faith

10 Overlooked Truths About Taking Action

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Action is essential in ministry and life.  Action is essential in success.  Action will sometimes end in failure.

Inaction always ends in failure.

The Art of Manliness outline 10 Truths about Taking Action.  These are not spiritual in nature but applicable in our relationship with Christ.  As Kevin DeYoung puts it in his book, Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc., God has already revealed his plan for Christians’ lives: to love Him and to obey His Word.  Now we just need to TAKE ACTION.

10 Overlooked Truths About Taking Action

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Kyle Eschenroeder.

“This is a holy moment. A sacramental moment. A moment in which a man feels the gods as close as his own breath.

What unknowable mercy has spared us this day? What clemency of the divine has turned the enemy’s spear one handbreadth from our throat and driven it fatally into the breast of the beloved comrade at our side? Why are we still here above the earth, we who are no better, no braver, who reverenced heaven no more than these our brothers whom the gods have dispatched to hell?

In this speech from Steven Pressfield’s gripping, well-researched re-telling of the Battle of Thermopylae (Gates of Fire), the Spartan King Leonidas addresses his troops after a victory. He is reflecting on the fact that when you do battle in chaos, Lady Fortuna and skill have an equal say in the outcome. Pressfield explains this dynamic in his equally worthwhile non-fiction work, The Warrior Ethos:

“In the era before gunpowder, all killing was of necessity done hand to hand. For a Greek or Roman warrior to slay his enemy, he had to get so close that there was an equal chance that the enemy’s sword or spear would kill him. This produced an ideal of manly virtue – andreia, in Greek – that prized valor and honor as highly as victory.

Andreia meant that judgment was based on actions taken — not outcomes. Society understood that the outcome was, at least in part, in the hands of the gods. What was in a man’s control was how he acted.

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Rites of Passage for Your Daughter

self-esteemI feel less qualified than usual in writing this post.  I do not have daughters, nor have ever claimed to understand the opposite gender.  Although I do believe this article is very relevant for parents of teenage daughters.  One of my favorite parts of this series is the emphasis on the power of words.  While I agree that words have an effect on guys, I believe that they have a much more powerful effect on girls.  While there are guys who struggle with self-worth and self-doubt, it seems to plague girls.  Words of worth from parents go a long way, especially from a father to a daughter.

ARTICLES

Words are Powerful

Ideas for Creating Traditions

More ideas for Traditions

Other Rites of Passages

Creative Traditions Build Relationships

Simple Influence

Rites of Passage for Your Daughter

by Pam Farrel, Doreen Hanna

The conversation with the group of young women that day had been one of excitement and laughter as they planned the upcoming special Night of Celebration. Each girl’s family would join in a special rite-of-passage ceremony that would culminate with each princess’s father reading a personalized blessing over his daughter. However, after the meeting, one princess was not as excited as the rest of the girls, so I [Doreen] initiated a conversation with her.

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Darla shrugged her shoulders with frustration as I asked if she would please reconsider asking her father to impart her blessing at the ceremony before she asked her youth pastor. With exasperation she began to blurt out her reasons for not wanting to give her father this privilege: “He spends all his time on that dumb computer! I can tell my parents are not happy. I feel like they might be talking about divorce. I wish he’d spend time with me. I know he used to be a Christian because he used to go to church. I hate being at home. I look for something to do every day just to be away from there.”

It was evident that the power of her parents’ words — talk of divorce, as well as a lack of loving words — had begun to kill hope in Darla’s heart.

My heart grieved for her, knowing also that at just 13 years of age she was already dealing with depression. However, I spoke quickly, reminding her that this might be an opportunity to hear her father publicly say things she never thought he knew or noticed about her. I told her that this would be a day she would remember for the rest of her life and, if possible, it would be best remembered with her father.

Lastly, I asked her if she would allow him this opportunity. She begrudgingly agreed and said she’d let me know of his decision within the next few days. The following day, she called.

“Mrs. Hanna, this is Darla.” (Long pause.) “Well, he said yes.”

