Category Archives: Prayer

It’s Time to Pray

We need to pray.  We need to pray for revival.  We need to pray our country turns back to God, instead of turning our back on God.  We need to pray for this election that Christianity would have a voice, and God would be glorified.  We must do what the money in our wallets and in our kid’s piggy banks says “In God We Trust”.  Tomorrow is going to take a lot of trust, but we are in God’s capable hands.  We need Him more than ever.  Pray.  Trust.  Hope.  And remember that God is still in control.

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Can I Pray For You?

A Poem by Jeff Beckley to the church…

Can I Pray for Youcan-i-pray-for-you-part-1

Can I pray for you church? Can I pray for you?

The trials you face, the struggles you are going through

Can I pray for my teens, who battle pressures from every direction

That Satan wouldn’t add you to his church dropout collection

Can I pray for you Moms, who feel the weight of the world

That child’s crying, that child’s angry, that child just hurled

This last week seemed like a hill impossible to climb, 100 miles high

Can I pray for you moms, so God can hear an extra listen of your cry

Can I pray for you Dads, who may feel like you’re losing your grip

If there was a game between struggle and frustration, you’d win the championship

Work is piling up, you just spilled ketchup on your new shirt, and the house is falling apart

You want to just go for a drive, but your car won’t start

Can I pray for you husbands and wives, who feel like something is missing

Having trouble remembering the days of love notes, fancy dates, and kissing

The sparks are flying alright, but not like from your early days

These are more like sparks from a grinder cutting a fender off an old Chevrolet

Can I pray for you children, whose hold on your innocence seems to be fading

With all that’s on the news, movies, and songs…praying you won’t be imitating

Can I pray for those that are hurting and can’t see the light at the end

Today’s prayer will give you a reason to be on the mend

Can I pray for you church?  Can I pray for you all today?

Because we all need strength, so let’s see what God’s Word has to say.

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Lessons Learned From Tragedy

Recently, tragedy struck our church. A young man died serving our country, and protecting our freedom. His parents lead music at our church, and are the kindest and most giving people. But my goal in writing today is not another rendition of “when bad things happen to good people”.  These are lessons I’ve learned specifically this week when life gets hard.wrongful-death-lawfuel

Importance of Church Family. This cannot be stressed enough. Honestly, I have no idea how people get through hard times without a loving and caring church community. Our church has acted like a family through this. While the immediately family is suffering, so is the church family, but it is the church family that can provide unlimited support through cards, calls, meals, prayers, and encouragement.

New Understanding of Grace. While God’s mercies are certainly new every morning, His grace is sufficient. These two phrases have come to mind on numerous occasions this week. These truths need to be held dear during hard times. Lean on God’s grace and mercy, and know that even in the tears of the night, you will wake up to theses blessed promises in the morning.

Power of Prayer. If you have ever experienced a tragedy like this in your personal life, you may have experienced the power of prayer. You can actually feel the prayers being lifted on your behalf. The burden is lighter because it is being carried by loving brothers and sisters of Christ.

Renewed Appreciation of Salvation. I John 5:13 says we can know for sure we have eternal life. In these times when a believer is taken from us tragically, your appreciation for salvation goes through the roof. Knowing for sure that someone trusted in Jesus Christ provides eternal comfort.

God’s Sovereignty. Even though you can never fully explain these events, tragedies, and trials, you can trust in God’s sovereignty. God has a plan, and there will be evidence in the events that follow. God often uses tragedy to build His kingdom, to change lives, to bring us closer, and to provide change. Look no further than when He sent His Son Jesus Christ to the cross…to build His Kingdom, to change lives eternally, to bring us to a saving relationship with the Father, and to provide not just a change in our lives, but a transformation.

It has been said that you trials are always a part of your. You are either leaving a trial, in a trial, or about to enter a trial. God has warned us this life would be full of trouble, but he does not leave us empty-handed. Our Heavenly Father will get us through, and this week was a reminder of the capable hands of the Lord.gods-hands

 

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How to Teach Students to be World-Changers

Last week, I posted an article about doing something to help the world in need.  Well, how about creating an event dedicated to this very topic, of being “World-Changers” and helping those across the world, from poverty to persecution, from sex slavery to sweatshops, and from forced child labor to forced child military.

