Reality Check for the Most Important Relationship of Your Life!

New Year Prayer Guide

1. Adoration: Praising God for who He is

Read & Reflect:
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:1, 2, 4, 5, 8 NLT)

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. (Psalms 46:1 NLT)

Pray that God would give you a greater understanding of His Word.
Pray for God to place a desire in your heart to know Him and be known by Him
Pray that you may better realize how much God loves you and what He has done for you.

2. Confession: Releasing to God your sins
Read & Reflect:

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. (1 John 1:8-10 NLT)

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. (Proverbs 28:13 NLT)

Talk to God about the sins you have knowingly committed this weekend.
Talk to God about any sins you find yourself repeating.
Talk to God about any relationships that have been broken because of sin… (Gossip, lies, unforgiveness)

3. Thanksgiving: Thank God for all He has done.
Reflect on these verses:

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. (Hebrews 12:28 NLT)

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6, 7 NLT)

List 10 blessings in your life, pray and thank God for them.
Pray that Jesus would help you to have a more thankful heart in 2014 than 2013.
Pray and Thank God for His Son and life we have because of His Life, Death & Resurrection.

4. Supplication: Asking, making requests to God

Read & Reflect:
Take delight in the Lord , and he will give you your heart’s desires. (Psalms 37:4 NLT)

Give your burdens to the Lord , and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. (Psalms 55:22 NLT)

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:16 NLT)

Pray for boldness to have great conversations with God this year, talking to Him like a best friend.
Pray for any requests you may have.
Pray for Jesus give you hope for the new year and a glimpse of how He wants to grow in you and move through you!

Write a Letter To God:
Hide the Letter and find it in July. (We gather the letters and mail them out in July)

Step #1: Write about your current relationship with God. Think about God as a friend, Would you say you are close friends or distant? Write about why you think that.

Step #2: Write about the relationship with God you want to have. Are there areas you need to grow in? Are there areas of your life you have not fully surrendered to Him? Write about how you want the relationship to be at the end of 2014.

Step #3: Write out a few easy action steps that will help you move in the direction of where you want your relationship with God to be. Write out an action plan.

*If you are brave, write out on a separate sheet of paper & share your action plan with a trusted friend and pray for them throughout this year!

Advertisements

What my 3 yr. Old got RIGHT and I got WRONG… A Lesson in Perspective

Wednesdays are Daddy days.
These days are days where I spend the day with my children while my wife is at work.

Today the kids and I started the morning by running to our yard outside our apartment.
We went to Tim Hortons for our Daddy Date #164 🙂
Then we went to the park in the village.
It was a beautiful day. Blue skies, no wind and the greenest spring grass!

As we were leaving Joel grabbed a dandelion off the ground.
It was beat up and nasty. It had been stepped on and was just rotting on the play ground stones.
Despite how beat up this dandelion was it was still unmistakeable with the yellow tint, a dandelion.
I told Joel “Put that down, it’s garbage.”
He obeyed and put it down…

Almost 10 seconds later as we are moving closer to the car, Joel picked a new dandelion.
This time I acknowledged his new dandelion but again I told him to put it down.
I did this because dandelions in my mind have always been weeds…
Weeds are not beautiful, they are weeds…

As we were driving back to our house Joel looked out his window and with MUCH excitement yelled out to me… DAD! DANDELIONS!!!!
He was pumped!!!

As excited as he was I told him the view I have always taken towards dandelions…
“Joel, dandelions are not beautiful they are Weeds…”

As soon as those words came out of my mouth I realized I was so WRONG…
Dandelions are beautiful, yes they might be weeds and they might cause allergies, but the flower is beautiful… Who am I to tell him that a weed can’t be beautiful… God created it to be beautiful!!!

This epiphany floored me in my view of flowers but also as a student pastor about what God is doing in the lives our students.
I believe often(not always), we (adults) look as students and we say that they are not important like weeds, they are annoying like allegories, or the worst perspective, we look at broken hurting students and we say they are garbage… Worthless weeds… Worthless teens…

We do this because because we forgot what it’s like to be a kid, to see GODS BEAUTY in PEOPLE and THE WORLD…

I read this today and I believe it fits well with my unexpected epiphany this morning:

Matthew 9:9-13
9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.

10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. 11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

How do you view the dandelions?
They are more than weeds… There is beauty there in that flower
How do you view students?
They are much more than annoying and worthless… There is MUCH beauty and creativity and passion to honor and Follow Jesus…

You Are A Bad Volunteer… Defeating Lies with Truth about volunteering…

Being a volunteer in student ministry is not an easy job…Often new volunteers jump into student ministry not realizing what they have signed up for. I don’t think anybody realizes how intimidating the process of moving from a new volunteer to a veteran volunteer is or how rewarding it can be.