Her tone of voice reflected an irritated disappointment that he had agreed to participate. However, she changed the subject and with excitement told me of the dress a girlfriend was going to let her borrow and how she was looking forward to celebrating with some of her friends.

After we hung up, I called and spoke with Darla’s dad, Rick. I explained what he needed to do to prepare to impart her blessing. I sensed sincerity in Rick’s voice and felt assured that God was at work.

The night of the ceremony I happened to be standing at the front of the church when Darla and Rick arrived early. As she stepped out of the car, she looked radiant in her beautiful navy blue formal. She ran to find the other girls who were applying their last touches of mascara, lip gloss or blush. All of them were complimenting and helping each other. In the meantime, Rick had searched and found a parking place, then rushed in asking where he was to sit. I saw that he had a yellow pad of paper in hand. The moment he sat down, it was evident he was still jotting down notes in preparation for Darla’s blessing.

The evening moved along smoothly and I soon found myself introducing Darla and Rick. They stepped forward, taking their respective places at the podium. Then Darla folded her arms across her midriff and looked over the heads of the audience. It was so obvious that she was still not happy to be sharing her special moment with her father.

Rick began speaking his blessing with a tone in his voice that reflected tenderness. As Rick’s endearing words poured out, Darla’s arms soon dropped to her side and she looked directly into her father’s eyes. His words were warm, loving and sincere, bringing life back into Darla’s heart. It was evident he truly loved Darla and recognized the importance of this opportunity with his daughter. Darla’s eyes filled with tears and a smile brightened her countenance. Rick, with great delight in his eyes, crowned her with her tiara. Then Darla hugged him warmly. You could hear the sniffles of joy in the audience!

As this celebration came to a close and we headed to the reception, I overheard someone affirming Rick, complimenting him for the powerful words he had spoken into Darla’s life.

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9 tips for teaching students

9 tips for teaching students

by: Mark Driscoll

1. Start strong

You have to get their attention the moment you step up to teach if you want to keep their attention. Start with high energy, a big question, or a big concept. Don’t ever, ever start with, “Hey, how are you guys doing?” Your lead pastor probably does that, everyone does that, and it’s nearly always the wrong way to start. We don’t ask people how they are—we tell them what God has said, which then changes how they are. Start strong. Nail your first word or line in your prep.

2. Teach one concept

Students are not stupid. They can learn more than is often expected. Don’t dumb it down, just focus it in. Give them one big idea—sin, Scripture, the cross, Jesus’ divinity, the resurrection—something to focus the entire message around.

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Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

Top Ten lists are great because you can read the list and then read only about the one’s that you are interested in.  Here are 10 mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make.  If you’ve made a few or all of them, repent, refocus, and get started.  Remember, you don’t have to be perfect, just intentional.  This list is not ground breaking, but it is a good reminder of what not to do when it comes to teenagers.

Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

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It might be difficult for some parents to read through, but here’s a top ten list that I’ve been wanting to write for a while. Over the next several days I’ll be expanding on each of these in succession, but for now, here is my top ten mistakes Christian parents of teens make:Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

10. Not spending time with your teen.

A lot of parents make the mistake of not spending time with their teens because they assume their teens don’t want to spend time with them! While that’s true in some contexts, teens still want and need “chunks” of one-on-one time with parents. Despite the fact that teens are transitioning into more independence and often carry a “I don’t need/want you around” attitude, they are longing for the securing and grounding that comes from consistent quality time.

Going for walks together, grabbing a coffee in order to “catch up,” going to the movies together, etc., all all simple investments that teens secretly want and look forward to. When you don’t carve out time to spend with your teen, you’re communicating that you’re not interested in them, and they internalize that message, consciously or unconsciously.

9. Letting your teen’s activities take top priority for your family.

The number of parents who wrap their lives/schedules around their teen’s activities is mind-boggling to me. I honestly just don’t get it. I know many parents want to provide their children with experiences and opportunities they never had growing up, but something’s gone wrong with our understanding of family and parenting when our teen’s wants/”needs” are allowed to overwhelm the family’s day-to-day routines.

