Three Ways to Disciple Those Dealing With Drama

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Last Wednesday while pulling lesson plans out of a notebook I asked my English student how her week had been. This is a normal way of starting class because it allows her to practice small talk, and since the answer is always good I wasn’t really paying attention while asking it.

Instead of the normal response though she looked down at the table and shaking her head said “so many problems.”

Suddenly the lesson plan didn’t seem all that important.

My student proceeded to explain some problems she was having with a rebellious teenage daughter which included among other things

  • Skipping school with forged notes and parental excuse forms
  • Telling the school her mother’s phone number had changed (it hadn’t) and then getting a friend to send messages using that number excusing her from class
  • Creating a second Facebook account for herself that her parents didn’t know about
  • Failing classes because they were too “boring”

To be honest I was pretty overwhelmed and didn’t really know how to help (single young men with no children don’t have much rebellious teen experience). Yet the pain in this mothers eyes challenged me to do something about the situation.

As Christians in a broken culture we have the opportunity to interact with people struggling with the drama (crisis situations) of life. And though we may not have all the answers, God calls us to enter into that suffering with them for the sake of the Gospel.

There are a number of ways to minister in the midst of drama, but here are the ways God led me to help my English Student.

  1. Offer Sympathy-The one thing a suffering person needs more than anything else is someone who will simply listen
  2. Offer Personal Assistance-It didn’t matter that this rebellious child would respect me even less than her parents, asking “how can I help?” still had tremendous healing powers
  3. Offer Insight-Share lessons that the Lord has taught you along the way that can help them in their time of great need

Of course in this situation it’s also necessary to pray for the student, preferably right there after getting permission.

People around the world are overwhelmed by the drama of their lives and desperately looking for someone to help. Sadly many are too busy (or burdened by our own drama) to stop and help, so there is a greater need than ever for Believers who would bind up the wounds of those who are hurting instead of crossing to the other side of the road.

Earning the Trust of Teens in Four Not So Easy Steps

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One of my favorite ministries in Australia had to be a Religious Education class teaching fifth and sixth graders in a Public School.

There were numerous challenges to this ministry; The greatest challenge however was earning their trust….

I’m grateful to say by our last class (in the picture above) I had earned their trust and respect, but it was a long hard process. As a ministry to others who work with teenagers some of the most important lessons learned along the way are included in this post.

1. Be Honest: The first time we met, one of the boys asked “have you ever swore in your life?” After trying to change the subject he looked me right in the eyes and said in a very serious tone “answer the question”

Instead of trying to lie about it I confessed to using bad language a few times in my life, but confessing it to the Lord right away. His next question was “why did you do that?” and it led to a conversation about the Gospel

2. Be Answering: Teens have hundreds of questions about God and few people who will actually answer them. The Lord used a simple exercise that asked the students to write down questions they had for God to teach me this.

While most students wrote a few lines one girl started writing furiously and kept going after the others were finished. When she handed me her paper I had to take a picture of it to remind me of the need to answer their deep questions.

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3. Be Effective-I don’t care how crazy a group of kids is, there will always a way to motivate them. Shouldn’t be
surprising that giving a candy bar to the best behaved student allowed me to control eight teenagers (it also worked for eighteen kindergartners by the way.) The important thing is bringing a form of structure or discipline into their lives in a way that works, since many of them don’t have it.

wpid-img_03302-2014-02-24-19-40.jpg4. Be Listening: As important as the lesson is, there were moments in class when the Lord allowed me to learn about, or minister to a students deeper need. This meant having more than one conversation with students who were no longer BFF’s and immersing myself in teen girl drama for the sake of the Gospel, it also meant helping a student who was moving to another Country and would never see her friends again understand God was still Loving.

The road to earning trust is long and hard…that’s why so many people haven’t traveled it. However if your willing to put in the hard work God will give you a powerful influence in their lives.

How to Share the Gospel With Twenty Biblical Events

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Yesterday as part of a blog post on Telling the Gospel as a Story I referred to an evangelistic tool which I have found very useful in sharing Christ with individuals who don’t have a foundation of Biblical Truth.