Here’s an idea that might work for your student ministry…create a World In Need Event or WIN event.  Get out your box cutter and open up this box, and inside you’ll find a kit to create this event.

Purpose

Allow your students to open their worldview from pin hole to wide view lens.  Not just in their sense and compassion of the world’s needs, but also compassion for the lost in far off countries, and faces and names to go with these issues.

Supplies

Over the course of the year, I collect articles & stories of poverty, persecution, and problems across the world.  My primary resource for these articles is Relevant Magazine, with the Reject Apathy project being a huge contributor.  Other resources could include national news publications such as Time Magazine.  Also, it may be a good idea to contact missionaries to see needs in their regions.

Dispatches from the Front DVD Series:  This may need to be edited in some parts, because there are some issues that are more adult.  However, this series is powerful to gain an inside look at other cultural issues, and provide a real view of these far places of persecution and unrest.

Finally, purchase Operation World.  No, seriously.  Put in your order right now, here.  This will provide a valuable research during the prayer time of the WIN event.  Did you buy it yet…do it!

Planning

Opener Video – Choose an opener video to introduce your event.  I’ve used these:  World Edition of How Great is Our God, First World Problems (this one is especially powerful), & Audio Adrenaline – Kings & Queens.

Main Bible Passage – Use a passage that depicts the compassion God urges us to have for those in need.  Click here for some examples.

Presentations – Choose several world regions you would like to focus on helping.  Dispatches from the Front provide numerous options of where there is persecution and needs.  You can use these DVD’s to introduce the region and needs.  Or you can use your research to provide areas of needs.

Presentations can be adult or student led.  I would suggest doing the adult or youth leader led projects with a leadership student assisting.  After doing this a year or two, move to student presentations.

Give the youth leader or student a packet with the research you have compiled over the year.  Provide the location and problem/issue.  Inside the packet, provide a cover sheet of what the presentation should include.  For example:  Project Assignment, Title for Presentation, Bible Verse or Main Passage – Short devotional & How verse relates to topic/presentation, Presentation of World Issue – Present the Problems, Give statistics, Provide visuals – pictures, videos, Provide Solution – What can the audience do?  How can we help?, Close in Prayer

Preparation – Allow for several weeks and half your youth group time for students to collect their data and work on their presentations.  With youth leaders, you will want to provide the material 1-2 months in advance to give them enough time to prepare their presentations.  Choose a month where you can present the idea of helping others or loving others, and take time each week to pray for needs and problems in the world using your Operation World book that you just purchased earlier =)

WIN Event

Travel the World.  Make it special.  Have your leaders dress up as flight attendants and have students “fly” to their location for the presentations.  Use your worship center or gym to provide space between presentations, or use separate rooms.

Provide tools.  Allow each group to have access to internet and computer.  This will allow them to show Power Point and/or videos to enhance their presentations.

Be Creative.  Have each group bring in a cuisine or appetizer from their region.  Bring in a missionary speaker from that region as your main speaker.  Find someone who was originally from that culture who can speak from experience.

world-changers

Summation:  This WIN (World in Need) Event can provide an eye-opening experience for your students.  Did they know about the epidemic of sexual slavery?  Do your students realize the devastation of AIDS in Africa?  Do they understand how good they have it with clean, hot water whenever they want it?  Or most of all, how much do they take for granted their Bible in their hands and their freedom to worship, where many die for those two things?  It’s time we take some time and wake up our young people to the needs of this world…and allow them do to something about it!

