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Mike Brown

Mike Brown

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Dear Dad's, 

That was an amazing night that you gave to your daughter's this past Saturday.  I want to thank you for your time and commitment you set aside to not only giving your time for the evening, but the vast amount of letters and gifts that you presented to each of your precious daughter's was very special.  From my short time of being a dad I know that day after day, week after week, and for me soon to be year after year time can pass us by and we never really stop to think about what a blessing it is that God placed under our care and protection: a daughter.  

A daughter that we have to model for what it means to be loving authority, a caring, merciful father, leading in the home and committed to the church, all at the same time.  It is the father that gives our daughters our picture to them, of a husband.  I hope that all of us are sacrificing our time, our sports enthusiasm, our TV watching and our video game playing to train up our daughters in the way they should go, not just in what we say, but by them watching what we do.  For it is what we do that gives our daughters an example of what is most important to us.  

Thanks again for the commitment and example you showed to the future generation of our young women.  May we continue to be loving husbands, loving fathers and men of God who love the Gospel.  

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It is now 2011 and all of us are in the mindset of setting our goals or resolutions for the upcoming year.  This past Wednesday night the ReformingYouth Student Ministries worked our way through setting our own goals, but we tried to do it in such a way that categorized our goals into the four spheres of the Christian Life.  The four spheres that we each worked our way through was taken from Pastor Greg Roberts at the church and a teaching he has developed and I got the opportunity to hear once called Practical Christianity.   Pastor Roberts would argue that every aspect of a Christians life fits within one of these four categories: Family Life, Personal Relationship with God, Local Church and Society (Work, Friends, School, Etc.)  Below I have listed my goals for 2011.  This is by no means extensive, but I believe these goals are measurable and attainable.  Hopefully this is helpful for each of you to try and set your focus for 2011.

 Family:  

1. Commit my family to eating one meal together 7 days a week. 

2. Commit my Family to either morning or evening focused reading time together.  

3. Commit my family to blocking out 4 hours of focused, continuous time together within the week.  

 Personal Relationship with God

1. Commit myself to focused, uninterrupted reading time through books, outside of the bible, for 20-30 minutes each day either before my family rises or after they go to bed.

2. Commit myself to journaling at least three times each week. 

3.  Commit myself to daily fervent, uninterrupted prayer.  

Local Church

1. Commit myself to at least one lunch per week with 1 student.  

2. Commit myself to at least one meal time with 1 family per month. 

3. Commit myself to meeting with 3 young men on a bi-weekly basis. 

4. Commit myself to meeting with 5 men on a weekly basis on Wednesday mornings.  

Society

1.  Commit myself to completing 2 evangelistic bible studies (Red Book) .

2. Commit myself to building a relationship with my immediate neighbor for the purpose of the gospel. 

3. Commit myself to continue to meeting for coffee with one non-beleiever every other week.    

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While studying for Reformingyouth's annual Fall Retreat I came across a book titled Love Walked Among Us,  by Paul Miller.  While reading chapter 1 titled A Mind Full of Someone Else, Miller brings up a story told from the perspective of Susannah Spurgeon.  

Miller writes, "Chareles Spurgeon was a famous preacher in London more than one hundred years ago.  Though a caring husband and a gentle man, like all of us, he was flawed.  His wife, Susie, once told about a time when she went with her husband to a large auditorium where he was to speak:"

We went together in a cab, and I well remember trying to keep close by hisside as we mingled with the mass of people thronging up the staircase. But by the time we had reached the landing, he had forgotten my existence; the burden of the message was upon him, and he turned into the small side door where the officials were awaiting him, without for a moment realizing that I was left to struggle as best I could with the rough throng around me.  

 At this point I stopped and thought about the perspective of Spurgeon.  I mean he was probably thinking about the message and the importance of handling the word of God accurately.  It sounds as if it was mayham and probably would have been easy to focus on the task as hand and to not purposefully, but accidentally forget about his wife.  Paul Miller says, "Sound familiar? A large crowd, a frightened woman, and a religious teacher. (Luke 7:11-17) Except here the teacher forgets the woman because he was thinking about what he wants to say.  Jesus forgoes a sermon for the sake of a person.  But Spurgeon ignored a person, his wife, for the sake of a sermon."  Susannah says,

At first, I was utterly bewildered, and then...I was angry.  I at once returned home, and told my grief to my gentle mother.  She wisely reasoned that my husband was no ordinary man, that his whole life was dedicated to God and that I must never, never hinder him.

Spurgeon then returned home, upset he couldn't find his wife:

My dear mother went to him and told him the truth.  Quietly he let me tell him how indignant I had felt, and then he repeated mother's little lesson pointing out that before all things, he was God's servant.

Its always amazing how we like to drag God in and justify our wrong actions. God was the reason that Spurgoen ignored his wife.  God was the reason that his wife was left to find her way through the mass crowd and find a cab home. Instead of thinking about it from his wife's perspective, he continues to think about it from his own perspective and the importance of "his ministry."  

How often I do this in my own life?  I think as men we can easily get caught up in pride and arrogance thinking that what we are doing is so much more important than what our wife or even children are doing.  When we come home from work we want our wife, who has taken care of children, cleaned house, ran errands and has but a moment to sit down and breathe, to sit down and listen to all of our many "problems and important issues" from our oh so important day.  I see this in my own life as my wife spends precious moments at home training a 20 and 4 month old little girls.

