Influencing Youth  

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About every 10 years it seems that the styles of dress change dramatically, to one degree or another. I just received an e-mail from "All Pro Dad" which examined how a father's influence can affect how his daughter dresses. This impacted me even if I don't have a daughter.

The other day when I was subbing a teenage girl was displaying a complacent attitude about being called an inappropriate name which depicts her morality. Within the same period she told me she was going to play football next year. She is not even close to any type of size that would be able to hold her own on the football field. She is excited, at this time, about playing. In reality, and having played a little organized football in my younger years, I doubt she will make it to the first game, but that isn't the point here.

Discussing football led to discussing what locker room she would use. She communicated a lack of care regarding dressing in front of the rest of the (male) team. I couldn't let this moment go by without suggesting that she need to "have more respect for herself" than to "not care" about where she changes. I don't know if this teenage girl has a good father-figure in her life or not. But statistics show that fathers have a very high influence on their daughters' self-esteem and other areas. I hope that teens like her will be able to develop more "care" regarding their lifestyles, whether it is through their parents' influence or others' whom they trust. May we be praying for areas like this, that God might use you to help make a difference, whether you have children or they are your children.

Boys and girls, sons and daughters, each need good modeling and influences from their parents. If you have children in your home, do all you can to continually stay involved in their life. If your children are separated from your home, due to a divorce or other removal, still use every chance you can to be involved in their life. If you are in the latter category, it will be more challenging, but stay involved! If you are in the first category, don't take it for granted that your children will always be in your home, take every night as a special night to be a family.

Making the most of every moment...
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To read the short e-mail that I received, you can view it online at http://www.allprodad.com/pod/podlist.php?y=2008&m=4 .Then click on April 29.Share/Bookmark

Christians, Do You Remember Why You Are a Christian?  

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Pressure can cause a person to have a lack of judgment in a given situation. Whether it comes from peers, time, family, society, or self, they all can wreak havoc. Christians have the additional pressure of giving in to what the flesh wants to do, as in the battle between spiritual and worldliness. You may know something isn't good for you, but you compromise it momentarily. Or, maybe it isn't necessarily "bad" for you, so you compromise it, but at the same time it isn't "good" for you either.

What pressures have you been experiencing lately? As we looked at an Overview of I Peter, yesterday, we examined how the Christians in those days were experiencing great persecution from the Roman government. We are blessed to not be living in a society that isn't anywhere close their's. As we make an attempt to try to relate to a little of what they might have experienced, let's examine these applications...

  1. Part of the reason that something loses its appeal and becomes "old" is that there are other things that are better that you can replace it with. That is the deception that causes people to fall away from their faith. Maybe someone comes along that makes their faith seem better than your's or you feel a void in your own faith that causes you to look elsewhere. Either way, the other looks better. However, it is not better at all. What you have IN CHRIST is the best of the best. Your faith may be "aged" but it is never "old". It is still just as new and exciting as it was when you first believed. Appreciate what you have IN CHRIST and praise God for your faith...Stand tall, Christian!
  2. Team pride can be a very effective stimulant to continue on in a contest. As you are on the "Chosen Race", "Royal Priesthood", and "Holy Nation" team, you are on a team that has never lost. It is undefeated. Only those that have formed their own "team" because they, temporarily or indefinitely, thought another "team" was more appealing have ever lost. We all have taken ourselves off this team, and each time we do, we lose. And at each loss, I tell the "coach" that I messed up and ask if I can be back on the team, and He says "Yes." May the pride that comes from being a member on this team inspire you to keep going another step, another minute, another quarter, another mile...just never give up!
  3. Going through trying times is never enjoyable. Even if you can look back on an experience and appreciate something that came from it, if it was bad, it was still bad. Christians will suffer before they enter into heaven. The Bible tells us that. Look at each time of suffering as an opportunity to do the following:
    1. Grow...into a more mature Christian.
    2. Learn...how to turn suffering into opportunity.
    3. Reflect Jesus...to those around you.
    4. Develop...perseverance for a possible next time.
As a Christian, you go through a lot each and every day. But, friend, let me assure you that it is all worth it. The end result will ultimately be eternal bliss. Just keep on keeping on. Stay on the narrow road, no matter how appealing the broad road looks. Walk away from the conversation when it is going against your conscience. You know what is right and wrong, now stick with it, you'll be glad you did!