 

 

 

 

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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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Mission Trip Training – 10 Steps to Prevent Disaster

What is the best way to prepare for a mission trip?  In a word…TRAINING.  You want to avoid the Romeo who tries to ask out the missionary’s daughter or the insurance deductible for what is left of the new orphanage wing…Well, here are 10 steps that will help prevent disaster and set the table for God to work.  (Disclaimer:  Accidents, Trials, and Difficulty can/will occur during mission trips, but there are some difficulty that can be avoided)MissionTrainingPortfolio

1.      Application Process

Mission Trips are serious business.  They must be handled differently than a trip to an amusement park.  You don’t just put a sign-up list on your bulletin board with cool font and clip-art graphics.  No, most of the trips are designed for those students serious about serving God and getting their hands dirty for Jesus Christ.   So what do you do?  You have an application process.  Have each student fill out an application, get references from their parents/guardians and another adult, and must be turned in by the deadline.  Following the application, have them interview with yourself (include parents & other leaders in the interview).  Lay out the expectations of the trip, the assignments, the attendance policy, and the behavior expected in each participant.  If the student cannot meet the expectations, it is in your and their best interest they are not part of the team.

2.      Here’s Your Notebook

Make it look official.  Give each student a notebook with the assignments, place for notes, support letter samples, contact information, prayer requests, release forms, etc.  Students will be able to keep their program assignments and other materials in one spot, and will be advised to take their folders on the trip.  Although it takes some work to put these notebooks together, it is well worth the effort.

Lessons for the notebook notes include Evangelism training, Bible studies on Missions, and assigned reading review.  Guest speakers from the church provide a great way to connect the generations in this effort.  I’ve had elementary teachers and children workers come speak on child evangelism, working professionals speak on leadership or give a “How to Paint” tutorial, and Spanish teachers teach us about Latin culture.

3.      Strict Attendance & Expectations

When I say strict, I mean it.  I give the students one excused absence from training which would include vacation, sickness, etc.  If they miss more than one, they will receive an extra assignment.  Two absences will result in a meeting with the parents.  Why so strict?  I want these students to take this trip seriously.  They will be representing Christ and our church in another state/country, and skipping training shows they don’t see the trip as important.

Also, as part of their attendance each time we meet, I ask each student about the following:  Devotions, Church Attendance, Book Reading, and other assignments.  If there is consistent neglect of these things, additional assignments, and/or meeting with the parents will occur.  If the negligence continues, the student may be dismissed from the team.

4.      Get Your Church On Board

Each year, we prepare a short 15 minute presentation to the church about the trip.  The students present the trip by preparing a PowerPoint, explaining the training, preparation, funds needed, and trip tasks.  A student also will pray for the trip following the presentation.  This shows ownership of the trip and the church will most likely get on board when they hear about the trip from the teenagers themselves.  (And when you get back, makes sure to organize a testimony service)

5.      Unwrap Gifts

unwrapThe last few years I have required that each incoming/new student fill out a Spiritual Gift Inventory.  Using the results of the inventory, I place each student in the groups that best suit their gifts and abilities.  Why would I place a shy introvert whose gift is serving in the lead teaching role?  Similarly, why would a type-A, brilliant communicator with a teaching gift be put in a primarily behind the scenes role?  Sure, there will be times when you go out of your comfort zone, but the primary role should be one that reflects their gifts and abilities, which will in turn allow them to reach their greatest potential for God’s glory.

Tasks and responsibilities could include/but not limited to:  Communicator, Work Coordinators, Team Encourager, Communication Assistants, Ministry Coordinators, Photographers, Prayer Coordinators, Public Relations, Praise Band Member, Teaching Team, Hospitality Team, Cleaning Crew, & Supply Team (Stay Tuned for Task & Responsibility explanation list later in the blog this month)

6.      Unity Doesn’t Just Happen

Unity takes so much work.  This past year we did a unity game and it was complete silence, frustration was high, and people were getting offended by their misuse.  But, we kept at it, continued to do unity games periodically in training, and the final unity activity gave me goosebumps…communication, laughter, leadership, encouragement…that was worth the effort.

7.      Provide Leadership Opportunities

Stretch your students to reach their potential in leadership.  Give them responsibility.  Allow failure, but be there to pick them up when they fail at times.  If the teens aren’t pushed and are not taken out of their comfort zone, your spiritual growth opportunity will decrease significantly.  Allow them to lead music, teach lessons, take the pictures, share the Gospel, lead the devotions…You let them lead, and it may be more work in the outset, but the blessings will be so much more than you ever expected.

