Four Questions You Should Ask A Racist

There are many in the KKK, White Aryan Nation, and other racist organizations who love to quote the Bible and espouse Christian principles but deny God’s Word entirely.

As believers, it’s important to keep the conversation in spiritual terms because the racist will want to talk history, politics. and a general sort of religion.

The goal, at least as I see it, of these questions isn’t to shut down the racist but rather open them up to the truth of the gospel. Shaming a racist, or anyone else, may quiet them or send them into hiding but it will not win them to the Lord.  The Holy Spirt isn’t interested in clever shut down tactics, He’s interested in drawing them to the Savior.

These cultural “christians” love America but hate God. How do I know.? The Bible is clear about who God is, who Jesus is, and how those who claim to follow Jesus should behave. If you want expose the faux christianity of  these cultural “christians” and begin a real conversation about true faith, start with these four questions.

Do you believe everyone is made in the image of God?

Yes, according to this verse we are.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Gen 1:27

If we are all made in the image of the Creator, who are we to slander, kill, or make worthless any one person let alone any race of people.

 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.[a] The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:11-12

but no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. James 3:9

Christianity mixed with racism is hypocrisy. It is hypocritical to say we love God and despise the image of God in others.

Do you believe in the commandments of Jesus? 

and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this:  ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30,31

There is not ambiguity here. it cannot be explained away. When pressed by one who wanted to justify who their their neighbor was and was not, Jesus answer with a parable of a Jew and a racially mixed society called the Samaritans. This was not just a parable of two different men but two racially and religiously different men.

If we are to call ourselves believers we cannot say that one person is my neighbor and the other is not.

Do you believe Jesus died for everyone?

If Jesus did not die for everyone, then he died for no one. If a man, regardless of his skin color, cannot call on the name of the Lord to be saved, then the cross is worthless to everyone.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Racists want a white territory to call their own, but they’re not considering the racially diverse eternity they’ll step into one day.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, Rev. 7:9

Remind those with racist beliefs that heaven is and will be a multicultural, multiethnic kingdom. Jesus said, “on earth as it is in heaven” and if He wants earth to look more like heaven, then earth cannot be divided according to race.

Do you believe hating others is a sin?

Once again, this is about a racists view of Jesus, heaven, and eternity. If they’ve had any church or bible background they know what sin is, what sin does, and the penalty for it.

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. I John 4: 20,21

Hate is the antithesis to the gospel. Hate is the opposite of Jesus.  To hate another person because of color, or anything else, means God is not with you, for your, or cheering on your cause.

If the racist battle cry is “for God and country” their serving the wrong god. In fact, they’ve created one than matches their ideology and borrow gods and idols from Neo-Nazi past to prop up their cause.

Like I said in the beginning, the questions we should be asking is not to solely shut people down but to open them up to a new conversation that will get them thinking in spiritual and eternal terms. We can shame them or allow the Holy Spirit to convict them. Which is more powerful? Which will lead to the winning of a heart to Christ?

We will never get rid of hate or injustice without Christ. Our tactics will only quiet those who espouse these hateful ideologies, for a time, only to rear its head later.

Let us remind ourselves, and those who oppose the gospel, of the words by the Apostle Paul

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal.3:28

If you’re on the front lines, I applaud your stand. If you’re a believer on the front lines, remember where the real war is , it is in the hearts and the minds. Our battle is not agains flesh ad blood but again powers and principalities, and only the Spirit will succeed where our tactics fail.

 

 

 

 

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My Three Most Important Mentoring Rules

“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” — John C. Maxwell

This is a great definition of mentoring, and this kind of mentoring  has been a huge part of my ministry if not a part of my life. I have had some great mentors when I was young but, today, it seems everyone kind of expects you to have it all together by now.

Well, I don’t have it all together, and I’m still always on the hunt for mentors who will help me along this leg of the race. If you’re a youth worker working with teens in the local church, a non-profit, or camp setting, let me encourage you to find a mentor and hold on to them as long as you need to or until they have helped you finish your part of the journey.

Until that time, let offer you three thoughts on mentoring

Mentor By Example First  (Priorities, Family, Spiritual Life, Online Life)

Your example speaks louder than messages, events, and activities. Kids are watching your marriage, your family, your online life, and yes, even how you participate in church.

