90 Day Challenge – Week One Done

GOYOWe are one week into our 90 Day Challenge. If you began on January 7, today marks the beginning of week 2 and we are moving quickly through the book of Matthew. By the middle of this week we will be in the book of Mark.

I’ve heard some good feedback already from those who have taken the challenge. One person said the questions in the book have been helpful in thinking through the scriptures. Another commented that she has read some things she didn’t remember reading before. It’s amazing how God’s Word speaks to us in different ways in different times. Keep up the good work!

A couple of things to consider as we begin week 2:

1) The Goal is to Develop a Habit. The whole point of the 90 Day Challenge is to give us a tool to that helps us spend time with God on a regular basis. It’s not meant to be a checklist or simply a task. Some people like to answer the questions. Others don’t. The purpose is for each of us to develop the habit of spending time with God in His Word. If you miss a day, just pick it up the next day. Focus on the habit and let God speak to you through your time with Him.

2). It’s Not Too Late to Start. If you don’t have a book yet, you can still be a part of it. One of our small groups is talking about modifying the plan a little bit and won’t do all of it in 90 Days. That’s OK. Again, our goal is to spend time with God. The 90 Day Challenge is a tool, but it’s not the only one.

Please feel free to share any insights your gain from your time in God’s Word. We have a Facebook page that let’s you do just that. We want to hear from you what you are learning from His Word.

90 Day Challenge Begins Today!

GOYOTo start off 2013, we have offered a challenge to our IMPACT students and any adults who want to join in. It is called the G.O.Y.O (Growing On Your Own) 90 Day Challenge. Beginning today, January 7th, we are offering the opportunity to read through the New Testament in ninety days.

The main idea behind it is to help each of us develop the habit of spending time with God – on our own. Meeting with other believers in study, worship, small groups and other settings is important to our spiritual development. It is also vital that we set aside time during the week to spend time with God. The 90 Day Challenge is just one way to do that.

If you have accepted the challenge, please go to our Facebook page and let us know you are in! We can encourage each other as we move through the next three months.

If you have not accepted the challenge, you can jump in at any time. Over 60 books have gone out to people who want to be a part of it. We’d love to have you join us.  Click here is you need more information.

Bible on iPads, iPhones and Other Devices at Youth Group

youversionWe have a number of our students who use their iPhones, Kindles, iPads and other devices to look up scripture. Most of the time I’m doing the same thing. This article was posted today on The Youth Cartel website. Thought it brought an interesting perspective to whether a youth worker allows these devices or not.

This is a link to the entire article. I just pasted in the reasons they offered. Thoughts?

1. Brain Based Research demonstrates kids learn best when we integrate technology into the classroom. So why wouldn’t this also apply to the youth room? “Technology is valued within our culture. It is something that costs money and that bestows the power to add value. By giving students technology tools, we are implicitly giving weight to their school activities. Students are very sensitive to this message that they, and their work, are important.” – From article “The Effects of Technology on Classrooms and Students”

2. They are on their devices anyways. You can monitor and police and take away… but that is exhausting. It’s easier to allow the devices and set some ground rules and gasp in shock… kids will usually respect the rules you set. When you show them enough trust to allow them the use of electronics, they will not want to lose the privilege.

3. I am training for real life. Our students do not live in a bubble void of Apple products. When students leave our youth ministry they will still be bombarded with technology and the distractions there of. I would rather train and equip my kids to be able to use technology effectively in and out of the church setting. I want my own kids to acknowledge and be prepared to handle the “temptation of distraction” of the devices in their possession. Isn’t it better to be able to learn how to use technology to learn God’s Word, as opposed to sneaking it under their jackets and running off to the bathroom to text? I want my kids to know that technology IS distracting, so how do we deal with it and turn it around for our benefit instead?

4. I want the challenge. If church is boring and kids are playing Star Wars Angry Birds during my youth talk, then I have not done my job of engaging them. Same holds true for big church. People vote with their attention. When something is captivating, interesting and well executed it commands attention. Like a movie or TV show that has won me over… I close my laptop when I am really engaged with what I am watching on TV. In church… I fiercely take notes on Evernote when it’s “that good.”

5. It levels the playing field. Yes, I am all for Bible literacy and for knowing how to actually use a hard copy Bible. We still play the books of the Bible song in the car on the way to school, so my kids are not ignorant of such things. But we don’t teach Latin anymore either. Is the only Bible on our shelves the Latin Vulgate? We live in a new day, with the Bible available and accessible to us in so many wonderful ways. Why not embrace that reality and use it to help kids learn? Kids with learning disabilities or ADHD can often participate much more effectively when technology isn’t banned from church. Some kids learn best with a hands on hard copy edition of the Bible. Some kids (and adults) do not. Technology can help kids who struggle. Many students will track with your lesson much more efficiently and accurately than without their devices. When a brand new kid walks into church and sits at my table, I hate seeing them feel dumb when they have no idea (because they are new to church) of how to look up a Bible verse. Everyone stares at them. They shrink in their seat and fumble through the pages. Instead, I can in 30 seconds install the Bible app for them on their phone, and they can easily navigate through that. And guess what? This un-churched kid now has an easy to use Bible in their possession that didn’t cost anything from my youth budget.

