New Year. New Me. And This Time, It’s Personal

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You can see the difference in a leader who is just showing up and a caring leader who shows up predictably to create a safe community. There’s an obvious difference between someone reading off a script and someone who has crafted an engaging, relevant, and memorable experience. And you can feel the climate change in a ministry when the leader goes from checking off another Sunday to aligning a team with a common language and strategy. The difference comes, and things begin to change, when you make it personal.

In the early church, when the believers form a community, the writer of Acts says: “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals, and to prayer,” (Acts 2:42, NLT). This year, make it personal by deepening your devotion. Leave behind excuses, take off the masks, and get real with your community. Steward well the gift you were given in being a part of the local church. Don’t just tell people to join a volunteer team or life group but model what it means to make community personal.

Paul challenges us to make our work personal when he writes: “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth,” (2 Timothy 2:15, NLT). This year, make it personal by working for the Lord. If you work only to find the approval of your pastor you might be tempted to cut corners when not being supervised. Work on both the big projects and the minor details with a heart full of worship.

Paul also offers some encouragement when he says: “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up,” (Galatians 6:9, NLT). We all know how long most New Year’s resolutions last, but most people don’t make their commitment personal. As leaders in the church, we realize the impact we have in this next generation. Let’s make the mission personal and not get tired of caring for people.

This year can be a time of both personal and professional growth but it begins with you! Will you take on Orange Conference 2019’s theme and make it personal?

(Originally shared to the Orange Blog at: http://orangeblogs.org/orangeleaders/2018/12/20/new-year-new-time-personal/)

One Christmas Gift from Orange You Need Now

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Every year the Orange Conference is a huge gift to ministries around the world. The work they put into creating a strategy and plan shapes churches and helps us all do ministry with excellence. The Phase Project is one gift that I wish every ministry leader would lean into and learn from.

Orange defines a phase as, “A timeframe in a kid’s life when you can leverage distinctive opportunities to influence their future.” If we want to influence the next generation we need to understand their development and study their culture. To leverage the time we have with a student we need this research-driven project to impact our thinking.
Do you know when attention span increases up to 45 minutes, and the average girl begins puberty? Do you know the phase when “unfiltered words make you laugh, homework makes you cry, and life becomes a stage where you kid shouts, ‘Look at me.’” Are you trying to disciple students in the phase when “friendships shift, grades count, and interests change so often your teenager has to explain, ‘This is me now.’”

The Phase Project helps us understand how to make disciples on their level. In the elementary phase, kids are thinking like scientists and they rely on what they can observe. To help these kids mature in their relationship with God we need to tell one story, use real illustrations, and make it fun!

You have probably heard, you get about 40 hours in a year to tell that middle schooler everything they need to know about God, Jesus, faith, forgiveness, grace, love, life, and eternity. So what’s the plan?

“How are you going to influence the spiritual direction of the average child or teenager when you only have a few minutes every other week? You could increase your time with each kid if you…build a Christian school, show up for dinner at their house once a week, start a 6 a.m. Bible study before school, bring back lock-ins, crusade against competitive sports on Sunday, force every parent to sign a 52-week contract, or add mid-week programming. Or you could rethink your strategy to make the most of the limited time you will have at every phase.”

Take time today to take advantage of the Phase Project gift Orange has made available to you by checking out the Phase Webpage. And if you haven’t signed up yet, make sure you get your ticket now for Orange Conference 2019 because I’m sure this year’s conference will be a huge gift to you and your ministry!

Gamification – Integrating Game Mechanics into Your Teaching

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Have you earned Gold status using the Starbucks app? Are you one of the 100 million monthly active users on Waze? Do you have a Fitbit or work towards closing your rings on your Apple Watch? Have you tried to learn a language using an app like Duolingo? These apps and wearable tech are growing at an exponential rate because of their use of gamification. Gamification is the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring or competition with others) and other areas of activity.

What if you could integrate game mechanics into your ministry? I believe if we were to apply typical elements of game playing into our ministries, we could engage students in the church more than ever before.