Have a great week!

Sharing Jesus ~Share/Bookmark

E-mail Encouragement: Leaving a Mark  

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Kids are very impressionable. The closer and more trustworthy a person is to a child, the more they are able to make an impression on them. Typically this is the parents and/or grandparents. However, to an extent, we all have the potential to make an impression on a child. Each time you are around them, there is a certain amount of impression you leave behind. That brings us to this week's quote...

A child's life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark. ~ Chinese Proverb

Oliver is definitely impressionable. He has begun reacting to us, as parents, and it is such a fun time to see him go through his different stages of development. These stages are not just physical (holding head up, scooting, talk-screaming, etc.), but they also involve trust and recognition. Oliver smiles, what seems like forever, when Aubrey and I are talking to him. I love any chance I get to be around him, hold him, and help to mold him into a little boy. I have high hopes as to what he will be like in his character when he matures. One of the ways to get him to where I would like him to be is to consistently model and teach him the character I want him to develop.

Two applications...One, how about your "Jesus-impression" on every person you come in contact with? How are you modeling your Christianity? Are you making a positive impression or a negative one. Negative would be saying you're a Christian, but then acting nothing like that outside of the assembly. Two, what types of marks has God had on your life? Something similar between us and a child is that we both learn who to trust by being around them. Your lack of trust in God may be as a result of not letting Him make an impression on you. Not only do you make impressions on others, at the same time, be impressionable!

The next time you see a child, or even someone else, think about what impression you are giving them.

Enjoying Fatherhood ~Share/Bookmark

Monday Mentionings: Words of Wisdom from the Workshop - Part III  

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Culture...the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time. That is part of Merriam-Webster's definition. Wal-Mart, Old Navy, Barnes and Noble, and Starbucks all employ marketing gurus to make sure that they are able to consistently reach the culture. If they were to fail, their sales would drop. Thus, causing their "sails" to drop. In other words, they wouldn't be able to be in the race with their competitors. The church has the same challenge. We are not in the "sales" arena, but we must be willing to do what we can to keep our "sails" up so that we will not get lost at sea.

Yesterday, we concluded the "Words of Wisdom From the Workshop" sermon series. Here are a couple of applications from the two sermons that were referred to yesterday...

  1. "How to Get Today's Culture to Listen to the Ancient Gospel" - Jeff Walling - Are there people in your culture that you would have a hard time talking to, based on something superficial about them? I think we would all answer yes. However, one thing that I've come to realize is that God can use us in any situation. Pray that you will be ready to share Jesus in a practical and relevant way to people that you meet. Pray a "stretching" prayer that God will help you move past the comfort levels you currently have so that you may be able to "win some" (I Corinthians 9:22-23). Don't forget to set your cell phones to 3:16 (for John 3:16) or 4:15 (for Mark 16:15) to pray for someone who needs Jesus or that God would lead you to someone who needs Jesus!!!
  2. "Praying with Anticipation" - Randy Harris - "What a day that will be" we sing as we think about the day when we get to see Jesus. THE day when prayers will cease because the saved will go "up" and the unsaved will go "down". However, God is able to do supernatural things. So, if He wills the world to be at peace, for pain to be diminished, and/or for all confusion to be nonexistent, then it can be done. May we be praying with the anticipation of that day..."are you ready"? "There's a great day comin'...are you ready for that day to come?" God is good...All the time!!!

You're a part of a culture...Now, go and take part in connecting your culture with Jesus!