You may think your priorities are private but in realty they are public for all to see, especially online.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. I Timothy 4:12

This very is not just for young pastors but for all believers. Jesus said,

I have setyouan exampleso thatyoushould doasIhave donefor you. John 13:15

The example has been spelled and now it needs to be lived out.

Mentoring Your Students On Purpose 

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2: 3-5

Mentoring is an invitation to walk with someone. Mentoring can be done in a small group or a Sunday school class, but it is always done by invitation.

Jesus ask, “Follow me and I will make you..”

What can you make of the students in your ministry? Jesus made fishermen and if you are wise, you will have a short list of three things you want to help kids with. For me it’s

Bible Literacy, Character, and Skill Based Training.

I had an awesome experience the other day with a recent graduate. He came by the church to ask me some questions. This is is the kind of kid who says they want to ask you a question and you have no idea what is about to come out of their mouth. So, I said come with I have a few errand to run.

When we got in my truck I asked him, “Well, what’s up?” He told me he was taking an online Old Testament Class. I was blown away,. This kids never struck me as one to take that kind of class. We ran from place to place and he ask me questions and  we talked about his class. It was my kind of awesome.

I love to teach kids not just about a verse but about the context, the characters, the nuances of scripture. Students with a real depth of knowledge of scripture won’t soon be fooled by spiritual phonies or be weaponless in times of spiritual combat.

I don’t just want to make kids good, I want them to live lives of conviction. Having character and integrity is a learned process and so when there are times when a student needs to apologize to someone, I encourage them to make it right. If a student needs discipline, I offer it as a courtesy not as payback. Character is I Corinthians 13 lived out.

Kids need skills. Some of the kids I work with are slow on the skill building. They play a lot of video games and aren’t learning anything except how to win (at the time of this post) at Overwatch. Any time I can say, “Hey, let me teach you this…” I do if they will let me.

Mentor with a process in mind

And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2

What have you learned? Make a short list of the things you’d like to pass on to the students in your ministry. I have three, bur you may have five. It doesn’t matter about the number, only that we are always pouring out that which God and man have poured into us.

Find kids who have some sticky-ness to them. They come to every meeting, every activity, etc. These kids may have a choice of not bu if they are going to be present why not offer them a little bit more to motivate them.

Once you teach them, over time, give them a change to teach others. I am working with an intern right now and she is learning how I work, expectations, etc. and once I pour what she needs in tour her I am releasing her to our into others. It’s I pour, she pour without too much downtime.

“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” — Denzel Washington

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20

I recommend  Mentoring 101 by John Maxwell if you are looking for a place to start.

Who’s mentoring your students right now?

What are they being molded into?

How are you playing a part in shaping students?

If you’d like to here me talk through these points watch the FB Live below.

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Charlotteville: We Can Sleep Or We Can Shine

I haven’t been watching the news for a whole now. It’s just too sad and disappointing. I do get alerts and I have read articles on Charlottesville and I have to confess, I’m numb to it.

It’s overwhelming. It’s too much, and I’d rather go back to sleep. The young lady who was killed in Charlottesville had dreams, goals, desires. She was someone’s daughter, friend, and employee. Her final words on Facebook were

“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention”

We, the Church,  should be outraged but not unhinged. Our response to this tragedy should look more like a laser beam than dynamite. We need to have the same energy but a different response. We should be surgical, rather than explosive, in our response to racism.  This This surgery must begin with our own hearts.

We must first pay attention to our own lives and ask Christ to shine a light in our dark hearts and, what ever is revealed, repent of it.

I’m reminded of the verse

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that is illuminated becomes a light itself. So it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,… Ephesians 5:13-15

Going back to sleep, in light of any death by racism, should not be the response of the church. The church has been asleep for far too long.

We must, as the scripture says, wake up, rise up and pay careful attention to how we walk as believers, calling out racism and bigotry where we see it.

It will be upon those who wake up, speak out, and stand firm Christ that Christ will shine and thereby illuminate the darkness. Do not suppose that shining once will chase the darkness away, but we must shine always so that the darkness never returns.