8.      Practice Makes…It’s Never Gonna Be Perfect

This is a no-brainer.  You have to schedule time to practice.  Whether it is puppets, music, teaching lessons…give them time to practice during training.  Allow students to be leaders during these practices, particularly the upperclassmen running these practices of their particular part in the program.

9.      Don’t Forget About the Gospelmission-trip-checklist

Speaking of practice, give the students opportunity to practice sharing the Gospel, both real and imaginary.   Here’s what I mean.  Each year, I set up the gym like wherever we are going.  I typically ask 2 or 3 small groups to come and participate in a mock evangelism event acting like different kinds of people.  One year was a park in inner-city Chicago or New York, and other year we were at a camp with a whole bunch of adults acting like elementary kids.  It gives the teens opportunity to practice in a less-pressure filled environment.  As the teens mature and gain more experience, take them door-to-door or to local parks to talk to people about Jesus.

10.  Prayer

Last, but certainly NOT least, is prayer.  Inside the notebooks should be a list of prayer requests that you have for the trip.  Encourage students to pray for these regularly.  Design a prayer card with the team’s picture on it and send those out in your support letters.  Have those cards available in the lobby of the church for people to grab and put on their refrigerators.  Also, as seen in the responsibility list, designate 1 or 2 students to be prayer leaders.  Have these leaders design a prayer book for the trip, and during training have them lead the prayer time and also keep track of individual prayer requests along the way.

See 10 Keys to a Successful Student Mission Trip for more trip information and resources.

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Book Review: O Me of Little Faith

The Book:  “O Me of Little Faith” by Jason Boyett

O Me of Little FaithThe Good:  Perfect introduction to the subject at hand.  Doubt and weak faith is a difficult subject, but the author drew me into it like a pro in the first couple chapters.  You have to read the story about the bench-press.  It had me rolling.  But the “best good” of this book is the honesty.  Without honesty, this book would fall apart.  The author was willing to be transparent in a subject that is not often talked about, doubt.  According to Sticky Faith curriculum, research shows that in high school, 70% of students doubt their faith, but fewer than half actually talk about those doubts with a pastor, other adult, or other students in their youth ministry.  There is a disconnect of those that have doubts, insecurity, or loss of faith and the discussion that happen as a result of those things.  This book helps bring those issues to the surface.  Other things worth the price of admission:  Chapter 8 baptism story is absolutely precious (don’t use the word precious often, but it applies and is a must read.  Also, a must read, ALL of chapter 9.

The Bad:  The author has a weak view on prayer and it shows throughout.  While I appreciate the honesty, I’m not on the same page.  Also, liturgy in chapter 5 was a little over emphasized for my liking.  This is a dangerous book for those new in their faith.  I would recommend this book for those that are weak in their faith after a substantial time in the faith.  I would hate for this book to be given to a new believer only to have their faith crushed before it could bloom.  Finally, the sarcasm can get to be too much where the book is almost trying to convince the reader to have doubt in a certain area.

The Grade:  B-

I absolutely loved the author’s style, approach, and honesty.  However, it offers little closure to the reader and often chooses sarcasm over solution.  There are portions of this book that are a must read (like chapter 9), but there are reasons for a B grade.

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Louisville Player’s Gruesome Injury…God was there

Where were you when you saw Kevin Ware jump 3 feet into the air to defend a 3 point shot? louisville0410

It was Easter afternoon when one of the most publicized injury in sports history occurred.  It was gruesome.  When the replay was shown, our whole house groaned, and couldn’t look away soon enough.

It was rare when I had to shade my kids eyes from a basketball game.  Players were nauseous, crying, lying on the floor.  Coaches could barely look…and if you look closely, a player on the bench passes out!

But where was God?  He was listening to the prayer of Luke Hancock, who would later single-handedly bring his team back in the championship game.  God was there to comfort Kevin…and this is the story that many are missing…the courage that he gained from a simple prayer.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

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