Early gamification strategies used rewards for students who accomplish desired tasks or certain competition. Some ministries implemented Bible Bucks to reward kids who completed memory work or brought their bibles. I’m not suggesting starting a Bible Bucks program in your ministry, but what could you do to reward or encourage the students who are getting it right? What if you gave a shoutout on social media to the students who were bringing friends? What if you randomly gave out a prize to the student with the longest YouVersion streak? What if the only way to attend a special retreat or event was to currently be in a discipling relationship with a peer or to be active in a small group? There are many simple rewards based gamification strategies you could implement in your ministry.

Another approach to gamification is to make existing tasks feel more like games. I know many youth ministers who have attempted to learn guitar but gave up after a few weeks. Apps like Yousician use interactive technology to help make learning fun. You can begin using apps and technology to engage your students in the learning process. Download Youth Ministry (DYM) Sidekick app has ready to go programming elements that you can customize to engage your audience. You could use Emoji Hunt to introduce your bible story or maybe Survey Says as a way to recap a sermon series. Or maybe you use the Crowd Control JeParody GameBoard as a way to introduce the students to the Bible story you will be teaching. With a little creativity, you could engage your students in the lesson and make the whole teaching experience feel like a game.

Gamification often includes elements of crowdsourcing to engage participants. Apps like Waze allow individual users to share in the navigation experience of other users. With Snapchat you can create shared stories and, with the maps feature, could see the same event from a variety of perspectives. When your students walk onto campus, are there elements in place for them to engage in the process? Maybe for your next “Question’s” series, you promote an easy-to-use tool like Mentimeter where students can text in their questions and upvote what they want to be addressed in real-time. Maybe you ask students to submit a few game suggestions and see what type of games they enjoy playing. Or consider mobilizing students to be on stage doing announcements, to lead the games, or to preach the message. And if your students lack the confidence to preach, try interviewing the student as a first step. You don’t always need to be the person behind the microphone and you might be surprised at how much students lean in when another student is taking the lead.

What Gamification strategies are you currently using in your ministry? What apps or resources should we check out? Let us know!

(Originally shared on the Youth Specialties Blog at: https://youthspecialties.com/blog/gamification-integrating-game-mechanics-into-your-teaching/)

20 Leadership Quotes From #NYWC18

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For five decades youth workers from around the world have gathered for the National Youth Workers Convention. This year felt like we were bringing back the original heart of Youth Specialties. The YS family has gathered for a sold-out experience and the future is bright! We are only one day in and I needed to stop and share some of the drops of wisdom I’ll be digesting for weeks to come. 

“Criticism doesn’t require any intelligence.“ @DougFields 

“We have a hope of bringing the National Youth Workers back to the place where you just need to be there!“ @DougFields 

“Stop complaining about the pieces the master gave you and start acting like a masterpiece.” @robertmadu

“You can’t run your race if you’re focused on the runners in the other lanes.” @robertmadu 

“Many people cannot run the race God set before them because they have their eyes set on the people in the lanes beside them.” @robertmadu

“Comparison will consistently cloud the clarity of God’s call on your life.” @robertmadu

“A career is what you get paid to do. A calling is what you were MADE to do.” @robertmadu

“All you have to do is stay in your lane and keep your eyes on Jesus.” @robertmadu 

“When we keep looking to our side in the race of life, there is a crash in our near future.” @robertmadu 

“If the brightness of the blessing blinds you to the blesser, then the blessing has become a curse.” @robertmadu

“Comparison always starts with this phrase…’but me.’” @robertmadu

“I wonder if our phone screen becomes the mirror that we constantly check for a reflection to see if we measure up to somebody else.” @robertmadu 

“Rest in the fact that I (Jesus) have given you a grace to run your race.” @robertmadu

“This is a broken and fallen generation and you are standing In the gap.” Dr. Larry Acosta

“If you handle your nightmare correctly today, they can become a world changer tomorrow.” @Jrodriguez3Jr 

“Would you be persistent to those who are not being pursued?” @seanafenner

“You don’t have to relate to reach. Love is the great equalizer.” @GabrielRZamora

“Don’t be the superstar in your youth ministry. Give it away.” @GabrielRZamora

“Can you celebrate what God is doing even when it doesn’t involve you?” @josaxton

“What’s your spiritual rhythm as a team?
What’s your prayer life as a team?
What’s your fasting life as a team?” @josaxton

Yancy’s Heartbeat Curriculum Review and Giveaway

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Don’t you wish your preteens understood the true heart of worship? Yancy and Johnny Rogers have teamed up to create a five-lesson elementary and preteen curriculum your preteens are going to love. Heartbeat is a brand new curriculum designed to expand and express our understanding of what worship is and to cultivate a willing response to explore and experience worshipping God in a deeper and more personal way. Want to win? Click here!