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Why Cynicism Is My Best Pastoral Attribute

If there’s one thing that makes me cynical, it’s optimists.- Julian Baggini

This explains a lot. I am not a fan super-optimistic, everything is coming up roses, and farts smell like new car smell, kind of people. I’ve always been like this and I have finally embraced it.  I was called a cynic the other day and I was ok with that. Cynicism, in my opinion, in small doses, is a good thing.

For years I have quoted Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Having been in ministry for over 30 years, and alive on the planet for 49, this statement has been proven true in both believers and non-believers. Was Jeremiah a cynic? Or, had he just seen the worst humanity had to offer and stated the obvious?

Cynicism is

believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity.

I believe both of this is true of human beings in general, myself  included The difference is I, like the Apostle Paul, believe there is nothing good in me. I ‘m blessed with a self awareness that will not allow me to put full trust and reliance on myself.

Cynism is not hopelessness. Cynicism is not faithlessness. Cynicism is putting hope and faith in God rather than people. People say they lose hope in humanity, I say good for them. That’s progress.

How many times have you heard “this pastor has an affair” and “this speaker was caught doing such and such’? It seems, human frailty is par for the course in scripture, so why should I be shocked at humanities propensity, Christian or otherwise, for self destruction?

But Jesus did not entrust Himself to them,for He knew all men. He did not need any testimony about man, for He knew what was in a man.…John 2:24

Was Jesus a cynic because He didn’t trust mankind? Because he already knew what man could/would do?

Living  a cynic’s life offers me the opportunity to be genuinely surprised and thrilled when someone does something loving and sacrificial.

A healthy, spiritual cynicism means..

I don’t buy the false positives of religion and look for, and embrace, the true fruit of a changed life in Christ.

I don’t believe all the good things people say about me and thereby inflate my ego.

I don’t believe every youth meeting is great and that nothing is wrong. Something is always wrong and may be never be fixed, but God’s grace is sufficient.

In Julian Baggini’s article, In Praise of Cynicism he concludes

We can’t make things better unless we see quite how bad they are. We can’t do our best unless we guard against our worst. And it’s only by being distrustful that we can distinguish between the trustworthy and the unreliable.

I could not agree more. Let’s stop saying how great everything is, or how great we are, and  point the searchlight of cynicism on ourselves so we can bring those things in the dark into the light of Christ.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12

Putting my own life under the cynics microscope, first, allows me to stay humble and positive that things can change. If Jesus can do it in me, He can do it in anyone.

 

 

 

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My 7 Back To School Rules For Youth Pastors

Close your summer out right

Have a bonfire, testimony night, or a slide show of all your summer activities. Maybe have a special worship night or a night where everyone affirms one another and points out where they shined this summer.

I share a few ideas here

Plan with the end in mind

Get your Christmas Party on the church calendar and beat the rush. Make a list of what kind of student you want to have in three months or at the end of the school year and plan accordingly. We are doing a time video time capsule and letting kids talk about their goals and dreams for the year and we will show it at the end of the school year. This will be great for all our seniors this year.

Kick off your season with a bang, a few weeks after school starts.

End of summer and fall are two separate things. I like clear lines between season. This is probably form living in Florida too long where there were no lines. The only way I knew seasons were changing, was by what was on the shelf at Wal Mart.

I recommend having your kick off several weeks into the school year so kids can meet others, get to know them, and invite them the big deal.

Looking for a good kick off, try this

 

 

Have a W2W Strategy

What is W2W? That is a Wednesday to Wednesday strategy. How will you communicate with students between the W’s? How will you communicate with parents? If you do not have a current way of doing this try doing a one minute Instagram devotion every day or post a poll so kids can vote on various things.

Have a printed as well as digital fall calendars

Be sure to hit up your local print shop,  if you cannot make your stuff in house, and you’ll find some great options for putting out your flyers and calendars.

Be sure to take the time now to make digital flyers for download so parents can copy them and put them on the fridge.

You should also make your social media pieces using this and this.

Get ahead of the game!

Meet with parents and find out what they need

We are having an open house after service one Sunday and I plan on using this day for recruitment of parents and other church members for events, camp, etc.

Before this day happens, I will be doing a FB live video to my parents group to share my heart for the new year and to all them to share their ideas and what their kids need specifically.

