Category Archives: Ministry

Read Your Bible, Pray Every Day

Barna released their Year in Review recently that reported only 19% of Americans are what you call “engaged” in the Bible, meaning they read it at least 4 times a week & believe it to be the actual & inspired Word of God.  No wonder the American church is spiritually anemic!  Good news is, it can turn around TODAY.

As we enter another new year, we’ve been thinking of ways to get the kids we shepherd (our own as well as SS class & Wed night small group teens) to not be overwhelmed or discouraged in their Bible reading.  We all know, if you don’t have some kind of a plan, it won’t happen.  The BEST thing we can do for these kids is get them into the Word.  So…we looked for a flexible plan.  Here’s what we found.

Bible Reading Checklist-2015  

Note: We didn’t create this. The person who did put it on as a freebie but super complicated to share format, so I just made it a link here to simplify.  To give credit, here’s the original link if you’d like to get it that way.

This plan is great for a few reasons.  First of all, you can start wherever you want & go wherever you want in Scripture rather than feel like you have to start in Genesis & get bogged down in the Pentateuch (again).  You can start on January 1st or 10th or March even.  You won’t get frustrated by “being behind” or “reading ahead”.  If you hear a Scripture mentioned in a sermon or class & want to go home & dig further, DO IT.  Mark it.  Then as the year goes on, you can see the parts you’ve not hit & get busy reading those gems!  It may take three years (if you read one chapter a day) or you may “binge read” & get all the prophets read through in two weeks.  Doesn’t matter.  Just don’t neglect those letters from Paul or Psalms.  They are ALL important!!  “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

Keith likes that this plan has a prayer printed right on the sheet to remind you to start & finish by talking with your Father.  This is not just another item to check off the list  & get puffed up about.  This is a relationship you are building.

If you read as a family, you could mark those boxes in one color & your personal reading in another.  This way you can keep track of what you’re doing all in one place!  Nice.

So, print it out (we copied it front & back so it’s on one sheet & tri-folded it to make a bookmark) & hand it out to those you shepherd.  We think our kids will be encouraged as they see those boxes get colored in over time & actually see how much of the Word they’ve read. And we’ve already been able to pull it out to show the kids in SS how much we’ve read so it gives all of us accountably as well as an opportunity for them to see this is a life long pursuit.  It is exciting & fun!  It is VITAL.  It is the most beautiful, amazing, & life-giving Book.  Encouraging you to set those you shepherd on the personal God-seeking journey early & JOIN THEM. : ]

PS – We also encourage the kids to listen on their iPods.  It does speak to you differently when you hear it vs. when you read it.  Some people have a harder time reading & get so caught up in the letters they miss the message.  Even if that’s not you, it is interesting to see what jumps out when you hear bigger portions while you are on a jog or washing dishes.  It is worth doing if you’ve never tried it before.  Here’s a link to a few free ones: ESV New Testament, KJV & ESV complete Bible, or listen on line here to the entire NLT Bible.  That’s just what I found in a quick search.

Leaving you with an oldie but oft forgotten goodie that every preschooler I’ve ever taught has loved to sing way too many times.  (If you teach your littles this song, just be sure you explain the whole grow & shrink spiritually thing to them. They’ll take it literally otherwise!)  May the Lord richly bless the reading & hearing of His Word in 2015!


A “GREAT” Response & Three Freebies

Sorry to be so quiet lately. It’s been pretty busy around here, but among the many goings on has been both a Thirst Conference & an Anger Resolution Seminar in the last month. So much to share, but only time to pass on a bit. The Lord keeps bringing the following little nugget up in my life a lot lately so I thought I should type it out. Maybe it’s something you will find useful in your life, too. This is from the Gothard material I’ve been studying lately; both the Anger Resolution conference & the Commands of Christ curriculum (Command #3 – Rejoice).

Have a “GREAT” response to trials/suffering in life. This little acronym is handy for me; I can carry it with me & it sticks. It’s easy to pull up in my mind whenever needed.:

G – Give thanks – This is not a feeling, but rather an act of obedience. I need to recognize this circumstance as from God’s loving hand. Whatever it is! God brought it into my life for my good. (Romans 8:28, 31-32, 35-39) If nothing else, He is using it to build godly character in my life making me more in His image which is the goal anyway, isn’t it? He cares much more about my long-term well being than my temporary happiness. He does not mean it for evil. Giving thanks for it, no matter what, requires FAITH. (Hebrews 11:1-2,6) My reward for giving thanks as we are commanded to do in ALL circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18) is peace, joy, & love that only comes from God & that the world can’t offer. It stands out! (Hebrews 13:12-15; Job 1:21, 2:10; Phil. 2:14-15; Phil. 4:6-9; Psalm 107:22; Gen. 50:20; Jeremiah 29:11)

