Friday, January 25, 2008

What is Our Youth Ministry Action Plan

Greg Stier, author of Ministry Mutiny, wrote a very challenging article "Why Mormons Do Better Youth Ministry Than We Do". It points to the level of commitment that the Mormons expect from their young people and the aggressive pursuit of preparation of these young people for ministry. His conclusion is spot on:

"We need to push our teens. We need to turn them into active activists. We need to build consistent opportunities for service, outreach and training. We need to equip them to share their faith and then go with them, leading the way. After all, we are youth leaders.
Somebody may accuse me of looking at this as some sort of competition. It is. We are in a competition with Satan for thesouls of our young people. And we are getting our rears kicked.
My problem is not with Mormons. It's with us. Let's learn from the Mormons and turn our kids into missionaries. Armed with the power of the true gospel (not some aberrant belief system) our teens could mount a comeback and help us win this thing.
Game on."

I want to win the war,

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ordering Your Thoughts

Here's some good reminders about taking our thoughts captive today:

"Ordering our thoughts by guarding our minds against ungodly imaginations is our first defense against the schemes of the enemy. The battle for our hearts and minds takes place in our thought life. We must purpose to think thoughts pleasing to God, filling our minds with scriptures declaring the promises of God."

Life's Ultimate To Be List, p. 25

what good, acceptable, pleasing thoughts are you thinking about today?
what Scriptures are reminding you that God is crazy about you and totally for you?
who is winning the battle today?

Filling up on the Word,
And thereby winning the war,

Friday, January 18, 2008

What is your WQ?

It is certainly not IQ that matters. It is wisdom that counts with God. The fourth lesson for WOL year 2 round 2 was a lesson from the book of Proverbs. I specifically went to chapter 9 and looked at the contrast between folly and wisdom.

Chapter 9 is a classic contrast of these two worldviews as they are personified as Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly who both call the simpleton to eat at their table a feast that they have prepared.

Here is the conclusion section of that lesson which asks four key questions that evaluate whether you are in the wise man's camp or the foolish man's camp.

"How wise are you? Is there a test that will measure your wisdom level? The answer is yes! The book of Proverbs not only shows us how to live, it also shows us how to measure our progress in God’s eyes. Here are a few questions to determine whether you are a wise person or a foolish person.

Question 1: How do you respond to correction? (9:7, 8)

When people share how your choices do not match up with God’s Word, do you get angry and ignore them? Then you are a fool. When parents and friends show how you can make better choices and please God, do you thank them for their concern and make changes quickly? Then you are wise.

Question 2: Are you growing “smarter and stronger” spiritually? (9:9)

Are you willing to work hard and study the Bible so that you can know God’s instructions (Proverbs 5:1-11)? You are wise. Becoming better and better at making good choices that always please God does not happen by accident. Wise people aren’t easily tricked by Satan’s lies (7:22-23) because they have studied the truth. Grow stronger as a wise warrior for God (Ephesians 6:11-16) by putting on your armor.

Question 3: Do you have a loving, personal relationship with God? (9:10)

A wise boy or girl hates the things God hates (6:16-19; 8:13) and loves the things God loves (7:4; 8:17)! As you choose to follow God’s ways, you will learn to love God more. As you obey Him, you will grow closer to Him. A wise person doesn’t want to do anything that will not please God. We are most happy when we are living God’s way.

Question 4: Is God blessing your life? (9:11, 12)

Trouble seems to happen more frequently in the life of the fool (6:15). Whenever he chooses the dangerous ways he gets caught! He does not have God to help him. Don’t be fooled. The blessings of God are not just about getting more money! Wisdom is better than all the money in the world (8:10-11, 18-21)!

So are you a fool or a wise boy or girl? God knows which you are, you cannot fool Him! (5:21-23)"

Praying for more wisdom,

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Are You Diluted?

"Like fine wine poured into a jug of water, Jesus' wondrous message of grace gets diluted in the vessel of the church."

What's So Amazing About Grace, p. 29

I don't have to know too much about wine to get this comment. I want a vintage church (in terms of wine excellence, not in terms of musty fermentation). I want a vintage life! We will serve no wine before its time. May it be said of me, "You have saved the best wine until last".


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Deuteronomistic History

For those of you who don't understand the humor of the title, it's okay. You don't really need to know about the JEPD textual criticism discussion, but if you want to....

Side Bar: For those of you who would like a boost of encouragement today, take a look at what is happening with WyBC teens online. We are engaged in a discussion about the application and lessons that can be learned from a fairly tense confusing passage of Scripture. The teens are doing admirably at their give and take in the conversation.