Parents must have a voice and we should give them every chance to communicate with us. Even the crazy ones.

Meet with school officials

Getting to know your school is important if you hope to make it your office away from your office. Here’s a few ideas.

Check with coaches to see if they need help

Check with the office to see if you can be put on a chaperone list

Offer your services as a photographer, videographer, or editor.

Offer your church for the football team to have pre-game lunch at (this has worked for me) or for the end of the year awards ceremony.

At least make sure the office staff knows you in case you go and eat lunch with some of your students.

To get more ideas like this in out inbox, be sure to sign up for the Fresh Impact Newsletter below.

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Losing Your Faith In Humanity? Good.

I’ve seen various iterations of this

“I’ve lost my faith in humanity”

“I’m losing my faith in humanity because..”

People post this because some, a lot, or all human beings have disappointed them in the moment or all that day. When someone posts, “I’ve lost my faith in humanity”, I’m not surprised because we were never supposed to put our faith in humanity in the first place.

If humanity was such a great deal, God wouldn’t have had to

  • start over with Noah
  • sent Jesus to the cross
  • make such a big deal about sin and obedience

Faith in humanity is what got us into trouble in the first place. Adam and Eve thought disobeying God was a good idea (at the time) and didn’t seem that bad.

Isaiah says,

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Isaiah 5:21

and the Apostle Paul says

My message and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith would not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. I Corinthians 2:5

So, the next time someone hurts you, does you wrong, or does something stupid, let’s not be shocked by that. Humanity is a burning dumpster fire without God and will continue to muck up the planet without Him.

There’s only one thing. The same humans who are mucking up this life, are the only ones who can make it better. In response to a snippet of this post on Facebook, my friend Steve Case said,

Humanity is also a burning dumpster fire WITH God. God is there saying “hey fool get the hose. it’s right there, pick it up.”

He’s not wrong.  #balance

 

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The Future of Youth Ministry Depends On This

Are you a time traveler. Do you live in the future and visit the past every time you go to church?

Many people do. I love the church, it’s first century church principles, but I don’t want to go back to sitting on the floor and eating falafel.

There are many time traveling Christians. They live in the 21st Century and flash back to the 1970’s, 80’s and even 90’s every Sunday and it’s killing the faith.

I used to complain about mega churches and now I’m a fan because at least they embrace technology and they believe the message is important enough and that people are important enough to do Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, and every new etc.

So many youth pastors, of my age (40 and above) have resisted technology, social media, etc. I’m not saying you have to do it but at east find a kid or a young adult who will document the journey of your ministry. I think we should also live out your faith publicly, online and off,  so other teens and people in your community can see how a faith life works even with it’s ups and down.

How important is the message? How important are your students? Enough to change? Enough to learn something new?

Our ability to change, adapt, and adopt will set the pace for  future generations. In fact, the future of our student’s faith depends on it.

 

 

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If This Were Your Last Year In Youth Ministry..

As you’re thinking about the fall season and planning events, activities, and messages, let’s add a wrinkle, this is your last year.

If you knew this was your last year at this church does it make a difference how you will plan? What about if it was your last year as a full time youth pastor? Are there some things you’ve been holding back on? Why?

What would you want to leave your students with? (Try writing that in one sentence) Now, plan accordingly.

What lessons are most important?

Which activities would leave he greatest impact?

Who would you pour into?

Who would you make things right with?

How would you staff your ministry?

How much effort would you put into evangelism. worship. or fellowship?

Why can’t you start planning this way today?

We should always be planning with the end in mind, and not just the end of our youth pastoring days but the end of our days here on earth.

Psalm 90:12 says

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Let’s plan for eternity rather than forever.

If you are looking for some help with your fall planning, check out my book Prepared For Impact.  

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The Recipe Is Not The Meal

Fun fact, I like role playing games. I like story telling, adventure, and laughing around a table with friends for a few hours. I’m always learning new things about my own faith and my faith journey by playing games and listening to others to who talk about games.

In a recent video, game designer and author Matt Colville, shared about those who play rpg’s and why, when they ask a questions about their game, the online ‘experts” shame them or tell them how to play their game. Matt makes the observation that many of those experts are not currently running a game themselves so they are busy telling others how they should run theirs. Sound like real life?

