Tag Archives: Crazy Love

Book Review: “You and Me Forever” by Francis & Lisa Chan

Book Review: You and Me Forever, by Francis & Lisa ChanB1IKi3KCAAARclh.jpg large

The Good:

When We Gonna Talk About Marriage. This book is heavily focused on the reader’s relationship with God. And why not? This is the relationship that will last into eternity, not your marriage relationship. So the journey Chan takes you is bigger than just man and wife, and that is what makes this book unique and powerful.

Radical Call to Marriage. This is no ordinary marriage book, it is radical. It is a call to live your marriage entirely different. What makes it so credible, is the author and his wife lived what was written in this book. Otherwise, it would be a “you should” book. Instead, it is a “we did, and look what happened” book.

Ready for a Challenge? If you don’t want to be challenged, then don’t read this book. If you do…buckle up! The book is full of challenging thoughts and one-liners that smack you around.   The chapter on mission specifically will provide a great challenge.

Parenting Chapter. The parenting chapter alone is worth the price of admission. If you don’t have the time to read everything, read that chapter, and then if you can go back to the beginning and dive in. It is worth the swim.

The Bad:

Came for a Hamburger, and Got a Steak. Listen, if you open this book expecting a book full of relationship advice, you’re barking up the wrong tree. So don’t waste your time here. This book goes on a much deeper spiritual level and forces you to reevaluate your marriage. This is the closest thing I can come up with in terms of bad.

The Grade: A

I’m a little bias, sure. Crazy Love was the one of the first books that produced in me spiritual life change, outside of the Bible. Before that, reading was the furthest thing from my desk or leisure activity. When I realized I could read, and my life habits and disciplines could change as a result, I was sold. And it just happened to be Crazy Love was the first book I experienced that life change.

That being said, this book provides a unique look on marriage. It goes outside the girls are from Pluto, boys are from Saturn type relationship advice. It goes much deeper. For those that have a relationship with God and are married, this book provides a way for those two relationships to not only co-exist, but to thrive and grow into the relationships that are God-designed…how they are supposed to be.

Want more than just marital advice? Want to live life as a couple with a mission that is directed by God and has eternal effects? Want more than just a happy marriage? Pick up this book.

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10 Keys to a Successful Student Mission Trip

Something you will hear me say often in reference to short-term mission trips (Barna research has my back on this one), “There is no lessonGPS logo 2013 I can teach or event I can plan that can do what a short-term mission trip can do”.  What I mean by that is this, the spiritual life change, the comfort zone breakdown, and the transformation that I consistently see result from these trips…it is hard to reproduce, and it certainly should not be replaced in our youth ministries.

Over the years, God has given me the blessing of being able to lead trips to inner-cities (Chicago/New York), overseas (Barcelona, Spain & Ireland as a student), and more local trips like the mountains of Kentucky and the campgrounds of Scioto Hills.   These are some lessons I learned along the way:

  1. Preparation is Key.  What if a doctor never studied anatomy…what if a bungee jump operator didn’t learn to tie a knot…what if a hairdresser never went to cosmetology school….the answer, they would cause a lot of damage!  And same with mission trips.  If you don’t prepare well in advance, you may just cause more damage than good.
  2. Give Expectations Up Front.  This isn’t a come to the meetings when you feel like it experience.  Each potential team member goes through an interview & application process.  As part of the interview, the applicant is given, in detail, all the expectations of the trip, from behavior to training requirements and assignments.
  3. Train Them.  Soon, I will need to write a detailed list of the mission training, but here are some highlights:  read a book together (ex. Crazy Love, Do Hard Things), unity training (see #5), mission training (curriculum like Prepare.Go.Live), Personal Evangelism Training, Guest Speaker with Professional Training, Trip Presentation to Church, Group Practices (Drama, Crafts, etc.), and accountability (see #4) to name a few.
  4. Keep Them Accountable.  They know the expectations (see #2), so keep them accountable.  Each time we meet for training, the team is asked about their church attendance, daily time with God, homework, and team responsibilities.  Sure, they miss every once in a while, but if it happens twice in a row, the student in warned, and extra assignments follow.  If it continues, a meeting the parents and possible dismissal from the team.  Behavior can also be a means of dismissal as well.
  5. Work on Unity Early.  You may thing unity exercises are silly, but you will thank yourself later if you start them early and often.  The transformation I saw from the first time we did the exercises to the last day, it honestly gave me goose bumps to see the difference.  It was because we worked at it.
  6. Open Their Gifts.  Something we do during training is a spiritual gift inventory and assessment.  Following that, I give each student responsibilities based on their gifts.  Ranging from team encourager to teaching team, each team is given responsibilities, but because their jobs are connected to their spiritual gifts, it allows them to have a better chance of success, and less chance of frustration.
  7. Raise the Ante.  One year I walked out on a limb and had students be in charge of certain groups and given leader responsibilities, such as drama leader or music leader.  Sure, I gave them guidance in the process, but I raised the bar in the preparation process, and boy did it pay off!  I saw some amazing leadership growth in those students.
  8. Never Underestimate a Teenager.  I can remember a shy 9th grader coming into my youth group.  He usually sat quietly during events & lessons, saying very little.  Well, as the years went by he began to grow, but still had a quiet, shy nature.  During his senior year, he signed up for the mission trip to Spain.  He was the sound/media leader, which fit his personality.  But, I felt he needed more, so I gave him the task of learning a magic trick for the park presentation.  That same shy, quiet 9th grader, I got to see him do a magic trick in front of hundreds of people, and use that trick to share the Gospel.  NEVER underestimate a teenager…give them opportunities, and push them to new heights in their spiritual lives!
  9. Can I Get a Testimony?  Every year we do a wrap up service for the mission trip for our church.  It’s great, because many in the church gave towards the trip and were praying faithfully (Prayer cards with a team picture are a wonderful idea), and they want to hear all about the trip.  In the past I have asked if anyone would like to share their testimony of what God taught them.  This year, I decided to have every member of the team, including leaders, give their testimony.  Man was that powerful!  Sure, there were some that were extremely terrified, but the audience, especially parents, was extremely grateful.  (Next week’s blog – How to Plan a Mission Trip Testimony Service)
  10. Life Transformation.  As I mentioned in the intro, there has not been a trip that has gone by that I have not seen at least one student’s spiritual life dramatically change as a result of the trip.  There has been dramatic change (not just a mountain experience either) that I have seen in students.  Students taking their summers to go back to the mission field we went to on the summer before or students saying they want to work at the mission we served at after college graduation.  What a blessing to see lives changed!  That makes the effort that goes into #1-9 worth it.