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3 Ways To Stop Being An Ineffective Youth Leader

Being intentional is a key value in ministry.  A key phrase that always comes to mind is “Not Perfectly, But Intentionally.”  We have to realize as leaders that we are not perfect and are not always doing everything that we should or could to accomplish our mission.  There are things we don’t see or  understand and sometimes we even choose sin over godliness.  Shocking I know.  I’m not advocating that it’s okay, but it’s true.

While we may not be perfect, we can be intentional.  We can intentionally share the Gospel.  We can intentionally build relationships.  We can intentionally serve with excellence.  We can’t guarantee effectiveness, since it is ultimately a work of the Holy Spirit that causes any one to accept Christ, be sanctified, or changed in any way.  We can guarantee a clean heart before God as we intentionally seek to become more like His Son, Jesus Christ.

The 3 ways center around a leaders ability to “BE INTENTIONAL.”

3 Ways to Stop Being an Ineffective Youth Leader

3 Ways to Stop Being an Ineffective Youth Leader

By: Adam Ramsey

Making disciples is harder than you could ever imagine, but simpler than you would ever think. For those involved in student ministry, discipling young people is not really complicated—it’s just costly. You don’t need a doctorate in theology, but you do need to have died to yourself.

What exactly makes someone an effective youth leader?

Here’s an example. Melisa is a youth leader who has been leading a group of junior girls at Mars Hill Bellevue. Each week she opens up her Bible with these ladies, listens to their struggles and questions, and points them to Jesus. She also opens up her life by pursuing their hearts relationally outside of a program or event. And when she was away on a family vacation for a couple of weeks, two of her girls stepped up and led their peers the same way Melisa has been leading them.

Melisa is just one of many examples of a godly and effective youth leader. By the grace of God she is making disciples who make disciples, by sharing the gospel, sharing her life, and empowering young people to do likewise.

Paul reveals some powerful practices in the way he discipled those in the church at Thessalonica. His pen drips with insight and sincerity as he writes, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8).

What follows is the job description of every youth leader at Mars Hill: three simple yet costly characteristics of Paul’s leadership in 1 Thessalonians 2, which we use as a leadership model for anyone serving in student ministry at Mars Hill Church.

1. Be intentional about sharing the gospel

Paul reminded the Thessalonians that the most important gift he shared with them was the gospel: the message about Christ’s finished work on the cross for sinners. An effective youth leader has the gospel on repeat like 90s church kids with a new DC Talk track. When it comes to repeating the best news in the universe, if you feel like a broken record, you’re doing it right.

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How to Thrive in College

My one thought from college: I had so much free time.  I thought I was busy, but looking back I had more free time than have ever had since and will ever have again, hopefully.  College students – use your time wisely.

How to Thrive in College

by Alex Chediak

College should be a temporary season of academic preparation and personal growth to propel a lifetime of effective service to God and neighbor. It should be a launching pad into all that goes with responsible Christian adulthood. Yet for some it’s a time when they abandon the Christian faith, displaying that they never really belonged to Christ (1 John 2:19). For others, their faith remains intact, but they waste their college years with video games, partying, and other frivolities — an expensive vacation funded by Mom, Dad, and (often) debilitating student loans.

Today, seven out of ten high school graduates immediately go on to college, but about 30% will never become sophomores, and almost half will not have graduated even six years later.1 Many who do graduate move right back home with their parents, assuming little responsibility and armed with little ambition for Christ.

 Own Your Faith

I’m convinced that you should not just survive college but thrive at college. Don’t just maintain your faith, but really come to own it — growing thick, strong roots (1 Timothy 4:12). Don’t just perpetually visit churches but find one to join — one that clearly proclaims the gospel, practices vibrant worship, and welcomes you into authentic iron-sharpening-iron community. You need a good church off campus as much as you need strong Christian friendships on campus.

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