Student ministry volunteers will often face feelings of worthlessness & overwhelming ineffectiveness with their contribution in the lives of students. Often this is the hard part of the process, and overcoming ourselves(and these lies) is necessary for you to begin to write the story God has called us to. I want to encourage you by identifying some of the lies you might have told yourself. I hope in reading these that you realize your not the only one who has fallen prey to these lies. After acknowledging the lie I hope you hear the truth and a practical way to combat the lie with TRUTH in action…

Here are some of the lies I have seen in the approach to volunteering in student ministry…. People who believe these lies will never find fulfillment in student ministry… It is our choice to choose to believe the truth over the lie… Choose wisely, lives are literally hanging in the balance… No pressure though…

LIE #1: “I am here, students come to me”…

Just showing up is not good enough in the long run, if you want to make a real impact. Take a risk and say hello, ask a question, and most importantly listen to the answer… Standing around talking to adults will leave you feeling unaccomplished at the end of every youth gathering ever…

LIE #2: The youth pastor is more engaging with the students and building relationships comes easy to him, so I the volunteer get a free pass…

The Youth Pastor, no matter how great he “Engages and Builds relationships” with students, IS ONLY ONE GUY… He can’t build a meaningful relationship with every student… He needs you to buy into the reality that you are on the team to build Christ centered relationships with students. No free passes in student ministry, we are only strong when we work together in greeting and meeting and remembering His kids.

LIE #3: It’s my job to keep peace…

Yes, but, peace is better kept when your sitting with or standing with the students rather than the other side of the room… Don’t think you are more effective in the back of the room. No students should be in the back of the room, peace is easy when nobody is there… Walls don’t build relationships, leave them alone, be with the students….

LIE #4: I’m not the “cool volunteer”….

I HATE this lie because, God doesn’t make accidents, you are on the team because one student won’t connect with any other leader, BUT YOU…. Stop Hiding, start Finding the student God has prepared for YOU to impact with the HOPE of Christ…

Satan is the best liar this world has ever seen…. Believing these lies are part of his plan to keep you from being effective in serving Jesus in this most important ministry… Veteran youth leaders know these lies are present and rejects them every time they arise with action. Know your not alone because of Jesus you don’t have to hide behind these lies anymore. The lies are identified and called out… Now the real work begins!!!

What lies have you believed? What is the truth that helped you overcome?

ACTS Prayer Guide to a New Year!

A-C-T-S Prayers: This weekend we prayed through the ACTS Prayer guide, this is what we used… I Hope you are able to use it also!

 

1. Adoration: Praising God for who He is

Read & Reflect:

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:1, 2, 4, 5, 8 NLT)

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. (Psalms 46:1 NLT)

  • Pray that God would give you a greater understanding of His Word.
  • Pray for God to place a desire in your heart to know Him and be known by Him
  • Pray that you may better realize how much God loves you and what He has done for you.

 

2. Confession: Releasing to God your sins

Read & Reflect:

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. (1 John 1:8-10 NLT)

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. (Proverbs 28:13 NLT)

  • Talk to God about the sins you have knowingly committed this weekend.
  • Talk to God about any sins you find yourself repeating.
  • Talk to God about any relationships that have been broken because of sin… (Gossip, lies, unforgiveness)

 

3. Thanksgiving: Thank God for all He has done.

Reflect on these verses:

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. (Hebrews 12:28 NLT)

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6, 7 NLT)

  • List 10 blessings in your life you are thankful for, pray and thank God for them.
  • Pray that Jesus would help you to have a more thankful 2013 than 2012.
  • Pray and Thank God for His Son and life we have because of His Life, Death & Resurrection.

 

4. Supplication: Asking, making requests to God

Read & Reflect:

Take delight in the Lord , and he will give you your heart’s desires. (Psalms 37:4 NLT)

Give your burdens to the Lord , and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. (Psalms 55:22 NLT)

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:16 NLT)

  • Pray for boldness to have great conversations with God this year, talking to Him like a best friend.
  • Pray for any requests you may have.
  • Pray for Jesus give you hope for the new year and a glimpse of how He wants to grow in you and move through you!

 

Dear God: How to Write A Letter To God

This Letter To God is one of the most personal prayers you can pray in the new year. Be honest with yourself and with God. Take a good look at where your relationship with God is leading you and where you know He wants you to be going this year.

Write about your current relationship with God. Think about God as your friend, Would you say you are close friends or distant? Write about why you think that. 

Write about the relationship with God you want to have. Are there areas you need to grow in? Are there areas of your life you have not fully surrendered to Him? Write about how you want the relationship to be at the end of the year.

Write out a few easy steps that will help you move in the direction of where you want your relationship with God to be. What are you going to do about what you have just wrote? Write out an easy plan. 

Sticking It To Your Teen *Updated*

As a youth pastor I believe one of the biggest issue facing the parent and teenager relationship is communication. More specifically a lack of communication coming from parents. It is said that advertisers communicate messages to our students anywhere from 500-1000 times a day. One study I looked at from cbsnews.com said that one in three kids between 12-17 years old send over 100 text messages a day. Looking at these numbers I believe one thing stands out. Our teenagers are communicating, or at least being communicated to ALOT.

