Thursday, May 25, 2006

In the Home Stretch

It is hard to believe but we are nearing the end of this quarter's Sunday School experiment. I have totally enjoyed the weekly meetings and the challenge of molding and shaping my own worldview! We (Charles and I at least) have added a whole new dimension to our vocabulary!

This however is the last set of discussion questions. That is sad. But all good things must come to an end. Dig in and enjoy!

DQ’s for Chapter 11

  1. What is your current most pressing “What is God will for …?” question? Work this issue through the decision-making chart in chapter 3. Fine tune your answer in light of chapters 4-11!
  2. "There is no one answer for everyone about how we deal with singleness, adoption, models of parenting, educational choices, church selection, use of time and money, and many other issues.” p.200 Has Meadors included something in this list that he shouldn’t have? Has he left anything off? How can he make this statement?
  3. Who are we ultimately responsible to for our decisions? What role, then, do our Christian brothers and sisters have in the decision-making process? How should you then respond to a request for advice in these situations?
  4. How should prayer and reason (ability to think things through) work together? Are they in separate categories?
  5. Meadors destroys the romance in the thought “God has ordained one special person to be my life partner”. Do you agree or disagree with him? Why? (Remember to support your answer Biblically without prooftexting.)
  6. Discuss the good and the bad decisions that seemed to steer your life and personality to the point at which you find yourself today. How does this “life mapping” influence your relationship with God? Do you understand that “[you are] the person that [you are] today because of that journey.” p.212
  7. Discuss several good reasons for leaving a church family to go somewhere else. Where does loyalty fit in your answer? Do you hold this value as tightly as Meadors does? What is the most important value in church selection?
  8. T or F: “The Bible is sufficient for everything we need for life and godliness.” If true, discuss how this will change the way that we engage the “gray” areas. If false, what do we need in addition to the Word to make it through life successfully?
  9. What role does the church play in the decision-making process?
  10. What should you look for in a pastor of your church? How will you know if you have called the right one?

    Charles and I have already discussed continuing our morning visits into the next quarter. Perhaps even adding another younger mind to mold and shape! Look for more posts to come. Thanks for journeying through Meadors' book with us.

    Knowing and doing the will of God,

Prayer Changes Things ... or Does It?

Prayer is a great treat for the believer. It is an opprotunity to talk, converse, listen, communicate with our heavenly Father. It is the highpoint of our fellowship relationship with him through the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. How does it affect our understanding or doing the will of the Father? Dig into these questions for the week from Meadors' book on the subject of finding and doing the will of God in daily decision-making.

DQ’s for Chapter 10
  1. “Skilled and hardworking persons always have more opportunities than they can fulfill.” (p.187) Are “open doors” always indicators of God’s will?
  2. What is the role of prayer in the decision making process? What part do values play in prayer? What is the faith of our prayers in?
  3. Should we expect that God will reveal his will to us because of our prayers?
  4. Is the popular expression “prayer changes things” a truism to live by? If it is true, how will it affect your prayer life? What types of things will we pray for? If it is not true, how can it be rewritten to be true?
  5. Talk your way through 1 Thes. 5:16-18 in light of God’s will.
  6. “Prayer recognizes God’s sovereign will.” How then do we deal with God’s “no” answers to our prayers? How can we get excited about a “no” answer?
  7. If God cannot be manipulated by our prayers, why is it that we must pray? What does prayer reflect about our relationship with God? Discuss several times when God did and when He did not intervene in your life’s events as a result of your prayers. How should you process the days of disappointment with prayer’s power?

How should I pray for you? Drop me a note and keep me updated!

Striving to exercise fervent prayer that is effectual,


What's the point?

Warning! to those who are in youth ministry; your teenagers want to know "what's the point?" We had a lively discussion last night in YG that centered around this question in the debriefing session after a game involving multiple bodies (10) and a 4'x8' entryway carpet.

I spent an hour asking questions and chasing down bold statements of defiance and frustration. I jotted notables on the whiteboard and looked for ways to help the teens discover the answers rather than give them the answers. As a closing exercise, I gave them paper and asked them to evaluate the evening. "What was the point?", etc.

I was blown away by the responses. Most of them didn't get the answer(s). Most of them didn't like being stretched by the conversation and questions. This book has got to be one of the best spent $10 for this group.
(Experiential Youth Ministry Handbook, John Losey)

My initial temptation is to write a 101 things that you should have learned from this "pointless" activity. I have mellowed out some. I believe I will call it 101 things that I learned from this activity. :)

Still loving teens (even the ones that don't get it at first),

Breaking the Addictive Behavior Cycle

As I was dealing with the topic of sin in a youth group meeting a while ago, I said, without thinking, "Let's choose a sin that's easy to agree on -- smoking..." Bob (not his real name) spoke right up and said, "My Dad is a smoker is he a sinner?" Now I was in it up to my neck. :)

I tried a dodge at this point, "Bob, each of us is a sinner".