Am I called to provide for my family? Absolutely!  Am I called to devalue my wife's position?  Absolutely not!  I would not and I don't think any man would ever say their wife's  God given biblical position is any less important than man's, but our actions are very clear to our wives and to those around us.  Not only does my wife see this, but one day my precious daughter's will.  Do I want their example of a husband to be one that a women 's role is devalued by the actions of dad, or one dad lifts up and places front and center.  I want my daughter's to see dad valuing mom and seeing the role of a biblical woman as most precious.  I pray all of us dad's and husbands try and do our best of thinking about our actions from our wife's perspective and the impact it is having on our children.  It is scary when you think of the possible consequences of things like these that we seem to think are insignificant.  

 

    

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I just finished reading an article by Bob Kauflin the director of worship development for Sovereign Grace Ministries titled Receiving the Baton.  In the article when talking about finding someone to pass on your faith to Kauflin states,  "work hard to find someone you can not only learn from, but share life with."  That quote is so simple, yet so profound and with each part of it being filled with so much truth.  Being involved in a church of a little over 400, there is obviously someone to share my life with.  Its not finding someone, but I personally find the difficulty is  getting to a point where you actually share life with one another.  You share burdens, struggles, joys, doctrinal difficulties and so on.  I think all of us cherish what I like to call "depth relationships" with someone of the same gender, but as a male I find it so difficult and time consuming, to finally get "there", wherever "there" is.  With that said, I think not only the process of getting "there" with someone, but finally being "there" is well worth our time and commitment.  We need depth to our relationships.  We all want depth in our relationships.   The problem seems, at least partly, we don't want to make that commitment.  Isn't it ironic that commitment is not just a scary word in the secular world, but also within the church.  How can we change this?        
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Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your should and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall team them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down. and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them down on the doorposts of your house and your gates.   

 I think we would all agree that we as parents are called to train our children and the next generation to then pass that on to their children and so on and so on.  I believe if we asked, in a survey: As a disciple of Jesus Christ, do you think it is your responsibility to train your children in Godliness?  I think the overwhelming response would be YES!  Absolutely.  The more difficult question would be: How?  

How do you train your child in godliness.  What does that practically look in your day to day life.  My wife and I sat up the other night for quite sometime thinking and talking through this vital issue.  How do we, now with two girls, train our children to grow up to seek the face of God.  How do we train them to be passionate about the gospel, serving others, the church etc.

 I would love to hear responses from those who are in the midst of raising their children, already have raised children, or are looking forward to one day having their own.  

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I graduated from Kent State University almost 4 years ago.  For all you who are still in college, I definitely feel for you in regards to your late night times of study and endless hours of home work, on top of dealing with many classes that you just don’t understand how you will ever use this 10 years from now.  Though these things are frustrating at times, there were many things in college that I did take away, that I am very thankful for and still truly enjoy today...maybe a bit too much.

 

For one I began drinking the greatest drink ever made by mankind, Starbucks.  Yes the later the nights became, the more I thought about taking up coffee and I believe it was my sophomore year that I decided it was time to become an addict.  I can proudly say that this addiction is still with me today and Starbucks is always at the top of my "things to do" list as I sit here enjoying one now.

 

Next, Apple.  Yes I went to college and fell into envying all those with the beautiful little apples on their computers, watching them work endlessly with various tasks, as I continued to have to hit the restart button on my Dell.  While in college, I never had the enjoyment of working on one myself, but did have many minutes watching others as I sat waiting for my Dell to restart.  

 

Lastly, one I still do today is writing.  Yes writing.  Now I’m not saying that this is something I am good at or do I excel, as many are probably seeing all the writing mistakes I have made throughout this, but I do enjoy. The idea of writing is very simple and archaic to many, but for me this still continues today. 

 

So I'm by no means a smart guy.  In high school I managed to go to class everyday and get by in order to graduate somewhere in the middle of my class of over 300.  While in high school, I hated writing.  I knew for the most part I could get by without it, but once I entered college something changed.  I think the change was mainly due to not really knowing how to study.  I tried the note card thing and had little to no success with it, except in my Astronomy class.  Why Astronomy you may ask?  My professor allowed each of us to bring in one 4*6 note card for our tests.  That may sound like no big deal, but when Mr. Richards gave us the test a week ahead of time, it was no problem to go and copy it, shrink it down to a 4*6 note card and then use our magnifying glasses.  No this was not cheating. Mr. Richards actually encouraged us to do this.  Needless to say, I received an A in the class right alongside everyone else.  

 

Getting back to why the enjoyment of writing began in college and still holds strong today.  I came to an understanding that the only way for me to do well, outside of attending every class, was to write my notes time after time, after time, after time.  What did this do for me?  In my head I could visualize or picture my writing on the page of my notes, to then answer the questions on the test weather that was essay, short answer, multiple choice or true/false.  Yes this took time and effort, but this was the way I was able to succeed.  That discipline of writing then turned into journaling and has carried to today and is where I get the title "Journables?"

 

Since coming to Faith in Christ alone, I have somewhat struggled with my ability to visualize scripture.  What I mean by that is, is having the ability to know exactly where in the word of God something is, outside of simply memorizing it which is also an important practice and vital to being filled with the Word so we can discern in order to live holy lives.  I went back to what I knew and learned in college.  Writing the scriptures time and again.  This is why I am ecstatic about Journables

 

"In Deuteronomy 17, Moses is leaving final instructions concerning the future of Israel. As a prophet of God, Moses foretells of when Israel will place a king over the nation (v. 14). In verse 18, the king is commanded to not simply acquire a copy of the law (the entire book of Deuteronomy) from the “scroll publishing house,” but to hand write his own copy of the law.  Thirty-four hundred years later, educators are “discovering” that students that physically write out their notes by hand have a much greater retention rate than simply hearing or visually reading the information. Apparently, God knew this to be true of the kings of Israel also. From such understanding came the conception of this series of books."