Back to deuteronomistic history, I just completed a week of writing conference where one of my tasks was to teach the book of Deuteronomy in three lessons for 1st -6th graders. Easy huh? Maybe if you are a third grade teacher. Maybe if you are smarter than a fifth grader.

Here is an overview of these lessons:

Lsn 1: Three Steps to Accomplishing Mission Impossible

A three step process for handling things that seem to hard to handle; look back at what God has done in the past, trust His Word, obey what you know to do.

Lsn 2: God's Top Ten Ways to Love Him Wholly

An overview of the importance of God's Law -- it shows us how to live differently in a broken world. By our obedience, we show the world that God and our friendship with Him through Jesus makes a difference in the way we do life.

Lsn 3: What Does Your Future Hold?

A look at the choice between blessings and cursings; All of our choices have consequences.

It was a good (albeit exhausting and sometimes difficult) week with a great ending. I am always glad that I went and always excited about the product that we turn out. I am sorry that I cannot give you any of the details of the lessons or send you copies since they belong to Word of Life. But if you buy the curriculum, you should see these lessons in 2 years. :) Tell them that Mike Paris sent you! (I don't think that there is a finder's fee)

Thanks for praying,

Thanks for caring,


BTW -- My second task was to summarize the difference between wisdom and folly.

Lsn 4: Test your WQ (Wisdom Quotient)

A four part test to see if you are really growing in wisdom. See the next post. :)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Prayer and Share

I am a firm believer in the whole prayer and share stuff. We used to do it in our WOL youth group before we broke up for DIA groups. Here at Wyoming, we do it as a church family in SS and in evening service. Sunday night we had an hour of sharing and group prayer!

This is a coded list so that no one is vulnerable or exposed online, but check out the praises!! :)

CR -- "It was great to be able to share a testimony this morning at the end of the morning service. Thanks for asking me!" CR also mentioned that he had a plan for the next couple of books that he would be reading: It's Not About Me; Little Red Book of Wisdom; He quoted "You will be the same a year from now apart from the people you meet and the books that you read"
NF -- There were some incredible bonds fomed during the practices and performance of the Baggage Claim drama. She was glad to have had her Mom and sister come to the drama when they could have done other things.
CB -- He and his wife had done some visiting at the second night of the drama (they came back to see it again) that had been well received; He was putting into practice something he had studied for SS -- praying and being in tune with the promptings of the Spirit; He had a chance this week to minister to a co-worker who had a car accident -- CB had arrived at the scene within 5 minutes of its happening; God had placed him at the right place at the right time
PZ -- I am an uncle; I want to be a good role model for the baby as he grows
DR -- Praise God for such a clear gospel message presented at the drama
DE -- Had a chance to talk with SD, the school administrator where we performed the drama; SD had been in a Bible study with another one of our ladies in the past.
CM -- had a chance to talk with two people after the first night of drama; one had never thought about God before!!, the other had realized that she had been harboring sin in her life and was planning to change as a result of the drama
GR -- a former co-worker really needs prayer, she stopped in and visited with GR and her husband on Sunday afternoon; GR and her husband were able to witness with another couple to a waitress using the lyrics of the Christmas carols being played as mood music!
JM -- what a delight to hear the prayers of the cast and crew as we worked together to share this drama; it was a total team effort
MP -- excited about seeing the young people getting "it" and using "it" to minister during the drama and Christmas caroling, etc.; his son (age 4) has been praying wonderful prayers thanking God for his gift, Jesus at Christmas time -- thanks to SS teachers who have been pumping the boy full of good stuff! :)
CR -- his daughter and son-in-law were going back into a diffilcut work situation after the holidays, desiring to come back to our area and church
BB -- able to give a Bible to a young boy who rides to AWANA with her; the boy is eagerly devouring the Word, setting as his goal to read through the Bible in one year; the boy and his sister are working on their memory work at home!

And that is just what I wrote down on my prayer notes. There were more and lots of stories being shared. It was a great encouragement to listen to them share their hearts with each other and conclude with prayer at the end of a longer sharing session. Praise the Lord with me!

The Next Step in the Exodus

Have you ever turned the corner in life thinking, "okay, now we're on our way" only to find that God was directing you in a round-about trip? If you have (I know that I have), then read Exodus 13:17-18, preferrably from the NIV.

God often takes in an alternate route to build us up and keep us from quitting. And He knows us better than we know ourselves. Even when we think that we are ready for the next step, to do battle with the enemy, God sometimes diverts our plans to keep us from getting crushed in our own strength.

If you are caught in what feels like a scenic route with God, enjoy the scenery! It is the best route for you right now. Just leave the driving to God! :)

With totally no concept of where God is leading me towards, and away from, at the same time, by His strength and presence,

PS -- for another look at this passage (click here)