But my Dad can't stop, it wouldn't be healthy for him to quit. He's tried in the past."

I was sucking in water. I had no dodge, no safe non-answer, and no place to hide. "Bob, we each are addicted to our own sins," I replied calmly. "We need to weigh the costs of quitting sin against the costs of not quitting. The costs of not quitting sin is too high."

Now this is the right answer. I believe that Bob wanted to believe it too. There was no wiggle room with this statement. It was stark. It was definitive. I had forgotten that conversation until today. I read this quote in Every Man's Battle:

"Sexually speaking, you have a low-grade sexual fever. It doesn’t disable you, but you aren’t healthy either. You sort of function normally, but you can’t really push hard. Basically, you just get by. And if this fever doesn’t break, you’ll never fully function as a believer." p.87

and a few pages later, this one:
"Regarding sexual purity, God knows the provision He’s made for us. We aren’t short on power or authority, but what we lack is urgency." p. 91

We can easily replace the sexual language with any other language that describes your addiction to sin. Fill it in with lying or cheating. Fill it in with the word SIN! Then I recalled these great verses from 2Peter 1:3-4:

"His divine power has given us everything that we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that you may particpate in the divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world caused by evil desires."

We can win over sin. It is more unhealthy to stay ensnared in it than to break out of it! We have all of the resources that we need in Christ. We can win over sin! It has no more power over me!

Praising my God of very great and precious promises,

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Reading Report

Just wanted to blog a note and report that I resisted the urge to flop down and pop on the tube last night. I finished reading Dr. Meadors' book, Decision Making God's Way! He did a great job and gave me some very good thought provoking ideas about how I pursue "God's will" for my life. I especially apprecaited his discussion of marriage/mate selection! Not very romantic, but very practical.

I am also reading Every Man's Battle. It is an interesting read. The three co-authors have given me some great things to think about as well. It is a good book for in your face discussion of the issues of sexual purity. Here's just one of the quotes that I think is excellent from the first 50 pages.

"Sexual impurity has become rampant in the church because we’ve ignored the costly work of obedience to God’s standards as individuals, asking too often, ‘How far can I go and still be called a Christian?’" p. 58

So what are you reading? Send me a title, an author, and a quote! Remember to follow MLA footnote format. :)

Leaders are readers,

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Thirteenth Donut

Need a conversational donut to dunk with your coffee at Timmy Ho's this morning? Here's a quote to discuss from Dr. Meadors' book, Decision Making God's Way.

“The problem is that we do not have a means to detect when an internal conviction is from conscience, the Spirit, or our own desires. That is why we need an objective procedure to make decisions that are based on the validation of our understanding of the Bible and the worldview and values set we claim. This is not as comfortable or as safe as having a direct revelatory process, but it is a process that God has designed to develop us as persons created in his image.” p. 184

Dunkin' donuts like these,

Holy Spirit Led Searchers

Jesus' final comments to his discisples in John 14-17 include the description of the other comforter who was coming. This comforter was/is the Holy Spirit. Every believer (not just the original 12) has been given the same Spirit. But how does he direct us? Is there any new disclosure as he moves us along? Meadors' chapter 9 deals with the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer as he/she seeks to know and do the will of God.

Here are the questions for further discussion and study for this week:
  1. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life with regard to “will of God”? Has this always been the modus operandi for the Spirit with believers of all times?
  2. What was the role of the Holy Spirit in the creation of the Scriptures? What does 2 Peter 1:21 say about this role? What does it not say? Why is it important that this primary document be Spiritually crafted?
  3. Does God speak to believers today in the same way that he did to the prophets and the apostles? Discuss John 16:3 in immediate and larger contexts.
  4. In what three areas does the “conviction of the Holy Spirit” work today? Should we expect any convictions outside of these three realms?
  5. What is the common word used to describe the Spirit’s work in the life of a believer in connection with the Word of God? Why does Meadors balk at the use of this word? Is he right? What is actually happening in this Spiritual process? Can you think of a better term?
  6. Define “an anointing of the Holy Spirit” biblically. (ref. 1 John 2:18-27) Discuss the scope (what does this anointing cover) and limitations (what does this anointing not cover) of anointing. How does the Spirit affect epistemology?
  7. Are the Word of God and the Spirit ever in conflict? If so when?
  8. What do the terms “filled” and “led” mean? Are they biblical terms? According to Meadors, how can the Holy Spirit be robbed of the opportunity to convict believers?
  9. Describe the difference between the status and process of sanctification. What part does the Holy Spirit play in each of these areas?
  10. What are the three ingredients to interpret the subjective domain of life? What is the outcome if these three (any of them) are violated?
  11. How do I discover my spiritual gifts? What is the best context for determining giftedness? How is it connected to the will of God? According to Meadors, do we get spiritual giftedness before, during or after salvation?
  12. There are four major lists of spiritual giftedness (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10,12, 28; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Peter 4:7-11). Compare and contrast these lists. Why are these lists different?