 

This is a simple yet concise idea of how to journal through the bible.  I think many struggle with just their daily time and being fed by God's words and this gives us structure through daily writing, while also giving the ability to be accountable to others as they can see our time spent and our thoughts on whatever passage we are working through.  This is by no means a tool for depth study, but daily accountability. This is just a thought and something to consider for your daily walk.      

 

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rethink by Steve Wright

 Chapter 3

Remodel: a Biblical Framework for Student Ministry

We have been working our way through this as a a youth staff at our monthly meetings and would like you as parents and students to follow along with us.  

 

I.  Intro

a. Is the parents or churches' job to disciple teens?

b. How can the church partner with parents?

      i. First book of the Bible God began first institution for discipleship: family

      ii. New Testament we see a second institution for discipleship: the Church

c. Our ministries must co-champion the family and the church. 

d. For to long what has been missing is a co-championing mentality that places equal importance on family and church.

      i. Paragraph 74-75: "The idea of Co-Champions, even in discipling teenagers, is to fuzzy and not flashy enough to sell out a student ministry conference.  For too long what has been missing is a co-championing mentality that places equal importance on family and church.  Parents have, in most contexts, handed over their biblically assigned task as primary disciplers to a church pastor who has been taught to accept it.  Some people, in other contexts have made a case to abolish student ministry, remove teens from student activities, and try to disciple their kids while excluding the church.  Neither is biblical.  Neither is ideal.  The two institutions must step closer to one another to be based on a biblical model.   Teens need family and church working hand in hand surrounding them with truth and godly models to follow."   

II.  Championing the Family

a. "As you read through God's word who do you find God gave the primary role of a child's spiritual formation to?"

      i. Parents- Dt. 6 and 11

b.  George Barna says, "The responsibility for raising spiritual champions, according to the bible, belongs to parents.  This is not a job for specialists, but for parents." (81)

      i. "Parents carry more weight-for good or bad- than they give themselves credit for.  How a child thinks and acts is still molded by his or her home life, which means the crumbling foundations of the faith among this generation is as much a parental problem as a church problem, if not more so.  If we are going to reclaim the next generation, the home and the church must join forces together like never before."  (86)

III.  Championing the Church

a.  Should we then shut down student ministry?

       i. Two polarized views

            1.  Church only and ignore the family

            2.  Exclusive focus on the family

       ii.  Focusing on the family is becoming ever so popular in some circles teaching to do away with age-graded ministry:

             1.  Voddie Baucham says, "Let me be clear...there is no such thing as Biblical youth ministry."

             2.  Vision Forum Ministries argues, "The only two biblical ways to disciple children are teaching by parents and preaching."

                        a.  Their Solution: Stop  all age segregate ministries and keep  families together at all times.

         iii.   Steve Wright Questions that Logic:

             1.  Luke 2:46- example of Christ sitting in the midst of rabbis or teachers, listening to them and talking to them. 

             2.  Galatians 3:24 alludes to the Hebrew idea of a tutor, instructor, or school master (related to the word "paideia" which cannot mean to preach and never refers to parent.)  Rabbis would teach in the synagogues in Talmud and Mishnah schooling, which were teaching different aged children. 

                        a.  "The point I want to make is that more than parental teaching and preaching was involved in the process...Sure it was called Mishnah then, (which was age-graded) and we call it Sunday School or teen bible study today.  There is biblical precedent for age graded ministries and for parents allowing non-family members to teach their children. 

              3.  Hyperfamilisim- This is what some critics are calling this family-only thinking approach, because they believe the church should spend all its time enriching family life and no time meeting other needs or providing other ministries. 

          iv.  Other end of the spectrum- Student ministry better off with no parental involvement. 

               1.  Lets be cautious of those who say to champion one institution at the demise of the other.  Getting rid of either the family or the church would be unbiblical. 

                         a.  Acts 2.

IV.  What's the Purpose: (Pg. 94)

            i.  The church accomplishes things the family does not and visa versa...we need both.

                1.  Extremists who want to eliminate student ministry have not seen how it can work when it is a partnership, rather than a competition with the family. 

                2.  "When students see worship at home, at church, on the road when we lie down, when we get up (Dt. 6), with mom, with dad, with other adults, with other students etc. they fully understand exaltation."

                        a.  Purpose: Edification- Heb. 10:25, Eph. 4:11-13

             i.  Encouraging, instructing, caring, teaching, equipping

             ii.  Our job is to equip all of God's people with the tools they need to impact their families, their community, and the world for Christ.  Families cannot do that themselves; they need other Christians in the church to lock arms with them and provide all they need to make a difference. 

                1.  Page 98: why the church and student ministries are needed. 

V.  Co-Championing the Family and the Church

a. We must find a middle ground between the extremes and learn how to co-champion the family in the ministries, so each institution can function as God intended. 

b. Church ministries must shift their framework to give families the tools to succeed in a society that wears down and breaks apart this institution. 

              i.     A disconnect has formed over the past 50 years between the two institutions that were designed to work together.   