R – Rejoice – This is where the feeling part comes in. Rejoicing involves emotions. The ONLY way to be able to do this in horrible situations is to think of all the ways this situation could be beneficial. This requires looking at it from God’s perspective. Could He be working in someone else’s life who is looking on? Is He building a character quality in my life I need to strengthen in order to be the godly person I long to be? Is He using this to keep me on my knees & totally dependent on Him? Than that’s good! That’s where I need to be anyway. It is also helpful to remember that even in those times when a bad situation is mostly my own stupid fault (we all have them), God is graciously able to use even those bad situations to turn it around & get the glory in even that! Whatever that is! Isn’t that wonderful?! (Phil. 4:4; Hebrews 10:34 – read vs. 32-39; Matthew 5:12; Isaiah 55:8-9; Psalm 119:71, 19:8)

E – Engraft Scripture – In other words, transform my way of thinking by drenching my mind in God’s Word. (Romans 12:2; 10:17) Satan will undoubtedly be whispering lies in my ear about this trial I’m going through, no matter how big or small. DON’T listen! Even more than that, actively pursue the Truth! Whatever the situation, find applicable verses in God’s Word that speak to this area. Seek them out & collect them. Write them out. Meditate on them. Post them where they will be before my eyes multiple times a day. Mull them over. Engraft them into my life just like a horticulturist ties new branches onto a tree to make them literally grow into & become a part of the tree. (John 15:5) Memorize them. Have them ready to throw back at Satan whenever his lies pop up, day or night. (Ephesians 6:16-17; John 15:7; Psalm 119:25-29)

A – Appeal to God – Literally cry out to our heavenly Father. He knows what I need! He has given me the authority to do this! I am His child & He has promised that He hears my cries. Isn’t that amazing?! (Psalm 50:15; 55:16-17; 56:9; 107:13; Hebrews 10:19-23; 1 John 3:1, 21-22; Romans 8:15-18)

T – Triumph over evil with good works – Overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). This is what I am commanded to do as a Christ follower (Matthew 5:43-48). This goes against everything humanly natural! This only happens as I allow God’s grace to flow through me. This is where the Holy Spirit’s fruit is produced & evident in my life (Galatians 5:22-25). Jesus is our example in this – He did this for me! He took the initiative in forgiving me & changing my sinful self for His glory. I can in turn, by the power of the Holy Spirit, pass forgiveness on. This is where the world sees Christ in me! (Hebrews 12:1-4)

I’ll close with three free resources God has been using greatly in my life. Maybe you would be blessed in them as well…

Commands of Christ – a 49 week discipleship challenge. If you click the window on the right that says “select a command”, a drop down window will allow you to click through all 49 & select whichever one you want to study. You can have daily emails sent with links to help you dig daily into the wealth of materials here.

– Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ Revive Our Hearts radio program – You can listen to past programs here, or set yourself up to have it come into your iTunes or email automatically every day. I have enjoyed these daily broadcasts SO much! If you’ve never heard it, might I suggest you start with this series. I give it three sessions & you’ll be hooked!

– Oswald Chambers’ daily devotionals from My Utmost For His Highest – You can read it free daily here, or have it sent to your facebook page by clicking “like” there. I really love his short but challenging thoughts & have for years. They are always applicable & worth reading. It also doesn’t hurt that he looks a lot like my Keith – easy to love him. : ]


Seeds Family Worship

I love this music! The idea behind it is: 1) make music the whole family can use together & enjoy & 2) create songs entirely from Scripture. There are five albums out currently. Oh, and when you buy their CDs, they give you two; one for you & one to give to a friend. (Note, learned the hard way that there are two different covers. If you want to have the two CDs, get the edition with the stick guy on it!) Fun! Here’s their site, & here’s a sample for you. Enjoy.


Forget Going Green, I’m All About the Orange

If I had a magic wand that would work out all the minor details for me (like provide the $500 plus bucks it would take, set up the frequent flier ticket, watch my children for me, etc.), I would LOVE to be at the Orange Conference in Atlanta next week. First hearing about this 252Basics thing from a blogger friend of mine a few years back, I have been intrigued by reThink ever since. It’s expensive, but I enjoy tooling around their site & “picking their brain” for ideas. I think this is their second year of conferencing & some of the breakout sessions sound awesome.

Here’s a sample of one of the sessions synopsis:

“How to Awaken Spiritual Parenting in Today’s Families – Parents are being awakened to their God-Given roles to be the spiritual nurturers of their children. But most parents feel inferior and ill-equipped for such a role. How does the church effectively come alongside their parents and both inspire and equip them to spiritually guide and grow their children, instead of merely taking on this role directly.”