This curriculum is called The Story of Hope, and published by Good Soil an evangelism and discipleship program of ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelism). What makes this material unique is it’s centered on sharing the Gospel using forty major events of Scripture (twenty in Old and New Testament).

My favorite resource they offer is a set of cards that on the front has a picture of that specific event, and on the back gives information about how it fits into the Gospel Story.

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These same events (and pictures) are also offered in other formats such as a condensed version of the material that shares twenty events, Power Point Slides, or discipleship material for new Believers.

There is a huge need for material like The Story of Hope since in many cases we have to start with page one of the Bible when sharing Christ. Unfortunately we live in a culture were foundational truths are overlooked such as:

  1. God exists, and created everything include man
  2. Mankind lived in perfection and was given the choice between obeying God and rejecting Him
  3. All sin, suffering, and death came as a result of man refusing to obey God
  4. Along with that curse God promised to send a deliverer who would Redeem mankind from their sin
  5. The rest of Scripture is a cycle of man sinning against God, the Lord judging their sin, and then providing a way that would redeem them from that punishment (a picture of Christ)

When you link the Old Testament (particularly the promise of a Redeemer) to Christ’s incarnation and death, it becomes clear the Gospel was part of God’s plan from the very beginning.

There is always going to be a need for new material that can help Believers share the Gospel in a confident way, thankfully ABWE offers tools that help us do that without overlooking foundational truths.

The Gospel as a Story Part One

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One huge challenge to sharing the Gospel in todays culture is people lack a foundation of Biblical Truth. So instead of starting with the Book of Romans (their need of Christ) its necessary to start with page one of the Bible (there is a God).

One of the best ways to do this is telling the Gospel as a story because it allows us to focus on the major themes of Scripture which are

The Holiness of God (marked in Gold)
The Sinfulness of Man (marked in Blue)
And the coming Redeemer Jesus Christ (marked in red)

As a framework I use The Story of Hope evangelism material published by ABWE which uses major events in Scripture to explain the Gospel.

I particularly love the full color cards that they offer covering each event that can easily be used to share Christ, or small booklets that are easier to carry.

In part one of this series I will go from creation, to Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac. I pray it can encourage us all to tell the story of the Gospel beginning in Genesis 1:1.

1. God who existed in the beginning created the Heavens and the Earth

2. God Created Adam and Eve, and after putting them in the Garden of Eden, they are commanded not to eat the fruit from one tree.

3. An Angel of God rebelled against Him and tried to take His place. God responded by throwing him out of Heaven, and since that time Satan has tempted us to rebel.

4. Adam and Eve choose to eat the fruit and take the place of God instead of obeying Him

5. Because Adam and Eve sinned against God they felt shame and separation from Him for the first time

6. God promised a man would come and redeem all of us from our sins by crushing the head of Satan

7. Until the promised Redeemer arrived, Adam and Eve temporarily covered their sins with the blood of animal sacrifices.

8. They are forced to leave the Garden of Eden because of their sin. Since that time our sins have created a wall of separation between us and God

9. Instead of obeying God mankind became worse and worse so He warned them of a coming flood that would kill everyone

10. God called Noah to build an ark that would protect people from the flood, this is a picture of the coming Redeemer

11. God called a man named Abraham to leave his family and travel to a place were the Lord would make him a great nation.

12. God later asked Abraham to sacrifice his firstborn son Isaac, Abraham was about to do this when God provided a Ram to be sacrificed in his place

Come back on Saturday to read The Gospel as A Story Part Two.

A Step Towards Biblical Manhood

sawing-boards-1422708-mAs someone who mentors High School Seniors I can tell you there is more of a need than ever before for Godly men who would choose to become role models. This is why I have made it a focus to look for tools or books that can help lead us back towards a Biblical View of Manhood.

Manhood Restored by Eric Mason is a book that does this better than anything else I’ve ever seen (Kindle Version can be found here).

