this book provides a solution to the problem.  It offers a five-tier process that breaks through the myths and straw-like answers that often fail, and presents a Biblical, life-transforming model that withstands for the long haul.

What’s great about this book is its approach.  While there are underlying reasons for the use of porn, it goes even deeper than the emotional or personality struggles.  The solution starts and ends with God.  Think about it, you really think someone can defeat porn using filters, accountability, or DVD pass codes.  Come on, those should be used, but the user will find a way around those man-made barricades if he or she so desires.  Removing porn from your life is not about what you are losing or blocking, but what you gain.  Many try to take porn away, but don’t replace it, and then find themselves returning to fill the void.  Let me use a quote from the book to explain:  “What happens if you weigh a life with porn against a life without porn?  Put like that, porn will always win, for it offers excitement, pleasure, thrills…by definition…a lesser life…weighing a life with porn against a life lived for God’s glory.  Porn versus glory, porn versus God, fleeting pleasure versus lasting pleasure, shame versus glory, destruction versus eternal life:  which looks the lesser now?”

The Bad:  The only bad…how this book is not better known (this picture above was only available on google images) & how this book is not required for every man to read.  Let me ask you a question:  Do you or anyone you know ever struggled with porn?  Virtually everyone will answer yes to that question.  Whether you need help, or you are in a position to offer help, you need to consider reading this book.

The Grade:  A+.  Please listen to me when I say this, this is not just a book for someone that is addicted to pornography.  This book will help you in your marriage, it will provide you with a proper view of women, and along the way provide Biblical and life-lasting ways to defeat lust in your life.  I’ve read in multiple articles that this book is the best book on counseling someone who is addicted to pornography.  It did not disappoint.  Read it to get out of your addiction.  Read it to help others with their addiction.  Read it to prevent addiction.  Read it to bring you closer to your spouse (or to your future spouse) and read it to become closer in your relationship with God.

 

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