What does Jesus’ ascension have to do with you?

the_ascent-content-2-still-4x3In Acts 1:8-11, the ascension of Jesus Christ takes place.  Something special happened as Jesus gave his final instructions and shot off into the clouds.  What was it?  What does this event have to do with you?

When Jesus ascended to heaven, an eternal hand-off from Jesus to the disciples. 3 years of public ministry had come to an end and now it is up to them.  And now it is up to us.  In John 16, Jesus said it would be to the disciples advantage that he would leave…because then…you would get the Holy Spirit.

Let me ask you this – I understand this was a promise for the disciples…but is this a different Holy Spirit? A different source of power than the HS that lives in us?  Are we to be a witness to a different Jesus?  We have the power to be a witness for Jesus in our neighborhood, our community, our workplace..and we as a church are giving to missions, some of us are answering the call to missions to allow the Gospel to go to the ends of the earth.

If a loved one held your hand before they passed, and they gave you final instruction… would you listen? People, this was Jesus’ last instruction before leaving earth.  So church…ARE YOU? Are you being a witness to others?  Your mission is to spread the Gospel, the message of Jesus…He came, He died, He rose again…and He left – and has chosen us to spread Word about Him, His love, and His Salvation.  Will you?

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God saved me, now what?

Before I get to the point…watch this incredible story of a Dad and his son.

You have experienced Amazing Grace if you have salvation.  And you have been given new eyes, a new focus, new meaning…a new life.  You have new sight.  You have been looking at the ground all this time…at this world hoping to find happiness, joy, and fulfillment.  Now, you can look up, and you can SEE.  You have been given new life.  From death to life.

And with these new eyes, How dare we look down on anyone else in the sense that we are any better – No, if anything we should have a better understanding of where they are – and where they could be!  It should break our heart – motivate us to share how they could be rescued, delivered from death to life.

To sum up…you have salvation, NOW WHAT?  Live a life as if you have been given a new life (because you have), and share this new way of living with those that have not experienced it.  LIVE & SHARE!

This is a clip from this sermon.  Clink on the link to hear more.

 

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Need help with parenting?

That seems like a silly question.  Couldn’t all parents use at least a little help with parenting.  Paul Tripp wrote a book called “Parenting”.  You know what it is about?  Parenting.  Seriously though, it’s more than that.  This book has a dynamite combination.  Sometimes when you combine two things, it’s not so great.  Like hot dogs and mayonnaise, not what the doctor ordered.  Or how about stripes and plaids?  Gasoline and an open flame?  These are all disasters waiting to happen.  But when you combine a parenting book with the Gospel, you get a must read.

Book Review:  Parenting:  14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul Tripp 410ppsax0fl-_sx328_bo1204203200_

The Good:

Don’t Skip the Intro.  What a way to set up a book!  Like a great pregame from a coach, the author’s motivation in the opening pages is impeccable.  Not sure about the book, read the intro and you’ll be asking “Where do I sign?”

Gospel-Centered.  The author’s web page suggested his concern of parenting self-help books, and even his previous parenting books being held in more importance than God’s Word.  So, the author goes all out in taking the Gospel into parenting, rather than the other way around.  And he does a masterful job of instilling Gospel principles into everyday parenting.  It’s not too over the top, the “porridge” tastes just right.

That Didn’t Take Long.  Read a chapter and set a timer…it won’t be very long until you are tested with these practical principles from God’s Word.  These chapters are filled with practical lessons, that are both challenging and convicting.  And it doesn’t take long for you to be tested on the material.

The Bad:

This, This, and This.  The author has a certain style.  He like a particular mode of writing.  The book is filled with a specific literary technique.  I was trying to be subtle there, but the author tends to lean on a repetitive style of writing, and enjoys repeating a phrase in different ways.  Most of the time, it is very effective and needed, but every once in a while the list just seems redundant.

The Grade:  A.  For any phase of parenting, this book is a must read.  Read it before having kids.  Read it when you are in the heat of the battle.  Read it as a grandparent.  Suggest it to friends.  Suggest it in parent meetings.  It’s a must read.  It goes to the heart of both the parent and the child, and it does not let go.  It is enlightening, frustratingly challenging, spiritually uplifting, directionally on target, and never wavers from the truth of God’s Word.  It is a must read.