With hundreds, maybe thousands, of messages being communicated to and at our teenagers every day, I believe as parents this should cause us to think about what we are communicating to our children. What messages are they hearing from us about their identity, belonging, support of the family, self worth, empathy, faith and love? These topics may seem heavy to some and daunting for parents who feel they don’t know how to communicate or where to start with their teenagers. The reality is that these conversations don’t have some fool proof formula or someone selling a sham-wow-like solution to communicating with your teenager. The reality is if the parent and teen communications have broken down it will take many awkward attempts at conversation. Also required will be be time; time with your teen. Invite them to join with you and share your life with them. At the least it will keep them from playing video games.

Sometimes we need a kickstart, something to help us begin conversation that will lead to more communication. One of the best ways I remember this happening when I was a teenager was with sticky notes or just a simple handwritten note. Below I have created a fun little activity that I believe will help you as a parent kickstart the conversation between you and your teenager. If you are a parent who has a great relationship with your teen and you’re communicating in a way that would make Dr. Phil proud, this activity will only serve to strengthen your relationship and add lasting value to their very being.

As I bring this in for a closing I want to give you my personal secret for relational success. On any given middle school event we could have anywhere between 70-200 students in our building. I am someone who believes in relational ministry; that God has put these students in our lives to have a Christ Centered relationship that points people toward His Hope. Communication is a big deal to help as many students as possible feel like they belong. I like to think of beginning those relationships as building on Common Ground. The more ground you have the more you can build. I believe this is the same idea when it comes to parenting and beginning to build back communication that has been lost. Common Ground as simple as “Your upset at me, I get that, I remember when I used to be upset with my parents” but “I remember when we started talking again, I wished we never stopped”. In building Common Ground the goal is that your teenager knows that you are listening to them and that they are a valuable part of your family.

As we have all survived the ending of the Mayans calendar, I pray that we would use this year to focus on our communication between people in our “God given small group” – our family. Maybe you have read this and you don’t have teenagers anymore, I would invite you to call or meet with someone who does and encourage them as they are leading and guiding their children through this world of communication.

Stick It To Your Teenager Activity:
Supplies:
– A Sharpie
– A Stack Of Sticky Notes

What to do:
While your teenager is out of the house, take the supplies mentioned and go to the bathroom your child uses the most…
Fill the mirror with positive words speaking Gods Truth into them and how beautiful they are and how much you value them as apart of your family!!!

Possible Verses:
Psalms 139:13-14
Proverbs 29:25
Galations 1:10

3 Tips to Volunteer Effectively in Student Ministry!!!

1. Keep The First Things First

This is very important, Chances are if you are in youth ministry, you are in because you are full of energy and love to have fun and in some ways we have not fully grown up yet (thankfully). But the down side to those things is that often we get distracted and side tracked very quickly.  Volunteering as you know is not a paid position in the church. But volunteers are one of the most important privileges you can have because of the direct INFLUENCE you have on others. With your influence you are showing, teaching, modeling what Following Jesus looks like and the difference He makes in our lives. Keeping the first things first is all about your relationship with Jesus, allowing Him to work in YOUR HEART as you point students to Him. Are you spending time in God’s Word? Are you growing? What advice would you give to a student who was living your life? Keeping the First Things First means that everything we do, we do for Jesus because He gave to us! We must live lives that honor God.

2. Be A Leader Before You Are A Friend

This one is simple: The students, they have enough friends, they don’t need another friend. What students really need is people who can guide them and lead them to make wise choices with their lives. They need adults who are willing to speak truth into their lives because they have been down that road before. If you remember back to when you were a teenager, the people you RESPECTED were the most fun. The adults who tried to act like teenagers were the ones you laughed at… Its a tention but it is very important to be a leader before you are their friend. Being a leader first eventually the relationship will turn into a friendship, but a relationship born out of friendship will be a challenge to turn toward leadership.

3. Make The Most Of The Time

The youth pastor can’t make you connect with students, the students can’t make you have fun. Students feed of the energy of their leaders. If you are excited to learn and excited to be there, they will follow your lead. They are desiring for YOU to be involved and show them why you signed up to be apart of the student ministry! When students see leaders only talking to other leaders they feel devalued. I remember feeling that way when I was a student… Its not fun…  If you signed up because you want to serve God through student ministry then make the most of your time and talk with the students!!! Before and after the youth group time is when volunteers meet and hang out. During the program it can not be stressed enough, remember why you signed up (FOR THE STUDENTS) and be intentional to be with them! The students want to talk to you, maybe not all of them… BUT most do!!!

I hope this is encouraging to you as you volunteer in student ministry wherever you are in the world! Working with students is one of the greatest responsibilities in world because it effects the rest of their lives and eternity!!! Incase nobody else has said it… THANK YOU FOR SERVING THE LORD THROUGH LOVING HIS TEENAGERS!

Thank you for stopping by!!!

-Tom