Thanks for thinking through this [Charles] Baker's dozen of questions. The final piece (#13) is in the post above! :)

Spirit-led, Spirit-filled, and Spirit-anointed,


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Life-Draining Pursuits

This is the title block for a message that I am teaching to our ministry team. It will probably take two weeks to complete. The four pursuits that drain the life right out of life do the same to ministry. Solomon tried to pursue a negative quartet of things in life and recorded the draining conclusion in Ecclesiastes. Try your hand at guessing the four leaches (pursuits that drain the life out of ministry). This is open book, so go look in Ecclesaistes 1, 2. :)

Interested in getting the answers and/or the .ppt? Email me or post your guesses with a request and I'll send it to you!

Please pray for the training that will occur in the next 5 weeks (Wed's) as we prep for deploying two summer ministry teams; one in Springville, NY, and one in Tyrone, NY.

Heading on out of the comfort zone, pursuing vital ministry,
Mike Posted by Picasa

860 Kelly Hill Rd in Bloom

I can't even spell forsythia! This one in bloom in front of "the farm". Posted by Picasa

Marshmallow Madness

Extreme Madness as Pastor Ron and a teen from South Warsaw attempt the Marshmallow Swing game. We did not add chocolate syrup as a game modification... maybe next time! See/read the brief update in the comments section of the original post. Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 12, 2006

Tonight's Anything Goes Game Night

Tonight, we will be holding our annual spring outreach event at WyBC. Please pray for teens that are inviting teens, for teens to accept the invitation to come and to respond and for the speaker, Daryn Duff. I will be working with Kyle to run the games. Posted by Picasa

DQ's for Chapter 8

This Sunday school class has opened up all sorts of conversations for Charles and for others in the class. It is great to hear them share during the prayer and share time on Sunday nights about the joy of being stretched by God's Word and Dr. Meadors. These testimonies are so much better than "Great Aunt Myrtle's bunion problems"! :)

Here is the next wave of questions to help you engage with us!
  1. Define conscience; think about its formation, development and role in a person’s life. Is your definition a psychological, philosophical or Biblical one? (ref. Meadors p. 155)
  2. Discuss the ramifications of Jiminy Cricket’s advice, “Always let your conscience be your guide.” What worldview does Walt Disney’s cartoon portray by using this character? Is it “just cartoons”?
  3. How reliable or limited is your conscience? What are its limitations? How can these limitations be overcome? What is the role of good or bad feelings to decision making? (c. Meadors, pp.157, 164)
  4. Read Romans 2:12-15. Who has the “advantage” with regard to conscience? What does an increased understanding do to their hearts? How then should this affect our reading of pharaoh’s response in Exodus 7-9?
  5. Why can our consciences not be trusted as the final judge for making decisions? Why do people try to silence their consciences?
  6. Consider the stronger/weaker brother conversation in 1 Corinthians 8:7-13. Why was the stronger brother strong? How could he be wrong too?
  7. “The function of conscience always lags behind [conviction], because a change of mind takes time.” (Meadors, p.161) Share a personal illustration of this principle from your own life.
  8. In the cartoons, how is the conversation of conscience depicted? Who are those little voices in our heads? How does the “conscience conversation” change when making decisions in areas of clear commandments, community standards, or personal standards?
  9. What is the secret to maximizing the helpfulness of the assistance given by conscience?

Why not start a conversation of your own today about conscience, worldviews, or values sets? I look forward to hearing how it turns out!

Molding and shaping young people into a focused worldview,


Monday, May 08, 2006

Your Favorite Biblical Passage/Book

What would it take to get you to have a favorite book of the Bible? I know that we are not supposed to have favorites, but humor me on this one. Do you have a favorite book? Your favorite one is the one that you are always running the events of the day through. Your favorite one may be the one that always pops into your mind when you are talking with a friend. You may even have given your children or pets the names of your favorite book's character(s). What is your favorite book?

Sixty six choices-- each one of them a best seller -- and so hard to choose just one. I realized yesterday at church that the ones that are my favorites are the ones that I have spent a lot of time with. Here are the ones in the running for me.