It’s neat to see a curriculum produce some of the things we are trying to do in our family & what we feel very strongly about: family worship, sharing your faith in a real way, strengthening families to raise godly children, trying to help them see that as their role & not the church’s, etc. The church is here to encourage, support, equip, not take over the spiritual responsibility of church-goers’ kids. Here are a few quotes that especially excite me…
“…equipping parents with kids at every age level to become the primary spiritual leader for their kids – to partner with them so that the one hour the church has with kids each week is multiplied at home.”
“…creating opportunities for families to invite their neighbors to a relevant and engaging environment at your church – to see what happens to their own faith when they begin investing in those around them.”

orange

WHAT IS ORANGE-OLOGY?

Orange-ology: Is the belief that two combined influences will make a greater impact than just two influences.

RED = Church YELLOW= Parents

RED + YELLOW > RED or YELLOW

RED + YELLOW = Orange-ology!

Orange is a color that symbolizes INTEGRATION and CHANGE. When you take the two traditional colors of red & yellow, blend them together & you have a whole new color, symbolizing what happens when you merge the church & family. It kicks it up to a whole new level when those two work together. *YES!!* “Every innovative idea and creative program will ultimately grow old. Styles and methods need to change more frequently than we are willing to allow. That’s because the idea of change makes comfortable Christian leaders nervous, and it keeps the Church lagging behind culture. As a result, we give a generation the perception that the Church and maybe even God are irrelevant.” Another *YES!*

Anyone have a magic wand I could borrow next week? Can’t seem to find mine. I wonder if they put their stuff on youtube or something for those who can’t attend the conference? I’ll look into that one of these days coming up & let you know if I find it.


Hodge Podge

Sorry, I’m gonna go on a short linkey binge here…

Two things that got me thinking/excited today. One is Del Tackett’s newest project, a Truth Project version specifically aimed at the college-bound teen! The other is off of Piper’s blog. Jon poses the question, “Why Jethro?” Good question. Great answer.

Speaking of Jethro & Moses, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I feel pretty useless slash lazy slash spinning my wheels for some reason. Don’t worry, it’s a phase & I’m not particularly “down”, just wondering if I’m doing all that I should be doing, where do I need to make changes, how can I be more productive, etc. I’m probably not making much sense, but it’s hard to put into words. The biggest example I can give is in the area of housework. Look around & it looks like I do nothing all day. This is my job! I do the same things over & over. I have more time this year. It still looks like this. Yikes. The Lord brought this thought to mind & I’ve decided to blog it for myself & the children (nugget of wisdom you might say)…

Every life has seasons. Even the great men and women of God, our huge heroes, those who followed the Lord closely all their lives, had faster & slower times. Moses spent decades in the wilderness “doing nothing” before God gave him his big task. Joseph spent years both in prison and doing servant work before he was given his big life task. Go down the list. David spent years in the fields watching sheep & still more time in caves being chased by King Saul. Peter spent years out on a boat sitting around catching fish before Jesus called him. Jesus Himself spent 30 years learning carpentry before his big three years. So, if you find yourself (or feel like you’re in) a year or two where you “aren’t really doing anything”, take heart. Enjoy the slow down. Take extra time to listen for that still small voice. Feed your soul & don’t feel selfish. Keep an eye out for daily “inconveniences” that God brings along your day – that unexpected phone call from a friend, the person God brings to mind that needs a note from you, that extra hour spent snuggling with a sick child, take more time on your prayer list each day. Those are the very things He wants to use in your life & through you today. Relax & just spend time falling in love with your Lord & all He’s given you.


Deborah Drapper

Speaking of a passion for the lost, eyes on Heaven, etc. I met this young lady yesterday via the internet. She inspires me.

Thanks, Alex & Brett, for passing this on.

After you watch her six part story, I’d like to discuss some things with you. (Double click on the video to find the other five parts.)…

For one thing, don’t you find it interesting that the whole premise of the filmers was that this poor little Christian girl was growing up so deprived of “normal”: partying, drinking, sex, filling her mind with pop culture, etc.? What snippets I see of the other side, as I’m sure goes through Deborah’s mind as she encounters “the outside world”, it all just looks so pathetically sad & lonely! When you’ve grown up with all your emotional, spiritual, & physical needs met by a loving family & wonderful God, you see the emptiness of those other poor girls half dressed & drunk & just feel sad for them. They obviously don’t know real love, joy, peace, etc. & how could they? Those things come from the Holy Spirit. If you don’t have Him in your live, you’re left to wallow in filth trying to imitate those things & it ends up trashing your life. (The Liar comes to kill & steal & destroy.) Some commenters (on you tube) sounded like they would love to see Deborah in a few years when she heads out to college & gets drunk, shacks up, etc. First of all, nice attitude! They are wishing a beautiful girl to trash her life just because everyone they know does. Nice. But secondly, I would be willing to bet she won’t do those things. She’s a sinner, & we all make mistakes. But she’s pretty confident in who she is & what she believes; if you’ll notice, more so than any of the other people around her! Teens do not have to go through a rebellious stage! They don’t! My prayer for our children is that they too, would have this confident assurance of their Father’s love, not only accepting themselves, but seeing themselves as a wonderfully loved special creation of a loving God Who has a purpose for their lives. I pray they get to know themselves, their gifts, talents, weaknesses, early so that they can head that direction God has for their lives as soon as possible & find that joy & fulfillment in doing what God has created them to do without wasted years of stupid living to look back & be embarrassed about. I would be grieved to see them wallow in sin for years, wasting their youthful passion & zeal. It would grieve me about as much as anything would, honestly.