                 1. "The Christian church and the Christian home as an institution are closely bound together.  They are like Siamese twins: if you cut them apart you may sever an artery of life and cause one or both to die.  The church cannot function, as she should in a disordered world unless she employs the home as her main reliance in Christian nurture.  I feel certain that the family cannot be a Christian family or happy family unless it stays in the circulation of those spiritual influences of which the church is the great custodian."

 

 

 

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Due to Summer Camp and a trip to Mexico, I have not been able to blog for quite sometime.  What a blessing it has been over the past couple weeks as reformingyouth was able to hear the word of God about the myth of Adolescence taught by Sean Higgins and then followed by a week of service in Ensenada, Mexico.  While flying to and from Mexico I had the opportunity to read a book titled Serious times by James Emery White.  In the book he argues that just as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson lived during very serious times and turned the course of history, we also live during serious times. 

Within this book he challenges the reader about the most serious times for the church, is now.  I was amazed at the chapter titled Devloping Your Minds, as White went through astonishing statistics about how we are becoming a mindless culture.  He communicated 42% of American adults cannot locate Japan on a world map, 15% cannot locate the Unite States, 50% of American Students were unaware of the Cold War and 60% of American students had no idea how America came into existence.  Along with those, even more astonishing were that 60% of the adult population of the U.S. has never read a book of any kind and only 6% reads as much as one book per year.  

Romans 12:1 says, "do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  We wonder why our children and adults within the church are heading down a path of continually being conformed to the world and being less and less conformed to the church.  We wonder why generation after generation are not able to defend what they believe and why they believe it.  We wonder why being open to everything and standing for nothing, is now considered the new intelligence.  We are living in an age of mindlessness where everyone based on their own opinion, without any sufficient biblical data, simply makes their own God as they fulfill their own pleasures and conform to the image of the world, rather than the image of God.  

 

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Rethink Chapter 2
Shifting the Values of Student Ministry
Part I

This is chapter two of the book ReThink by SteveWright who I had the privilege of listening to over this past weekend at a conference in Raleigh North Carolina.  

4 areas to look at:
1.    Separation from parents or partnership with parents?
2.    Student Ministry or Student Development?


1.    Separation from parents or partnership with parents? (p. 46)

a.    Here are quotes Steve Wright has heard over the 20 plus years of student ministry from other student pastors pertaining to partnerships with parents. 
i.    “Student ministry wouldn’t be nearly as difficult if it didn’t involve dealing with parents.”
ii.    “I don’t know if my parents are on the same page with me and my ministry.”
iii.    “I don’t think to many parents desire to disciple their children.”
iv.    “Our parents see spiritual formation as primarily my job.”
b.    We live in a society where things have become extremely specialized.  If you want to pay someone to do it for you name it and it will be done.
i.    “Some parents and churches unfortunately view student ministry in the same way: as a spiritual drop off service best left to the professionals.  Those parents think they are only responsible to take their child to church- put him or her in a spiritual environment and out comes a morally sound young adult…. What’s missing from the scenario?” (47)
1.    Is this our view based on our actions?
ii.    Churches must also take some of the blame.  Student pastors and churches have accepted responsibility for teen’s spirituality and have not equipped parents to take their responsibility seriously as the primary spiritual disciplers. 
a.    How can we do better?  What are some suggestions?
2.    “Traditional student ministry has come to value freedom from parents and neglect the importance of partnership with them.  The problem is two fold: 1) It isn’t biblical. 2) It doesn’t work.  The research is now pointing this fact out to us.” (48)
c.    Research done by Bruce Hunsberger in his book “Amazin Apostates” about children when they reach college and leave the faith.  Here are the conclusions they found. (p. 48)
i.    “Parents play an extremely important role in developing religious attitudes (good or bad) and practices of their offspring.  Parents are the most important influence in this regard.”
1.    What type of religious attitude are you instilling in your child?  Do they see your love for Christ not when gathering with the church body but also in the home?
ii.    “We acquire religion from our parents almost as certainly as we inherit the color of our eyes.”
1.    Would you want your child’s walk with God to look like yours?
iii.    “If today’s young people seem less religious than their parents, it may be traced to their parents’ neglecting to pass on the grandparents training.”
d.    The current student ministry model values freedom from parents due to its convenience. (p. 49)
i.    “Parents are often seen as a hindrance to ministry, as a source of endless opinion and criticism, and in extreme cases as a necessary evil.”
1.    We must strategically create a partnership that goes beyond a spiritual drop-off service.
e.    Current Student Ministry Model: (p. 50)
i.    “Spiritual formation becomes viewed as only something that happens at church by the students and their parents.  The obvious problem is that most teens are only at church a few hours a week compared to the dozens of hours they spend at home.”
1.    About 4 hours compared to the 166 other hours in the week. 
ii.    “Because parents aren’t engaged it seems the only time parents come to staff is when something has gone wrong or if they have a complaint.”
1.    Is this Faith Bible Church?
f.    Student ministry from a biblical framework views parents as an indispensable ministry partners. (p. 52) 
i.    “We must begin to champion the God-given role of parents and revalue our student ministry so that student pastors, volunteers and parents see each other as essential ministry partners in ministry.”
2.    Student Ministry or Student Development? (p. 52)
a.    Busy, busy, busy.  “Guys are busier than ever trying to keep the student ministry machine going, while they are losing those they were intended to care for.  It’s as if they spend all their time running from event to event and activity to activity knowing the busyness is preventing them from focusing on what will last.” (p. 53)
b.    The Barna Research Group found that the most common reason students gave for attending church was to “better understand what they believe.” 
i.    Is the foundation of what they believe forming at home and can they defend what they believe?
c.    Paul’s purpose of developing Timothy was not so he would be good at games and pleasure, but better able to defend the faith. (p. 54)
i.    Are we giving students what they can easily get from the world?  We will never outperform the pleasures of the world. 
1.    “We have to spend more time developing students and those who greatly influence them and less time on the machine that demands more and more…”
d.    “Has today’s model prepared students to answer this basic question and foundational question: Why do you believe Jesus is the Messiah?” (p.57-58)
i.    How would your child respond?

