Monthly Archives: July 2015

Why Turning 33 is Significant

At a young age, people began realizing he was special. He had a gift. He was wise beyond his years. At times, even his parents were overshadowed by his brilliance and insight. Although we do not know much about his childhood, history picks it up in his early 30’s.

Although he lived in the early 1st century, we still find a plethora of information. We read how this man started a revolution. His exploits are still talked about today, worldwide. His compassion for people is an example to many. His life is the epitome of a life well-lived. His example is taught in many places as one to follow and replicate as close as possible. His teachings are studied closely on many academic levels. Those that follow him are sometimes called fanatics, freaks, or outcasts. But, even in the persecution both is word and in deed, people are willing to follow, even to the point of death.214106743_3aebc05551

You would think with the level of following, this man would have lived a long life. But who ever said that to live an important and significant life, you have to live a long life. To the shock of many of his friends, this man was murdered. Because of his teachings, which some viewed as radical and blasphemous, he was killed by the religious leaders of the day. Without proper trial and witnesses, this man was rushed to capital punishment, receiving torturous beatings and ill-treatment along the way.

Yet, most historians have told us his death was at the age of 33. So young for a man with such potential, such influence, such compassion…a tragedy to many. That is, until you hear the name of that man. That man’s name is Jesus, the King of Kings, and the Savior of the World. Jesus Christ, the Messiah! With only 33 years of life, He turned the world upside down. He defeated sin and death. He wrestled with the enemy and pinned him the ground for all eternity. A ministry full of miracles, timeless teaching, healing, encouragement, counsel, and wisdom.

For some, they would say His life was too short. But those that know who Jesus is, they know the significance of his life. They know what He accomplished, and the eternal consequences of His death and resurrection. They know His death was needed to be forgiven. They know the Savior’s life was given, not taken, so we might have eternity in paradise.

Why is turning 33 significant? Well, it was yesterday that I turned 33 years old. What have I done that even compares to the Savior? Look what he accomplished in 33 years of life. Sure, He is God, so I am at a bit of a disadvantage. But it doesn’t mean I should not try. Try to have compassion on people who many have left behind. Try to bring forgiveness to hurting hearts by sharing the Gospel. Try to teach God’s Word, because it is from my Heavenly Father too. Try to live by the will of the Father.

Turning 33 is humbling. I look back and see what all I have done for the kingdom, and it truly pales in comparison to just 3 years of the Savior’s ministry. I realize I will try many of things that Jesus did so perfectly and often fail. But it doesn’t mean I should not try. Jesus’ ministry on earth ended in this year of his life, but as mine continues, I hope to accomplish just one pinky nail of what Jesus did. I can’t do it on my own. I need Jesus. I need my Heavenly Father. Jesus, please help my ministry to have more in common with you than just age, because next year, I won’t have that in common with you any more.jesus-nazareth-585-300x225

 

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Book Review: The Stick Faith Guide For Your Family

Book Review: The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family by Dr. Kara Powell5258580_orig

The Good:

Real. This book could not get any more real. We are talking about real advice from real families. This book is essentially a collection of advice from parents for the sole purpose of building a faith that sticks in their kids. This is not advice from a panel of psychologists or “parent experts”…no these are real parents that are in the trenches just like you grasping at ideas that will really work and help their child develop their faith.

Practical (Extremely). This may be the most practical parenting book I have ever picked up. From the very start, I was underlining ideas that I could implement right away. In fact, the author even warns the reader to take it slow and just take 5 ideas at a time. Otherwise, it could be overwhelming since there are so many good ideas. And since there are so many ideas, it is easy for any family to find something that fits their family situation (i.e. single parent homes, teenager-filled home, young children, etc.)

Ministry Treasures. From chapter 7 which talks about the elder generation’s impact on kids, to the chapter on mentoring…these can be very valuable in building a ministry that is inter-generational. Pastors, youth workers, children’s ministry volunteers…these are pages that need to be read and ideas that can be implemented tomorrow.

Gone too soon. Although I am a parent of young kids, everyone tells me the time goes so quickly. These pages are full of ideas to value the time and use it to have a real impact for your child’s relationship with God and others.

The Bad:

Occasional Bad Advice. Here are a few examples: #1: Allow your child to seek another church/skip youth group – sure this is a little out of context, but did not like reading it, nonetheless. #2: Apologize – Not found in the Bible. Encourage forgiveness over apologizing.

Wide Denomination Range. This is more of a warning for the reader. This is to a wide (Christian-based) denomination audience, so as long as you know that going in, it will prevent confusion.

Could use a little more grace. Many parents are suffering having a prodigal son or daughter. I think this book is missing a chapter on ministering to those that fade away or are rebelling. And also a reinforcement of the idea of there is no perfect plan, but it is of God’s grace. This is in there, but could use more of these types of encouragement and reminders throughout.

The Grade: B.