Two ironic things: Didn’t you think it funny they started out asking Deborah how she copes with things being “so noisy” at home, yet they thought she’d be better off experiencing the party world where the noise is so intense you can’t think? I don’t think the film makers caught the funny there, but I sure did. Also, isn’t it funny how that one lady coming out of the puppet show thought it was so terrible the family was so “in your face” about creation? Now, I would venture to bet that ironically, if the show had been in your face about saving the environment, she wouldn’t have been offended. She just didn’t want to be told she was created & there’s a God out there Who loves her but not her sin. She doesn’t want her or her child to be exposed to being told any rules (aka ten commandments) even if that keeps her out of danger!

I read through some of the comments on youtube & many of them alluded to Deborah being a “sad child”. I think they saw her sad because the film showed her so often in those sad places. Her heart breaks when she sees people throwing away their lives & floundering. I understand. She challenges me & inspires me afresh there. I used to have more of a heart like that, but over the years I’ve become calloused. It is easy for me to get hard-hearted toward people in my own culture who have been in such a time and place as America & still haven’t availed themselves of all there is out there at their fingertips! Flip through the TV channels, people! Or the radio dial, or the local library for some great books, or walk in any number of the churches around you, or surf the net for crying out loud. Between Focus on the Family, films like Fireproof & the Passion, etc. you’d think everyone would’ve stumbled across the Gospel by now, wouldn’t you? But that’s not the right attitude to have. I need more compassion for the lost. So many hurting people, that’s how Jesus saw them. And that’s how I feel when I have gotten to know their stories. I was watching Jail last night. First time I’ve watched TV in a long, long time & I now remember why. The whole show was about police locking down these drugged out drunks. Pathetic. But each of those poor souls is so obviously trapped in sin. They desperately need the Lord! They are ruining their lives & it is just really, really sad. It shouldn’t have to be that obvious, though, for me to be broken hearted – have Christ’s compassion for them.

deborah

God bless the Drapper family! It was refreshing to see a real Christian family & real teen girl who loves her Lord on TV. She also started a blog here. If you want to contact her for encouragement or discussion, I’m sure she would appreciate the encouraging words from brothers & sisters around the world.


Five Things In Hell That Should Be In the Church

Over Christmas, we got to visit with our pastor from Korea for the afternoon. Good times! We also got to hear him preach again. The week we were there, he had quite the catchy title & I had to share. It’s a keeper…

5 Things in Hell That Should Be In the Church
(Luke 16:19-31)

Now, stop right there. Can you think of any that could be on the list? Take a minute or two & think about where you think this sermon will go. Now read on.

First off, the fact that Lazarus was named & the rich guy not is noteworthy. Names were very significant for Jews, so this shows where Jesus was placing the importance.

1) Absence of Materialism. (vs.22) – The rich man died & was buried, in other words, he lost it all! How much of our time, conversation, etc. are gathered around luxury? The rich man’s family had the same problem; he had five brothers with he exact same problem. (Rev. 18:11-17) Application for us: Try going on a “thing diet”. Eat leftovers, only use used things, etc. Try some purposeful downsizing, repeatedly. The things Christians spend money on effects businesses. Perhaps we should use it to make statements more often. Choose to spend money more wisely & then use our wealth to help those out of work or struggling.

2) Passion for Being Poor. (Matthew 5:3) – “Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall see God.” Application for us: Where have you grown the most spiritually? During “fat times” or “lean times”? (Luke 16:23 & Hebrews 12:1-3)

3) Eyes Fixed on Heaven. Are our eyes fixed on Jesus? “He looked up & saw Abraham…”.

4) A Passion for the Lost. (Luke 16:23 & 27-28, Matthew 9:37)

5) An Awareness That the Choices We Make Are Permanent. – Note, the rich man never asked the obvious questions like “Can I get out of here? Don’t you remember when I gave at the temple? etc.” He was searingly aware that his choices were permanent! Application: We need a new sense of marriage permanence, spiritual commitments kept. etc. (John 3:17-18) We can’t earn our way into Heaven. And the decision is already made once we die.

Which of these five things do YOU need more of this new year? (This message was given the Sunday before New Year.)