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Heb. 13:8 aJesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 

 

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The last two months have been a whirlwind in some respects and each and every moment I just want to freeze and cherish.  Being a father has been a blessing, privaledge and honor and Sheryl and I give all the praise and honor and glory to the Father for allowing us to be parents.  

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I feel like I haven't been in the world of blogging for quite sometime.  Well that is really the truth, as it has not been for over a week since I posted a short quote from the book titled, Wordliness by CJ Mahaney.  Since I posted that, I must say that the scariest thing in my life ever occured last Wednesday. 

As many of you know, my wife and I had a baby girl, Summer, 10 weeks ago today.   Last Wednesday I had just given Sheryl a kiss goodbye and she left to go to Kent to work for a short couple of hours and I was getting ready to take Summer to my in-laws.  I was walking out the door, with Summer in her car seat and covered in her Buldle Me.  A Bundle Me is one of those baby covers to keep the baby warm when it is cold outside, for those of us who live in Ohio.  I swung open my side door and to my surprise the door immediately swung back in my face.  During this time I had a cup of coffee in my hands.  Needless to say, the door hit the cup of coffee which then dumped into her car seat.  I immediately threw down my bag of books and went into panic mode as I ripped her out of her car seat, laid her on her back on the kitchen counter and quickly took her clothes off of her.  Instead of calling 911 I grabbed her, placed her on my lap and drove to the fire station, that was about a mile down the road.  

As I arrived, I was speechless with tears in my eyes wondering what damage this cup of coffee could have done to the new bundle of joy the Lord had just brought into my life just a short time ago.  The paramedics took her from me and immediatly begun to wrap gauze around her as she cried and cried. 

When the situation began to calm while driving to the hopital, the paramedic who I played higshcool football with, began to tell me I'm guessing for some sort of information for encouragment, that the best thing that I could have ever done was immediately get her clothes off of her.  I'm thankful the Lord gave me those immediate instincts to react fast.  I'm also thankful that Summer is doing great at home and her wounds have healed rather quickly.  But as I continue to think back over this experience, there is much to be learned from it, from a spiritual perspective.  

The paramedic told me the best thing I could have done was rip her clothes off of her as soon as possible.  Why?  Because the longer the coffee sat on her skin, the deeper the burn would have engraved and the more likely the coffee would have left a scar.  Is this not the same with the sin in our lives.  The sin in our lives as we continually let it hang around and be played with the more and more it will penetrate and ultimately leave long term scars.  The more we allow sin to prolong, the harder it is to get rid of.  Just like with the coffee; if it would have continued to penetrate, sure it could have been covered up with make-up, but the wounds would still be there.  

Isnt it easy for us to mask our own sin.  We cover it up with makeup like nothings wrong, as it continually eats away at our lives.  It makes me think of the song that has a line in it that says, "are we happy plastic people."  In other words, do we come to church with the nice outfits, the smiles on our faces and all the right things to say, but when we begin to really dig into one anothers lives we then see that we have been covering things up with makeup and the coffee or sin has penetrated much deeper than percieved,  and many times not seen at all.

With the same experience we can think about parents and their children.  Is it a greater tragedy that your child is wounded physically or that they are wounded spiritually?  Do we worry more about them learning the word of God to fight off the sin and philosophies of the world or do we worry more about them being accepted and looking great on the outside, getting straight A's, being popular, but lost and hopeless with no true understanding of who God really is?  What is most important; our physical state or our spiritual state.  I'm guessing by what our priorities are, we can clearly all answer this most important question.   

Ephesians 4:22-27

Eph. 4:22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, Eph. 4:23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, Eph. 4:24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Eph. 4:25 ¶ Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. Eph. 4:26 BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, Eph. 4:27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.
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Quote by CJ Mahaney in his book Worldiness: Resisting the Seduction of the Fallen World He says,
 
"What if we began to test all our media consumption from the nightly news to our entertainment programs to our video rentals?  And furthermore, what if the standard was looking for what might be beneficial or profitable (what pleases God) instead of what might be permissible?"
 
 
 
 
 
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Over the past couple of months I have been really thinking and praying about the direction of the Youth Ministry at Faith Bible Church.  I have done some rather extensive reading on the continuing saga of youth leaving the church immediately after Highschool and either hopping from church to church or simply not returning at all.  Obviously in the position of working with youth, this subject is of much interest to the youth staff and myself, here at Faith Bible Church.   Because of this, we as a staff are beginning to go chapter by chapter through a book called ReThink by Steve Wright.  The goal of the book is to challenge us in understanding youth ministry and how it fits into the overall context and flow of the church.  Now as with all books, we must be discerning, as is the same with this book.  My goal is to every now and again post chapter by chapter and the highlights within.  I would love to hear some of your responses to the issues that he raises.  