The Best Question Ever – a review

best questionAndy Stanley is one of my favorite authors and speakers. He communicates in an engaging way, both in the spoken and written word, and is also very practical. He continues that in his book The Best Question Ever.

In this offering, Stanley explores what he calls a new approach to decision-making. His premise is that rather than look to make the right decision, we should look to make the wise decision. He states it like this: “In light of your past experience, your current circumstance, and your future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do.”  Rather than just look at a decision and see if there is anything wrong with it, we should see what is wise.

In The Best Question Ever Stanley applies this question to decisions regarding our time, our money and our relationships.  In all these areas, making wise decisions is vital because they can have lasting impact on our own lives and those around us.

I like how Stanley emphasizes the importance of making wise choices on page 125 of the book:  “None of us plan – or intend – to get into trouble.  The problem is, we don’t have a plan not to.  Adopting the Best Question Ever enables us to plan not to.”

Everyone wants to make good decisions.  In this book, Stanley gives some good insight from God’s Word on how to go about making good decisions and part of it is seeing that we are not as unique as we think we are.  When faced with a decision, we can convince ourselves that we are the exception to the rule.  We can go down a certain path because we can handle it, we are smarter or it simply won’t happen to us like it does to other people.  On page 111, he puts on paper what many people think:  “Nobody has ever felt this way before. No one has to deal with what I have to deal with.  I can handle it.  I’m not live everybody else…”

Stanley speaks directly to our need to see that we aren’t unique, that we do need wisdom outside of our ourselves, that wisdom seeks advice from others and God wants to help us make those wise decisions.

The Best Question Ever would be a good resource for high school and college students and young adults.  While more mature adults would benefit from this book, many of the decisions to which he refers are being made by those in the young adult period of their lives.  This would be a good tool for pastors and leaders in student ministry to work through in a small group setting.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review

Day of War – the Movie

I have read the first two books in the Lion of War series by Cliff Graham. Both were excellent books about David and his Mighty Men. I have also read the short stories called David and Benaiah. All of the stories use the biblical account of David and his Mighty Men as a springboard into these fictional stories.

The cool thing is that now Day of War is being made into a movie. The setting is Hawaii and production is under way. You can see some pictures from the work that is being done and can even get on board in helping to fund the film. Check out the video:

Day of War – Back the Movie! from Giantkiller Pictures on Vimeo.

BELIEVE Recap

We took a group of 31 from our church to BELIEVE Junior High Conference this past weekend.  If you are unfamiliar with this program, you must check it out at the Christ In Youth website.  They do a great job creating experiences for junior high students. The adults even get something out of the weekend.

This year was no exception and was, in my opinion, one of the best overall weekends I have attended.  The speaking was excellent, the message was clear, the music was rocking and the it all pointed back to the theme.  It was called “The Word Tour” and it challenged students to appreciate, read and live God’s Word.

As I was summarizing the weekend in my mind, I came away with these three take-a-ways:

  1. Love God, Love People – on Friday night, we were reminded that the two most important things we can do is love God and love others.  The challenge was pretty simple – which of those do we as individuals need to address?  Is it our love for God or love for people?
  2. Hide God’s Word in your heart – we hide God’s Word not that no one can see it, but so that no one can take it from us.  We need to spend time in His Word and hide it in our hearts so it is always with us.
  3. Inhale, Exhale – we can’t keep God’s Word to ourselves; we need to speak it and share it.  We inhale when we study together, but then we need to exhale it by sharing it with others.  Thought that was a great analogy.

It was a great weekend and I am grateful for the opportunity to share it together with our students and adults. Those types of experiences are great in the context of community as we come home, share memories and help each other do something with what we heard.

I Am Doing a Good Work

My YouVersion reading this past week took me through the story of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem.  Think it is interesting that nothing miraculous happened in that event.  God just used people who were committed to do what He laid on their heart to do.

I was catching up on listening to some podcasts and I listened to a message from Andy Stanley, who used the story of Nehemiah to launch into the new year.  He emphasized a verse I had read and it further cemented that principle in my mind.

Nehemiah, who lead the rebuilding, faced many different obstacles.  Two of those obstacles were named Sanballat and Geshem.  They wanted to distract Nehemiah by pulling him off the wall.

Read their invitation and note Nehemiah’s response from Nehemiah 6:2-4

“Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.” But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”  Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.”

Nehemiah didn’t allow their words distract him from the good work God had given him.  Andy Stanley made the point that while each of us has a different work we are doing, we cannot allow distractions to cause us to stop and leave that good work.

While we may not be rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, what good work has God given each one of us to do that we shouldn’t leave for other distractions?

YouVersion

I know I am behind the curve on this one as there are many people already taking advantage of this tool, but Lifechurch.tv offers an online Bible tool called YouVersion.

I started using it this week to help me read through the Bible in a year. You can access several different reading plans and versions of the Bible. It will track your progress and will even send each day’s reading through as RSS feed or to your phone.

Craig Groeschel is the lead pastor of lifechurch.tv that provides the tool. I have been listening to some of his podcasts and he encourages those in attendance to read the scriptures from the Bible they brought or access it on their phone. Good way to keep people connected to scripture.

If you are looking for a reading plan to help keep you on track, YouVersion might be for you.