I fell in love with this book from the first page, but there was one paragraph in particular that the Lord used to deeply impact my life

“Adam chose to set aside his representation of God, responsibility for God, and relationship with God, and these things were lost because of the price of his sin.”Mason, Eric (2013-04-21). Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole (p. 12). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The first chapter entitled “The Life and Death of Manhood” points out the purpose God had for men (to display His character with thier actions, provide for and protect loved ones, and walk closely with Him) and how Adam in one moment chose to give it all away.

Because of his choice (and our own sin) we as a culture have embraced a self-centered view of manhood.

Instead of responsibility, representation, and relationship, things like chauvinism, violence, passivity, insecurity, and addiction would characterize generation after Generation of men in a continually increasing way.” Mason, Eric (2013-04-21). Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole (p. 13). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The idea of rejecting True Manhood is continued Chapter Two were Eric Mason describes how Daddy Deprivation or lack of Godly men has resulted in “Extended Adolescence.” Or adult men who act like children emotionally.

The most convicting part for me is in chapter eight were he challenges men to take up the role of “Spiritual Fathering” those young men who don’t have positive role models.

This involves more than just an hour a week of course, but entering into a true mentoring relationship with teenage boys so that they can see through the power of the Gospel what True Manhood looks like

I’m not saying something like Spiritual Fathering is easy…it takes time, energy, and lots of hard work. However the call for this ministry is stronger than ever before, and for the men who choose to answer it, Manhood Restored is a good place to start.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Sports

People often ask me if there is anything I miss from the US during my time in Australia.  The only time something we really missed was during my first three months in Melbourne before the cable television was hooked up.  You see I’m a sports fanatic so having the sports cable package allowed me to watch all the prime time games (with a fourteen hour time difference), which cured any homesickness.

True watching Monday night football at 10:00 on a Tuesday morning wasn’t the same as seeing it back home with my dad as we lay on separate couches and only talked during commercials,   Editors Note:  phrases such as “look at that hit” or “that wasn’t a penalty!” are permissible,  However it reminded me of home in a time when I didn’t know many people in Melbourne.

Since sports are so important to me I am making sure to record game five of the NBA Finals tomorrow night, but not for the reason you may think.  It’s not just to watch the game, even though they have been awesome.  Not to have some friends over to watch it, because my favorite teams are playing, or to entertain myself since there is nothing else on TV.

I am recording it because Lebron James will most likely win the NBA Title tomorrow night…and I don’t want him too

Now please understand I don’t hate Lebron but have a serious problem with the way he moved from Cleveland to Miami.  It wasn’t the infamous “decision” that angers me where he chose to nationally televise his choice to leave Cleveland without telling them first.  It wasn’t even the press conference introducing him and other players that turned into a boy-band concert complete with music and choreographed dancing.  It was Lebron himself sitting on a stool and counting off on his fingers the five championships he was destined to win.

We enjoy it when our sports stars are confident; you have to be to succeed.  But there is a fine line between being confident and arrogant, and when someone crosses that line it bothers me.

A few weeks ago Doug Hawkins on christandpopculture.com wrote a very interesting article about hating other teams or specific players such as Lebron or Tiger Woods from a Christian perspective.  He points out “Sports hatred is deeply embedded in the American culture-as American as apple pie” and asks the important question, “is it all right for Gospel-bearers to participate in a culture of sports hatred?”  The answer to this is no of course but what I found fascinating is his reasons why sports hatred is such a huge part of our culture.

1.  Hatred is rooted in our sports jargon

2.  We link our own feeling of self-worth to the team’s success

3.  Sports is our cultures religion

4.  Key figures in America encourage sports hatred

5.  Rivalry is based upon hatred and hatred is good for business 

To read an explanation of these reasons and an interesting conversation about it in the comments section go to the sports section of christandpopculture.com

Being a sports fan and Christian doesn’t mean we have to cheer on every team or celebrate when our favorite player loses.  It’s about making sure we don’t become that person who goes too far, takes a loss too seriously, and begins hating a certain team or player.  So play well tomorrow night Lebron and win that championship in Miami (you deserve it) I promise to watch the entire game without throwing something at the TV.

Just don’t expect me to watch the celebration