                                                        Rethink Chapter 1

I.    Introduction: Question raised
             a.    How does the bible teach the family and the church are suppose   to truly partner together?  Is it time to admit the current student ministry model isn't aligned with biblical framework?

II.    Chapter 1 ReSearch
        a.    John 15:16: The goal is to produce fruit that will last.
        i.    Colossians 1:28: "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ."

III.    Gauges that allow us to test the current model:
      
  a.    Student Retention Rates
         i.    "We are in the business of reaching the students for the gospel and discipling them into fully committed followers of Christ.  The goal is the equip students to walk with Christ for a lifetime." (18)
               1.    Recent Time Magazine article points out 61% of the adults polled who are now in their twenties said they had participated in church activities as teens but no longer do.
               2.    Josh McDowell states, "Over 69% of youth are leaving traditional church after Highschool."

               3.    Depending on whose numbers you use 58-84% of graduating youth from church youth groups are not returning.
               4.    David Wheaton Suggest, "as many as 50% of Christian students have lost their faith after 4 years of college."  
               5.    Gearge Barna states, "Only 33% of churched youth polled say that church will play a part in their lives when they leave home."     
                              a.    67% of church youth say church will play no significant roll in their life after Highschool.
               6.    70% of seniors in Highschool who claimed faith stop attending church during the college years.  
               7.    Ron Luce in Battle Cry for a Generation estimates 88% of kids raised in Christian homes do not continue to follow the Lord after they graduate Highschool.   
                              a.    Steve Wright would state the outcome of the investment in Highschool students begins much sooner than this.  
        


  b.    Student Literacy
            i.    "Research suggests that 85 percent of youth from Christian homes who attend public schools do not embrace a biblical worldview.  While students from Christian schools scored slightly higher that their public school counterparts, only 6% of students embraced the biblical theism worldview."
            ii.    Barna Research Group provides staggering statistics on the overall teens beliefs today
                  1.    63% don't believe Jesus is the Sons of the one true God.  
                  2.    58% believe all faiths teach equally valid truths.
                  3.    51% don't believe Jesus rose from the dead.  
                  4.    65% don't believe Satan is real.
                  5.    68% don't believe the Holy Sprit is real.
           iii.    Newsweek asked 1004 Americans: "Can a god person who doesn't share your religious belief attiain salvation or go to heaven?"  
                     1.    68% of evangelical Protestants said yes.


IV.    What these gauges mean?
            i.    The American Institute for Church Growth found that, "ministry to youth was the second most important reason people give for joining a congregation in their study."  (39)
           ii.    "Believing that a message wrapped up in pop-culture packaging was the way to attract teens to their flocks, pastors watered down the religious content and boosted the entertainment.     

V.    Questions:    
          a.    Do you know where your student is? How would he respond to these questions?

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7 powerful Truths from Shepherds Conference 2009

1.   God, the Creator, Gets it 

a.     He is sovereign over every possible object, material, dust particle on earth including being sovereign over His written word.  Because of this you either believe the scriptures or you don’t including, the Genesis 1 account and if you deny the literal Genesis 1 account you diminish praise to the Creator of it. 

                                              i.     “You don’t need science to understand creation, because there is no scientific explanation for it.” -John Macarthur-

2.   Building a church on anything outside the foundation of Jesus Christ is not a Church. 

a.    If programs are precedent it is not a church.

b.   If Christ is not central it is not a church.

                                              i.     The only mark of a true church, is following and obeying His Word.” –Martin Luther-

3.   Everything has and will continue to change around us, but nothing has changed in us.”  -John Macarthur-

a.    This quote was in reference to the foundation that was built over the 40 years of ministry at Grace Community Church.

                                              i.     A true church must have absolute authority of the scriptures with doctrinal clarity and the ultimate pursuit is to be presented to God as Holy and blameless.

4.   “Christ must be the obsessive, compulsive order in my life.” –Rick Holland-

a.    Colossians 1:18

5.   We are living in an age with question marks where there should be explanation points and commas where there should be periods.” –Al Mohler-

a.    We must preach, teach and live the truth according to the God of the scriptures.

6.   Is what I am saying, thinking and doing lined up with the God of the scriptures in the pursuit of personal holiness and the Holiness of the people God that He has entrusted me with?

a.    Would the apostle Paul and ultimately Christ, approve of what I say when I teach?

7.   We must fight for the exclusivity of the Gospel

a.    If we desert the Gospel we desert God the creator of it.  Romans 1:1. 

1.   “If Jesus was not the only way to heaven then he is none of the ways to heaven, because then Jesus would be a liar and why would we want a liar to be our Savior!” –Steve Lawson-

8

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Day two is officially completed here at the Shepherds Conference.  I will say that I am utterly exhausted at this point and this post will be extremely shortened compared with the Day 1 Recap listed below.   Day 2 in regards to the weather was much improved compared to day 1.  It was about 67 and sunny at noon and not a cloud in the sky.  We tried arriving a bit early to try and meander around the book store but to my surprise the bookstore was extremely full once again.  Needless to say another day went by without using my $50 gift card they gave me, but instead we received a bag of 20 books from the selection the conference chose in advance for all of us.  What a blessing this was.  So exciting to recieve such a wealth of material to begin to dive into and be able to share with the students.  With that said the two main sessions were great with Rick Holland in the morning and Al Mohler in the evening.  