1&2 Samuel -- Before you claim foul for choosing two books here. This was originally part of a larger corpus that included Kings. I am narrowing it to the Samuel volumes of the set. Because there was no study guide available for 2 Samuel, I wrote my own discussion q's. I had to process each piece carefully myself before asking someone else to dive in. The story of David's rise to positional power is fascinating! The story of sin's sapping his energies post 2 Samuel 11 is hard stuff.

Job -- I know not the most happy, joyful, abundant life sort of Monday reading. But I was really stretched in my thinking about Job through a Sunday School class that a friend of mine taught. The commentary book by Mike Mason did not hit the nail on the head in all cases. BUT it did jar some thought provoking ideas about the book of Job. I love the premise for the Mason's book too -- he read, journalled, edited, compiled reflections on the text -- all while going through some difficult times in his life. He said that there were times that he got up in the night to jot an idea down on whatever he could find. That is immersion study!

Mark -- Again, I know that you are not supposed to have favorites, but this is my favorite of the four gospels. Somewhere along the way, I latched on to this shortest of the gospel with its short matter of fact, in your face speech. Probably the influence of Peter the impulsive fisherman.

1 John -- fellowship! This is my favorite topic. It is something that I have a high value for and that I think that our world desires. Pastor Evans gave a great communion message on fellowship with God this past weekend. It is actually what got me thinking about my favorite books. 1 John was my first full NT book series that I preached. The firsts also have a special place in your heart.

Psalm 119 -- I know, technically that this is not a book. But it is long enough to qualify! :) So many intricately crafted, well worded pictures into the beauty of God's Word. 23 windows into the text! I believe that if I ever write a book it will be one on Psalm 119. (again, this pledge came up this week in "normal" conversation)

But the winner is really.....
James -- The reason why I love this book is that I memorized the first chapter as a very young believer. It's words are very familiar. Its words come to mind often. It is easy to apply this little book of NT wisdom literature. Well easy to see the application anyway. I love to share its truths and meditate further on its relevance to my life. Wisdom literature is my favorite type of Biblical literature. I love Proverbs too, especially the My Son speeches in the early chapters (1-7). Pastor Evans brought up the double-minded man image this weekend in his message on Sunday and I thought immediately of James' description of driven with the wind (horizontal) and tossed (vertical).

So what is yours? Post a comment and nominate your favorite. By the way, there is no wrong answer! Its all good. Thanks for being both a hearer/reader and a doer of the word today; remember what manner of man that you are and CHANGE!

Desiring to be a man of the book not just a man of the cloth,

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Chocolate Milk Goggles

Two of my kids with their chocolate milk goggles on! :) Very effective with the bright lights of fame at the AWANA awards dinner. Both kids finished their books! :) They musta got their smarts from their momma! I wonder what she looks like in goggles??

Proud Poppa,
Mike Posted by Picasa

Huh? Teen Stunned by Light Flash

Although you may not be able to tell from this picture, Kyle is on target as a teen. Any guy who can find plaid skater pants and a Tony Hawk T-shirt for $3 ea. is at least a good shopper! By the way, I don't think he even owns a stick!
Kyle has recently joined the YG (by graduation) and is beginning to show some signs of leadership. Being a 9th grader means that you have to find your place in the group. With an older brother in the group too, the place is probably off in a corner somewhere. But Kyle has recently taken on an important role. He will be helping me with games for Marshmallow Madness (May 12). It is not that I can't handle it myself, nor is it that Kyle is not competitive, ... he is in training. He will be helping run the games at VBS and probably at the summer missions trip to Springville, NY. I hope to help him develop his gaming skills to the point that he will run the games for youth group as well. The problem now is that he has no creativity; everything ends up being hockey or football with him. Have a little imagination Kyle, and remember to smile! :)

I do like hockey and football,
Mike Posted by Picasa

AWANA Awards Night

Last night we had our closing program for the AWANA groups. Pictured here with me is one of the most fun, well-adjusted pre-teens that I have ever seen! Steph has three rough and tumble older brothers. She is a 6 yrs younger than her next oldest brother. Steph's family is one of our farm families here in Wyoming. Yet I may never get to have her in sr hi youth group -- her parents are talking about selling their farm in Wyoming Cty and moving! Uggggh. It seems a lot of that has been going around here lately! We had a great time celebrating with the kids last night. Steph won some awards too. I think she finished her final AWANA TnT book!
Good job Steph! :) I think she has a piece of Mike-n-Ike candy in her mouth!

Loving youth, even the ones that are slipping away,
Mike Posted by Picasa