In the fall, I will be recommending this book to my parents as a valuable resource, and I recommend it to you as well. Powell provides incredible ideas for parents to have a deep impact on their children’s faith. I can almost guarantee any parent can find at least 5 ideas from this book that they can start doing immediately. And everyone is different, so this book provides an incredible variety of families and ideas for everyone to try. The realness, the variety, and the potential impact on children make this book a highly recommended parenting source.

 

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The Value of Vacation Bible School

It’s that time of year where Vacation Bible School is in full swing.  Maybe your church is thinking about hosting one…or you just need some encouragement to pull through another year.  Here is are some values that Vacation Bible School (VBS) can bring to your ministry…

Team Effort. Vacation Bible School is a total team effort, especially if you are in a smaller church. All of sudden, when you place that banner in your front lawn and offer 2-3 hours of child care, snacks, & fun for children…they will come. And BOOM, the children you have there is 3, 4, 5 times the size of your normal Sunday of children. You know what this means…all hands on deck. You need class leaders, teachers, snack-makers, decoration help…and the list goes on. It is a team effort by your church.

Community-Driven. Open up those doors for kids to come in. Provide ways to help parents, like providing meals for families prior or after VBS. Promote the event in your local newspaper and with banners and on your church sign. Be clear that the event is free and for the community. Let your community know this is not an exclusive club, but a week-long event for our neighbors kids to have fun and learn about Jesus.5258580_orig

Kids Meet Jesus. Speaking of Jesus, don’t weaken the sauce during this week. Make sure you have a dedicated Bible teaching time for the kids. Snacks, games, and crafts are all dynamite ideas, but do not neglect the Bible study and teaching. Build up to this…provide experienced teachers…give the teachers all the materials early for proper study time. Make this a priority, and tell your volunteers to make sure this time is focused and special.

Baby Steps. VBS is a great opportunity for new members or new teenagers to gain ministry experience before your school year schedule ramps up. Rather than put someone’s name down for a year of serving in children’s ministry, this could be an opportunity for a new person to see where they fit, their gift set, and if children’s ministry may be a place they can serve. (*Make sure to do background checks for your incoming children workers).

Fun. VBS should be synonymous with fun. Bring up the energy. Get your church excited about this week with early promotion and hype. Seeing kids sing and learn about Jesus…doesn’t get much better than that. Your joy and fun levels should be at an all-time high!

 

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Book Review: The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler #MinglingOfSouls

Book Review: The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler

The Good:

Attention all teenagers/young adults/parents of teens & young adults/etc etc. Tell all teenagers and young adults to read the 1st three chapters of this book right now! No seriously, get them out of school/wake them up/take them from work and leave them in a park somewhere and tell them to read the 1st three chapters of this book and discuss it with you. In these three chapters are priceless advice for anyone that is pre-marriage.

Bible-based. The problem with many marriage books is the source of the advice. Sure, psychologists and marriage counselors have wisdom to share, but they pale in comparison to the Word of God. This book guides the reader through the Song of Solomon and draws advice from the wisest man to ever live who, by the way, was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Check please.331639

A Must for Marriage Counselors & Pastors. This book is perfect for any number of scenarios. Whether you want to improve in marriage counseling, or you are a pastor formulating your wedding ceremony template, or you just want to help improve your marriage or a friend’s…this book is for you.

A Challenge From The Start. Let’s be honest, some books tend to trail off like a cell phone in the mountains. Not this book. A blow-by-blow heavyweight fight from start to finish, with challenges for those not married, newly married, and long-married (long-married…is that a word?).

Conflict Resolution. Chandler does not dance around this subject, because in marriage there will be conflict. This chapter is pure gold. Rather than just provide advice for husbands, this book provides great balance between the sexes in dealing with conflict. In fact, the entire book is very well-balanced for both spouses in not just conflict, but all areas of marriage.

The Bad:

A Warning. Chapter five is not for young readers. This chapter is designed for engaged/married couples, but still has value in understanding the true purpose of sexual intimacy designed by God. In this chapter, younger readers will still find valuable warnings of how the world has distorted sex.

Too Much Gospel? This is hard to say. We need to preach the Gospel to ourselves in everything we do, including marriage. But, I felt at times, the Gospel was used almost too often and brought some confusion. Almost like, sprinkle a little Gospel on it and it will taste better. At times, could have used more explanation. I understand the intent and I hesitated to even mention it, but felt I needed to be honest.

The Grade: A+

This book is real, honest, but never lets up on the pursuit of a marriage how God intended it to be. It takes the reader on an enjoyable ride through the twists and turns of marriage, but slow enough to provide valuable insight and advice from the Word of God that is attainable, useful, and life-changing. Chandler uses transparency and real-life examples to illustrate lessons learned the hard way. This book should be the next read for anyone reaching for the ultimate joy in marriage. (Hint: It’s not you or your spouse).

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