Special thanks to my youth pastor growing up who taught me many of these lessons early, so I didn’t have to learn the “hard way” all the time.  Love you PK!

 

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Gospel Invitation…invite or not invite, that is the question

Let me do a little prefacing here.  I am all for the gospel, sharing the gospel, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in hearts, and allowing that response to happen.  However, I have seen many articles and books written lately on the following:

  1. Luke-warm Faith – Crazy Love, Not a Fan, Radical…all are speaking against the luke-warm faith.  These happen to be 3 of my favorite books, and they do a great job at convicting the lackadaisical Christian, if there is such a thing.
  2. Easy-Believism – There is a growing worry in evangelical circles that easy-believism is easily-a-problem.  I’m on board here.  It’s not a simple prayer and your saved…it’s a…more on that later.
  3. Christian-ese – Be careful using words like “ask Jesus in your heart” or “saved”

(Examples of these articles can be found here, here, and here.)

So what is the solution to the problem.  One of my biggest fears is allowing someone to believe they are a son or daughter of God…and they get to heaven and get “Depart from me, I never knew you”.  That scares me to death…and I believe that is a healthy fear.  But what do we, as youth pastors, youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, and parents do or not do in our Gospel invitations.  Well, I may not have all the answers, but here is a start:

  1. Don’t Be Their Assurance – It is not your job to be their assurance.  So it does no good to say “If you said that prayer, then you are a Christian”.  Sorry, but you don’t have that right to say that.  Only God knows their heart.  But you can point them to verses like John 5:24, I John 5:13,  or John 10:28-29 to find their assurance in their great God!
  2. Don’t do the Raise Your Hand Thing – Listen, I’m okay with raising your hand if you made a decision…but DON’T STOP THERE.  Provide counselors or small group leaders to follow up.  Follow up with the decision, make sure they understand, and welcome them into the family of God with instruction, guidance, and a new Bible.  Provide them with someone they can meet with on a weekly basis to go over the first steps of faith.
  3. Don’t Be Ashamed of The Gospel – The gospel is offensive.  You are telling people they are sinners and their ultimate destination is hell if they don’t do something about it.  Now, I don’t suggest opening your message with that statement, but don’t tiptoe around it either.
  4. Let Jesus be the Main Character -I recently shared a gospel message with about 70 students.  I asked some of my students the next week how the conversations were going with their friends.  One said they have had several spiritual conversations at the lunch table.  YES!  Another said his friends thought I was really funny.  NOOOOOO!  Illustrations, humor, and engaging the audience are good…but don’t let it get in the way of the star…Jesus Christ.
  5. Remember Your Job – Your job is to the set the table.  Don’t force people to say a prayer and see how many did so you can feel like it is a success.  Salvation is a life-long, life-surrendering, life-altering commitment of trust and faith in Jesus Christ.  It’s not just a prayer!  So, give them the gospel, sow the seed, and let Holy Spirit do a work in their hearts.

This is something that God has been convicting the snot out of me.  The Gospel is the best news anyone will hear in their entire life, and I don’t want to screw it up.  These are some lessons I have learned along the way…I would LOVE to hear what God has taught you.

 

 

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