Session 1

 In a quick overview of the message Rick Holland clearly proclaimed from I Corinthians 11  for the leaders in the church of Corinth to stay true to Christ by having the upmost concern for the people of the flock of God.  The people that the Lord has placed within the ministry you may lead you need to protect that flock.  You need to be aware that false teachers will come in among you ad you need to fight with the truth of Jesus Christ.  With these false teachers its not as if these men come right out and say, "Hey I actually work for the devil and I am here to deceive you."  Instead what happens they sprinkle falsehood here and their and slowly begin to decieve.  He used the account fo Genesis three.  

"In Gen. 3 we have to catch the full impact of the story. Ever wonder where Adam was during the story? Right beside Eve. Eve was deceived and Adam chose willfully. Here are some distinguishing characteristics of Satan. He disguises himself. He came as a normal part of God’s creation. Satan does not intend to be fearful. He doesn’t want you to be afraid of him. He wants to be embraced and loved by someone inside the perceived boundaries of Christianity. Hollywood has completely given us the wrong picture. Satan also deceives. He always tells half truths. Full lies are too recognizable. Satan also distracts. He puts our attention on everything except Jesus. He uses God’s Word in a distorted, out of context way. We should never say, “ I know the Bible says that, but...” or “ I know the Bible says that, and...”. Satan’s greatest ambition is to prevent Jesus from having supremacy in the human heart. He does this by dividing the Trinity. The OT God is Jesus. We cannot think of a mean God in the OT and a loving God in the NT. Jesus is God and if it’s not then according to 1 Cor. 15 we are all damned."

In all Rick was calling leaders, teachers, pastors within the church to keep Christ and His Word not our Word at the Center of his church.  We as leaders should not want a following, but should want followers of Christ.  

Session 2  

Session 2 was with Al Mohler and was heavily anticipated and I would say it lived up to the expectations.  Mohler challenged all simply that the meaning of the text is the meaning of the text.  Our generation have turned period and explanation points into commas and question marks.  We need to read the text and explain the text.  If men are in their study and they do not have a full enough grasp and understanding of the text then they need to stay until they do.  The goal is to not show up, give eight different sides to the text and then have God's people walking away wondering what God said.  Read the text and explain the text.  Its not a conversation, its a declaration.  I believed it to be a great message and may dig deeper into the message proclaimed tonight out of Matthew 7:28-29 right after the sermon on the mount, at a later time.  

Remember that you can see live streaming video at shepherdsfellowship.org

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Let the anticipation be done with. Shepherds Conference 2009 is finally here.  The last three long weeks of anticipation is over and I, along with 9 others guys from the church, were ready for the conference to begin.  I was not really sure what to expect with this being my very first Shepherds Conference, because every time I would ask anyone the response would usually be of this sort: “Oh you have to be there to believe how awesome it is.”  Well I am here, day one is over and it is awesome. 

 

The day began somewhat somber as we drove in the pouring down rain in bumper to bumper traffic to finally arrive and then walk a mile in the pouring down rain to registration where I, along with Greg Roberts, were not registered for some reason.  Although this process was somewhat aggravating, I was pleasantly surprised when they handed me a myriad of paperwork along with a Shepherds Conference 2009 wallet that had a $50 gift card inside to use during the week at the campus bookstore. I could not wait to use this, with being a book nerd, but I needed to get into the first session and allow the week to begin. 

 

We opened up, what they call General Session #1 with singing a couple of hymns.  The proceeding sentence does no justice to what actually took place.  For me it was like being at the Super Bowl with 65,000 screaming fans ready for kickoff.  It was a little over 3,000 men singing at the top of their lungs lifting praises to the Lord.  I felt as if I was screaming, yet not hearing my own voice.  It was truly unexplainable.

 

Once the music was over, John MacArthur walked up to the pulpit and immediately asked us to open our bibles to Genesis 1 and read 1:1-2:3.  With it being virtually impossible to give a detailed account of the sermon, it was titled How self-respecting evagelicals should affirm a literal six-day creation.  Below are some highlighted comments from the sermon.

If God is intelligent enough to create the universe, He is certainly capable of doing the comparatively simple task of revealing the truth about how He created the universe in a way that is straightforward and understandable.”

 

“There is no such thing as a science of creation. Why?  Because there is no scientific way to explain creation. It was not a natural event or a series of natural events. It was a brief series of monumental supernatural events that cannot be explained by science. All true science is based on observation and no one observed creation. All true science necessitates verification by repetition and creation cannot be repeated, and thus it cannot be verified. Creation had no observers (except God) and cannot be repeated.”

 

“Did God use evolution? The question is irrelevant and intrusive. But the answer is no. He couldn’t have used evolution because evolution requires death and the Bible reveals that there was no death before the Fall. God does not equivocate with Himself, He determined to create miraculously which is the only way that it could have happened because it is the way it did happen. And He did it all in six days. This is either true, or it’s not.  If it is true, then Scripture is true. If it is not, then Scripture become suspect from the opening chapters. So from the very outset of the Bible, those who claim to believe the Bible face a formidable test.

 

Job 38–40 – “Who are we to question God about creation, when He Himself has told us what He has done?”