 

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7 Things I Learned at the National Youth Ministries Conference

 

This past week I was able to attend the Vision for Youth – National Youth Ministries Conference.  Clarks Summit University hosted speakers from all over, training youth workers and pastors in youth ministry.  Here are a few of the highlights of what I learned:

  1. PTA – Looking for a way to serve the local schools…how about joining the PTA? What a great idea!  Why didn’t I think of that?
  2. Community – Build a community around myself to challenge, keep me accountable, and encourage growth.
  3. Technology – Use Animoto.com for PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Elements as a cheap way to edit videos, graphics for PowerPoint from church media drop, Graceway Media, or church media spot.
  4. Youth Leaders – Be intentional at using your leaders in a way that uses their gifts.
  5. Reach out – Be willing to reach out into your community. The mission field is growing, and it is often not coming into your church building.
  6. Calling – Don’t just seek your potential, but your calling in ministry. When you do, that’s when mighty things can happen.
  7. Junior High – As it says in this video, this is a key time for spiritual development. Make the middle school years a priority in your church.

Maybe you can attend next year!  Check out the ministry of vision for youth, and see if they can of help to you in your youth ministry… http://vfyouth.org/

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Do You Need the Gospel Everyday?

Book Review:  New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp51yvuw5hol-_sx331_bo1204203200_

The Good:

Biblical.  Imagine that!  A devotional that is actually devoted to God’s Word.  Not only does it provide additional Bible reading for each devotion, there was often passages of Scripture weaved in and out of each page.  The Bible was the foundation for the writing.  This was not simply thoughts of a writer for a daily pick-me-up.  This was a devotional written how it should be.

Honest.  Love the honesty of the writer throughout.  Often, he would reveal how he fell short of the exact content of the devotional.  The raw, honest struggles that were revealed allows the reader to connect with the author in a more personal way.

Deep.  You won’t need a shovel to get depth on this one, but you may need to take a break before you climb out of the deep well of thinking.  Man, this dude brings it in theological constructs, Biblical insight, and Christian life application.  Good thing this is a daily devotion and can be taken one day at a time.

The Bad:

Lists.  There is a pattern, outline, array, summary, framework…I think you get the point.  The author enjoyed lists.  He would often list out a description of something in multiple ways, and the reader had to wade through the list to get to the point.  The good part of this is many times those lists contained some real gems that needed underlined and examined.

The Grade:  A.  One of my all-time favorite devotionals.  Seriously, with the depth, insight, and challenge…Paul Tripp brings the thunder to help produce real growth and knowledge of your spiritual condition.  It is worth your time and is valuable to your quiet time with the Lord.

 

2017 Youth Ministry Goals

Another year and more goals for the Lord to accomplish!  It’s great to look forward to another year of serving in youth ministry and another year of God doing amazing things.  This is just the tip of the iceberg…because I know God will do so much more.  But still, it’s always good to put goals out there to aim at as the Lord directs our shots.

Goals for 2017

  • New Book! –  Blessing to announce my 1st book has been published and my goal is for 1,000 copies to be sold to help people fall in love with God’s Word.
  • New Curriculum Plan! – Hard to believe this is my 6th year ministering at MBC, which mean a new 6 year plan will be put in place—with the input of parents, students, and research this plan will be implemented in the fall of 2017.
  • Mentoring – Teach a 2 week Mentoring series to encourage mentoring of generations within the church.
  • Short Term Mission Trip – Due to monthly local mission project, the 3 year cycle is now work trip, out-of-state, international trip. This year we will be traveling for our work trip.
  • Life After High School Series—Special speakers to speak on after high school temptations like drugs, how to witness after high school, and leader advice for the young adult years.
  • Public School Partnership – Continue to find ways to partner with local schools to serve them and bring the hope of Jesus Christ to students.
  • Social Media Interaction – Bolster ministry social media footprint with student leadership help and more interaction on Facebook.
  • Implement G.R.O.W.T.H Chart– Encourage parents to follow chart of spiritual growth for their students and provide training and help for students to reach these spiritual goals.

 

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10 Ways Christmas is Different as an Adult

  1. The energy level from a new toy or video game system lasted all day as a kid.  Now after the rush of Christmas morning, by dinner time it felt like 2 am, I just ran a marathon, and a bus hit me while I were crossing the finish line.
  2. Your Christmas list was toys, games, and fun stuff…now it is programmable thermostats to save money in the winter, socks, and a waterproof vest…and the funny thing is, you are just as excited!
  3. It used to take a week to play or enjoy all the presents…now I look for a box that I can fit my presents in and I’m all set.
  4. I cannot think of one Christmas dinner I had growing up…but this Hickory Honey Ham presentation with Hawaiian rolls, loaded mashed potatoes, carrot casserole, and a chilled IBC root beer will not be soon forgotten.
  5. Matching jammies with my family as a child would be thoroughly resisted in every way…but as a grown up it’s hilarious, fun, and great for pictures.
  6. Opening presents was just the best…now opening your own presents can get in the way of watching your kids open theirs.
  7. When you were a kid it was fun to make Christmas lists…now it takes me all year to compile things I want (it’s true, I keep a notes list on my phone – the programmable thermostat held the #1 spot since summer).
  8. What happened to me? I went from “Merry Christmas ya filthy animal” to where I couldn’t wait to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and allow my eyes to well up…it’s only a matter of time till the tears start rollin in.
  9. I don’t remember when I stopped believing in Santa Claus, but I know I won’t forget when my kids have that experience!
  10. One thing will never change with my age, I still am thankful for the reason for the Season and love to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus with my kids…The Hope that Christ brought me as a kid is the hope I still hold on to today.