Anticipating the next open door ~
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E-mail Encouragement:: Keeping the Door Open  

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The other day when Aubrey and I were praying together she prayed concerning open doors, being used, etc. Within ten minutes I received a call asking if I would consider speaking at this year's baccalaureate. It wasn't the biggest invitation, nor did it have to be, but it was God's way of saying, "Here's an open door." God works. Whether it was ten minutes or ten years, He works. We must be ready for those opportunities...which brings us to this week's quote to think about...

The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience. ~ Emily Dickinson

Knowing that "ecstatic" was something good, but not knowing exactly what it meant, I decided to look up the definition. It's root word means "unable to stand". Your experience causes you to feel like you have to sit down. To me, this is just another branch to the definition of how God surprises us with putting people in our path that we can help connect with Jesus. So...

The next time you are wondering what "ecstatic experience" is coming your way, be prepared for something that you didn't expect. Don't ever close the door on an opportunity to do something good. Look for ways to provide others with an "ecstatic experience", too.

Keeping the door open ~Share/Bookmark

If you've never been to the Tulsa Workshop or you haven't been in a long time, you really need to go. It is a great time to be in an "out of the ordinary" environment to get pumped about your faith. Whether you are one who is pumped through the vocalized word, singing, or seeing several young people devote themselves to go to another country to serve Him, it all happens at Tulsa!

Where are you at when you are reading this? Where you are at, that is where the church is located at during this particular moment in history. As you are reading this, the health of the church depends on how healthy your heart is. Each of these deal with today's points of applications to yesterday's lesson...

  1. "The Church Has Left the Building" - Rick Atchley - As I said earlier, where you're at is where the church is at, right now. Each one of us holds on to a part of the net that we are casting in order to try to "catch" others. That net is spread wide, across our area. Did you cast your part of the net today, or did you keep hold of it? I hope to cast it more than once, depending on who God sends me to or sends to me today. Remember to cast your part of the net with each encounter you experience!
  2. "Heart Matters" - Buddy Bell - Ever felt like you were being a very superficial Christian? Maybe it was because you were having a rough week or because you felt the world closing in on you. You would go through the motions, just to try to make it to the next day or week. Superficial Christianity is not true Christianity. We may be able to make it through one week alright, but being that way week after week will cause us to fall away from God and not toward Him. What is in your heart is what truly shows the how much you trust, rely, internalize, and love God. Simply thinking about how you will share Jesus today/this week will show what is in your heart. Do you trust in Him to give you the words to say? Do you rely on Him to direct a "fertile soil" heart to you? Do you internalize the joy that comes from sharing Him? Do you love Him enough to participate in the luxury of sharing your faith with someone else? Your actions show your heart...what will your heart "do" for Him today?

I am still being surprised by God...regularly! It is awesome to see how much God puts in my path on a regular basis. I am giddy each day as I can't wait to see what is going to happen that day. How about you? How does God show up in your life...who does He bring forth?

Continually Blessed ~Share/Bookmark

Jesus on American Idol  

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Terry Rush, a fellow minister, prays that God will show up in the media. Thursday night on American Idol, the final group of singers sang a contemporary Christian song to the audience who was listening and/or tuning in.

For that small window of time, the astonishing millions of viewers, people are asked to watch and hear about "my Jesus"

WAY TO GO, GOD!!!Share/Bookmark

Surprised at School  

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Subbing today led to a day full of surprises...

First, a student comes in wanting to work on the computers, partly, and didn't like the sub in the class she was in, partly. As time passed, a conversation arose about relationships/marriage. God allowed me to use a passion for relationships, combined with Love and Respect, with someone.

Later on in the day, I noticed a brochure that I had created laying on top of some books. I asked whose it was, the student sitting there said it was theirs. The assignment was to make a copycat version of the brochure. I told her that I had made it. I was excited that someone chose a brochure that I had created to use as something to model for an assignment. She showed me the brochure, as it was almost finished. It looked very close to the original. She only lacked some pictures, which I proudly told her that I have the graphics and would give them to her. This was an open door to help someone in need of something I could provide, pictures.