Too many people are not living the adventure of their faith so they feel it necessary to tell others how they should live theirs.

At the beginning of the video, Matt says that scripts are not movies and that more has to happen before the page comes to life and eventually to the screen.

This was such a powerful statement to me. As one who reads, studies, and attempts to life by the scriptures, it is very easy to see the faith life as just a black and white script rather than a movie in the making with technicolor and dolby sound.

The life of faith is more than a script that we follow. We are making a faith movie called life. There is a script, but reading a script is not a movie. When we attempt to serve and love like Jesus, everyday, we’re making a faith movie with our lives for all to see.

At the end of the video, Matt says,

The map is not the territory. The recipe is not the meal. The rules are not the game. – Matt Colville

Game are about people laughing, enjoying, and building community around a table. Reading, debating, and tell others how to play the game is not fun and is not a game. Shouldn’t faith be more than the reading of a recipe? The study of a map? The joy is in playing the game, eating the food, and exploring the map and so is the faith journey.

Don’t let the religious “trolls” tell you how to live; they’re, more than likely, not enjoying their own faith; leaving them nothing but to tell others how to enjoy theirs.

 

 

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My Short List of Ways We’re Helping Kids Fail At Following Jesus

It came out of my mouth so fast I barely had time to think about it, “You are helping them to fail.”

My friend has a videography business. He uses the best technology  but has flashes back to 1992. In the conversation we were having, he recommend to someone about making DVD. My jaw just dropped, dumbfounded.

This made me thing about all the ways we fail people and especially students. Here’s my short list of how we’re helping kids fail at following Jesus.

We help kids fail when we do not discipline (correct) them

I know we are not their parents, but next to them and their teachers, we maybe the only other authority figures in their lives spending any significant time with them.

We see their faults and their failings and, if you were young like me once, you traded some of your authority for popularity. This is automatic fail in my opinion. I would trade any popularity I might have gained with those kids for another shot at telling them the truth in love.

Recently, I took our kids to camp. A young lady, who represents the Goth culture, was with us and has been a solid member of our youth ministry for seven years. She was wanting to go a bit over the top for my taste and asked her not to dress that way. I talked with her a week before camp about dress and make up and not to go over the top. She was offended and did not speak to me for the rest of the camp.

I don’t make apologies for being the the grown up in the room, and neither should you. Things have blown over and I get the occasional wave now and again. Things are warming up. They’ll get over it, or they won’t. Either way, I have to lovingly and

We help them fail by not helping students engage with basic spiritual disciplines 

I recently spoke at a camp this week. The same camp I have been speaking at for 14 years. For the most part, I do not put the full scripture on my slides any longer. I put the address of the scriptures and then ask if anyone would like to read the 6-8 scriptures I have as part of my messages. I always have volunteers to read. I go to where they are sitting and let them read the verse and then I share my point.

In addition, I ask campers to close the service by “praying us out of here”. Kids love the ownership of public prayer and usually results in increased confidence and respect from their peers.

Lastly, I ask for public testimony. This is never a forced activity. I ask, “Has God shown you anything or made a difference in your life this week?” Sometimes I get a dozen hands raised, sometimes one, sometimes none. Whether anyone gets up to share or not, the offer to share their story is the point. I believe God is always at work and giving students a chance to share helps them become bolder in sharing their faith in the long run.

We help them fail by not raising the bar

We contribute to a students’ failure by not expecting more from them. This especially applies to those church kids who say they are believers and followers of Jesus but rarely dark the doors of our youth room or sit passively while everything is done for them.

Jesus was constantly asking his disciples to do thinks that were way beyond what they thought was their human capacity.

“you feed them”

“leave everything”

“Go into all the world”

Big commands for simple fisherman and ordinary people, but how many times do we justify why we don’t challenge kids to dream big and do more?

“they’re poor”

“they’re homeschooled”

“they’re not the cool kids”

If we’re excusing our kids because of their current condition we are contributing to their future failure.

It’s our job/calling as youth pastor to challenge students to believe God for big things, it’s the students job to receive.

Let’s be faithful with our call and let God handle our students’ hearts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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