15697298_10157887449565246_5706098247670253993_nHoping you and your family had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

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2016 Goals Revisited

In January of this year, I posted my ministry goals for 2016.  When you make goals, it’s a balance of faith, attainability, and measurability.  Let’s take a look and see what God did this year…shutterstock_407994838-800x400

  1. Short Term Mission Trip – Mission trips are a part of our ministry every summer in a cycle of local, out-of-state, international, and work trips. This way, the 4 year high school experience will allow for various types of mission work. This year a trip to New York is in the works.  Grade:  A.  What a tremendous trip.  Click here for the recap.
  2. Inter-generational Ministry Continued Improvement – A tech class for seniors, service projects combined with adult small groups, guest speakers, mentoring initiatives, and integrated mission projects.  Grade:  B.  There is still room for improvement, and that will be reflected in the 2017 goals, but we did host the tech class for seniors, involve adults in combined service projects, and the mentoring initiatives are starting to grow.
  3. Better Timing – Each year I look at my schedule and there is always at least one “why did I schedule that there?”.   This year I want to make a more conscious effort in the timing of events and programs. Team with parents in working out better schedules. Not all conflicts can be avoided, but why not adjust the schedule if it can be.  Grade:  B+.  For the most part, this was much better this year.  I was very strategic in providing rest for leaders, including student leaders, at key times.  Events were pretty well spaced out for maximum impact and family time.
  4. Family Series – I have been trying to find more ways to gather the family together in a youth ministry context. This year, I plan to teach a small series on the family with the entire family.  Grade:  B.  We did it, but it was not as well attended as I had hoped.  It’s difficult when parents are serving in other ministries (not a bad thing) or various other reasons…but the series went well and was well-received.
  5. Co-Mission Event – Continue the annual co-mission, which is a mission conference for students. This year, there may be some changes to enhance and improve the evangelism training for the students.  Grade:  A.  There were several adults and leaders that mentioned this was one of the best Co-Mission events we have had.  We made some practical changes and resulted in a challenging, but encouraging training for the students.
  6. Series on Fear – I read recently teens have a wide array of fears. Fear is often what keeps them from doing right and what tempts them to do wrong. Fear takes them places they don’t want to go and holds them hostage when they want to leave. Fear is something we need to talk about.  Grade:  A.  I tweaked this a little and did a “Fear Factor” event instead and used it as a platform to discuss their fear.  This event was one of the highlights of the year for sure. 
  7. Winter Retreat – In the past, the winter has been difficult to draw up enough interest for a retreat. Part of it is timing with winter sports, weather, and life. But this year we hope will be different having a younger group.  Grade:  A-.   Not greatly attended due to sports conflicts, but overall was a valuable that provided spiritual growth and group unity.
  8. Service – Each year we place a heavy emphasis on service and provide ample opportunity to serve in the church and in the community. This year is no different with continuous plugging in of students in church life and a community/church service project scheduled every month.  Grade:  A.  God blessed us to be able to participate in a service project every month again this year.  That truly is a staple in our youth ministry and the benefits are too numerous to count.
  9. Global Emphasis – With the World in Need month continuing this year, we plan to place an emphasis on the issue of poverty across the world. We hope to encourage the students to not only pray but be a world-changer and do something about global poverty.  Grade:  A.  Whenever you can expand the worldview of a student and raise awareness of poverty, it’s hard not to look at it positively. 
  10. Apprenticeships – Along with having a youth intern this year, I want to encourage the student leaders to seek out mentoring opportunities. These will be called apprenticeships within the student leadership team, but outside the group it is simply the older students helping the younger students with life. Mentoring needs to happen both up and down…being mentored, and mentoring others.  Grade:  A.  What a great experience.  I was blessed to have an incredible intern who was eager to learn and dive into ministry.  I strongly encourage others to consider having an intern work alongside you at some point in the year.
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