In the last class, a student finished his work and decided to come and visit with me because he was "tired of typing". I know the student, I know his family. I enjoyed our visit. Our conversation allowed us to deepen our friendship. God used me to play the part of "dot connector" in the life of this young man.

These weren't the only "God showing up" moments. One other was being asked to be a reference for someone. I get pumped anticipating as to what the next minute will hold and how God will show up and use me.

How has He been using you?Share/Bookmark

Can't Wait...Conclusion  

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Earlier in the week I wrote about the opportunity to be an "in school suspension" supervisor. I had the open opportunity to be around two fifth grade boys, who had been in a scuffle the day before, from around 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

The boys were not enemies, but had just gotten into a bit of a scuffle the day before, after being laughed at was "the last straw".

This is an awkward age for boys. They are in the middle of childhood and teenager. They know a lot, but they don't know much. They like to joke about big boy things without knowing fully what it actually might mean.

God gave me the open door to tutor, mentor, and minister. I helped with homework. I squeezed in some "how to behave" comments, and I found out a bit about their religious and family background.

One boy kept me on my toes as to when the bathroom breaks were to come. I laughed after the second time. As a person who works by myself, I don't think about a "timed" bathroom break. I had told the boys that at a certain time, each hour, we would go to the restroom. I was busy working when the one boy said, "Isn't it time to go to the bathroom?" Then, the next hour he said, "It is about 10:30, didn't you say we could go to the bathroom then?" He made me smile and laugh throughout the day. Since they didn't get any recess or other special privileges, walking to the bathroom was good enough, like prisoners going outside. Even at the end of the day, he was making sure I knew what time it is so that they could go back and put their books away, before they had to get on the bus, to make sure they didn't miss the bus.

Kids are funny and I enjoyed my day. Thank you, God, for the open door to see the surprises of the day!

The "Can't Wait" day was definitely worth the anticipation!Share/Bookmark

E-mail Encouragement: Going Far  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

Ever been in a hurry? Sure you have. We all have. You may be behind in your schedule or behind a slowpoke. Either one, may result in being in a hurry. When you’re in a hurry you don’t want anyone or anything to slow you down. However, what about the journey between point A and B, did you get a chance to see it and/or enjoy it? Think about it as you read this week’s quote...


“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”


What about in the church? Does it pay to go fast and alone or go far and together? As we go alone we don't get the opportunity to enjoy the journey together. As we go together, we get to enjoy each other's company, be "picked up" when we're worn down, and revel in each other's victories.

What a privilege we have to be a part of a team that aims to work together to make sure that we all arrive at the finish line together!

Anticipating how far we can go!

Serving Him ~

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Monday Mentionings: Words of Wisdom from the Workshop - Part 1  

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It was good to be back in the “saddle” (aka pulpit) again! Tulsa is always a great experience. May be hard for many to understand what it feels like to be “fed” when one is always “feeding”. Tulsa provides this opportunity for me, which I am always “chomping at the bit” to go to by the time February comes around. As I share with you some “Words of Wisdom from the Workshop”, from a few of the messages that I heard, I hope you can gain some application from them as well. Here are some additional applications from yesterday’s message…

  1. “UNChristian: How the World Views Us” – by Don McLaughlin – What type of impression did you make on a non-Christian today? Did your actions model something they should want to be a part of? Presuming so, was it difficult to do this? Were there times when you wanted to “lose your cool” or say something else just so you could “zing” someone? Or maybe it was something completely different. Today, (or the next time) when you’re around someone that you would consider a non-Christian (in the store, on the road, at work, at home, at school, etc.) think about how you’re acting and modeling what a Christian should be acting like. Be a reflector of Jesus to someone else!
  2. “Reimagning the Church” – by Patrick Mead – So many things in life take on a different look as times change. Take a mental note on how many slogans change after a while, how many storefronts change or stores get remodeled after a few years, how often styles change through the years. Each one of these things change as the times change. The church should be no different, but we are. If McDonald’s still sold everything for the same price they did when they first opened, they couldn’t afford to stay in business. If a movie maker refused to put sound and/or color in its movies, it would not make it very long. So if the church continues to do things the same as it did in the past, it is not going to reach today’s audience. The church must change with the times. Hamburgers and soda are still what they are. Movies still are based on frames-per-second. The gospel is still the good news. However, we must reimagine what we can do to make the church move from point A to point B and bring as many people in this world and caught up in the world, with it! How do you fit in to this plan? Pray that we will be a “reimagined” church in this area!