 

I walked away from General Session #1 excited for the week ahead.  Session #2 was immediately after lunch and it was again an exhilarating time of worship to the Savior.  Tom Pennington, a pastor out of Dallas Texas, preached out of I Corinthians chapter 3 starting in verse 9.  This was actually my favorite message of the day as its power was in Pennington and ultimately the Word stressing the continual commitment to the gospel.  The continual commitment to doing God’s works God’s way.  He made the statement that we should not walk away from the pulpit or from teaching wondering weather or not people liked what I said, thought I was cool etc, but instead walking away asking the question: are the people walking away in awe of God?  I walked away from the session asking: 

- Why do I do what I do?                                                          

- Is the word central in the youth ministry or is it programs? 

- Do I spend more time in preparation for programs or preparation for    teaching?

 

General session #3 was done by John Macarthur and he essentially gave an overview of what drives his ministry and what he had stood firm upon for the 40 years he has been at Grace Community Church.  Below are the 10 things he listed as essential I the local church:

-      The absolute authority of Scripture.

-      The church is primarily an assembly of worshipers.

-      Doctrinal Clarity

-      Spiritual Discernment

-       Pursue Holiness

-      The need to develop godly leaders.

-      We need to be devoted to discipleship

-      Teach them the unity which is produced by love and affection

-      The church needs to be marked by faithful prayer

-      The church should be marked by evangelism

 

What a first day this was for me at the Shepherds Conference 2009.  It ended with In and Out Burger right across the street from the hotel room.   I am exhausted and excited for day two.  I would encourage any of you if you have the opportunity to go to Shepherdsfellowship.org and watch the sessions online live.  

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 Over the past couple of weeks, dating back to about the winter retreat, it seems as if everyone in the youth group here at Faith Bible Church has been sick.  One of us had pneumonia, another strep and many others just simply could not break their never ending colds.  I continued to wonder when my turn was coming.  As many of you know my father in law, known as  HERB MAN, continued to feed me full of Echinacea Goldenseal hoping to fight the fight.  Although I believe the herbs helped, I definately have come down with some sort of sinus infection.  You know the runny nose, yellow and green snot and all the other fun things that come with being sick.  So I was sitting here this morning, playing the oh poor is me card, feeling like I was going to die when I began to think of Sean HIggins and all of his interesting medical ailments.  In turn I jumped over to his blog to see what he was up to. 

Upon entering http://www.tohuvabohu.org/ I glanced over and noticed a new piece on the right column.  As I began to read I thanked the Lord that the way I acted just moments before, was not published to the world and especially to the family of the man who wrote the article.  Needless to say the blog post I was reading was about a young man, 26 year old Andrew Mark with a wife and two kids, who died due to a year long bout with cancer.  The Lord took him without ever curing the sickness of cancer while here on earth.  I then was taken to a letter he wrote to his family and church which ended with "Rejoice because my greatest sickness was cured in 2001 at the age of 20 when I believed that Jesus could forgive such great sins as mine."  As I sat there stunned, feeling how worthless my small complaints were, I really was speechless.  The Lord truly has perfect timing and it was clearly experienced in this moment.  Praise be to God for reaching down and curing Andrew Mark in 2001 and thank him for curing my only sickness that mattered in 2002.

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Well I must begin by apologizing that I have not recapped this weekend up up to this point.  I was caught up in a new study which started last week through the book of Joshua and just never sat down until now.  The winter retreat definately began and ended very interestingly.  

The great Aaron Mizener, communicated to me that he had bought a a truck awhile back for purposes such as retreats and he would be willing to drive to haul the trailer we bought in December.  I had noticed when hooking the trailer that his bumper seemed to be a bit flimsy and actually was made out of possibly plastic.  Don't quote me on the material, but I was somewhat concerned that things may turn out bad when hauling an 1800lb trailer not including the luggage and sound equipment we put into it.  I must say that Aaron gave me his word it would make it down and back, and it did.  With that said, we came to find out that his truck is made to haul about 1/4th of what the trailer alone weighs.  To make a long story short, Aaron and the rest of us arrived home safely with our luggage, but will be looking into another vehicle for summer camp.

In regards to teaching, Greg Roberts taught over The Christian Callings as noted in the previous entry.  He began in the book of Genesis and communicated from even before the fall that man's main duty is to imitate God.  After reflecting on the weekend and speaking with many of the highschool students, Saturday night's lesson, The Christians Calling and Vocation, seems to have been the most powerful message of the weekend and one the students really seemed to take with them.  Below are the eight statements Greg communicated in this thought provoking and powerful lesson.  

#1 The Creation Mandate Included God's call for Man to Labor.

#2 The Fall of Man into sin impacted the joy and motivation of labor 

#3 As Christians our labor in the Vocations God calls us, Should be done with Joy, to the Glory of God.  

#4 As Christians our labor in the Vocations God calls us, Should be done for the Good of Others

#5 Our Vocations are a calling and are a According to the Abilities, and Interests God has given. 

#6 Our Vocations are often determined by GOd Providential unfolding of Circumstances, and opportunities in our lives.

#7 Every Vocation should be fulfilled with Excellence 

#8 Vocation involves the Here and Now 

If you have any thoughts or reflections from the weekend please respond!  

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About Reforming Youth

Reforming Youth is the Junior High and Senior High Ministry of Faith Bible Church, located in Canton, Ohio. The purpose of this Youth Ministry is to provide a safe place for teenagers to grow in their Christian Faith. We accomplish this through preaching and teaching God's unchanging and perfect Word to young people.

Contact Us

Faith Bible Church
6655 Firestone Rd. NE
Canton, Ohio 44721
Phone: (330) 497-7087

Church Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
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