I hope your Monday got off to a great start!

May you have many opportunities to model Christ to those who don’t know Him (yet)!

ROCK CHALK JAYHAWKS!!! Kansas Pride!!!

Serving Him ~Share/Bookmark

Can't Wait!  

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Tomorrow I get the chance to be an "in school suspension" supervisor, and I'm excited about it! This may sound odd for someone to be excited about, but look at it this way. God has allowed me to be a model to two boys who, I'm told, were in a scuffle.

I am drawn to "Matthews" (aka tax collectors). Those who "no one likes". I'm not saying that these kids are not liked, but I will probably find out more about the root of the cause of the scuffle as I have 7 hours around them.

I don't know how God will use me. For all I know, He may use me to impact someone else's life, other than those students. But I can't wait to see how He will...

Until later...anticipating the surprise in being used...Share/Bookmark

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!  

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Gomer Pyle was one who often was "surprised" on the Andy Griffith Show. Lately, I've been able to share in some big surprises.

Last week was the Tulsa International Soul Winning Workshop. The biggest single gathering for the Church of Christ - since 1975. There are people that come from practically all parts of the country and world. The speakers are from all over as well.

As it worked out, this year I was able to design the PowerPoint slides that were used for promotional purposes. I thought that was awesome! To get to help out a workshop that I have enjoyed going to was a neat thrill. People from all over world use the slides I designed!

Then, while I'm there, one of the speakers wasn't able to speak. I notified the director if he needed a fill-in, I could be ready. As God worked it out, I was given the open door! I was stoked! I was on cloud nine and had to pinch myself. The theme was "Prayer" and I spoke on "How Prayer Impacts Marriage". I didn't know how many people would come being a "fill-in" situation, but it was standing room only! It was a great experience!!! I am still praising God for this experience. I don't know if it will happen again, but I loved that opportunity!

Then, I was surprised by being able to design the next year's logo, PowerPoint slides, and magazine cover. God has blessed me with a great idea already for the theme logo, and I can't wait to build the slides and create the cover.

These are a few of the bigger, out of the ordinary, surprises. God is still putting surprises along my path as I interact with people! I am thrilled with the day-to-day surprises, just as much as the bigger surprises!!! God is Good...All the Time!!!

How have you been surprised???

Anxiously awaiting today's surprises ~Share/Bookmark

E-mail Encouragement: Rekindling Others  

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Just the other day, I was going through the line at our local grocery store. I have gone through her line many times. Each time I approach to be waited on, I ask something of her day, ending with her name (“How are you, [name]?). After all this time, she asks me, “How do you know my name?” I say, “It’s on the receipt.” She replied, “Oh.” Then, I was off to get ice (because I don’t like to grab it and stand in line for it to possibly melt), I responded, “I like to call people by name if I know it because it is better to say a name than not.” I could tell that it kind of opened her eyes and brightened her day, to an extent. Something as simple as calling someone by name can make someone feel good. That brings us to today’s quote…

  • In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. - Albert Schweitzer

Whether it is calling someone by their name, remembering a birthday, a random act of kindness, a card/e-mail/text of encouragement, sharing Jesus with a lost soul, or something else, you can make a world of difference in their life and in the Kingdom by a simple encounter. What happens in that encounter is totally up to you.

How will you rekindle someone’s spirit today? Giving a compliment, calling them by name, listening to their struggles, being patient,…how?

Let me know any situations you were the flame burst-er or had your flame bursted – what happened?

I hope you have a great end of your week!

Anticipating the encounters ~Share/Bookmark