Heartbeat Features:

• More than 90 Minutes of Content in each lesson to pick & choose from
• Leader Equipping Tip Sheets
• Leader materials for both Large Group & Small Groups
• Powerful processing time with Reflection & Response Activities
• Object Lessons Illustrations created by Jim Wideman
• Teaching Video Clips with Yancy, featuring a behind the scenes look at songwriting, recording, concerts and more
• What Does It Mean? video clips with Yancy, unpacking Hebrew words connected to Worship
• Helpful Worship Leader Scripts along with song suggestions for worship
• A take-home “Backstage Pass” for each lesson, complete with Life Application ideas and designed for easy use with lanyards
• Themed Video Countdown
• Heartbeat series video opening
• Animated Video Graphics & backgrounds
• Logo & artwork graphic files
• Promotional Social Media Plan

Lesson 1 – When I worship God, my heart overflows with praise.
Lesson 2 – When I worship God, I say YES to His invitation.
Lesson 3 – When I shout God’s praise, I amplify what is true about God.
Lesson 4 – When I praise God with music, I prepare for the battles of life.
Lesson 5 – When I worship with a heart after God, He takes center stage.

To enter to win a Heartbeat Curriculum Giveaway Click Here:

https://kingsumo.com/g/sowo3l/yancys-heartbeat-curriculum-giveaway

Are You Choosing Love in Your Marriage?

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Have you ever been to a wedding where 1 Corinthians 13 was not quoted? Every wedding I’ve attended the preacher or someone giving a toast quoted this scripture with a smile on their face and a desire to see love win for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death. For this love to win, couples must choose to endure all things. Choosing to love with a never-ending persistence can be hard, so keep these three truths in mind.

Love, even when it’s not fair or you don’t feel it. There may be times when your commitment is tested. To everything, there is a season and right now you might need to persevere and choose love. Possibly the greatest example in scripture of love enduring all things is found in the story of Hosea and Gomer where Hosea commits to love, even when it’s not fair. Hosea 3:1 says, “Then the LORD said to me, ’Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the LORD still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.’”

How can you prepare yourself now to make the choice to love even when you don’t feel like it?

Love, even when the other person has wronged you. To remain in love with a flawed individual requires true forgiveness. You can not keep a record of the wrongs committed against you, and you must abide when you want to flee. Colossians 3:13 challenges us to “make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

Are you holding on to an offense? Offer your spouse forgiveness.

Love, even when it’s hard. Love doesn’t quit or give up when it’s difficult. There is a persistence in love that chooses the person even at their worst. God’s example of this perfect love can be found in Romans 5:8-9 where Paul writes, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.”

We love each other because he loved us first. – 1 John 4:19

How can you love more like Jesus this week?

Let’s be like Jesus and love in such a way that endures all things. Let’s have the fortitude and courage to love through it all. Let’s resemble Jesus.

The Orange Conference – It’s Personal #OC19

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What is your all-time favorite movie scene? Is there a scene that instantly comes to your mind that includes both inspiration and a man on a horse? 

One of my favorite scenes is found in the classic movie Braveheart. Specifically the scene with William Wallace’s speech to his army right before he leads the Scottish countrymen to fight. The Scotland men, coming from all sorts of backgrounds are united under the one voice of William Wallace. William makes this battle personal for Scotland fighting against their enemy England. There is a spur of action, passion, strategy, and precision. 

If you have ever been to Orange Conference, you have felt this exact same emotion. With energetic worship, passionate speakers, dynamic breakouts, and Seriously Night you will be ready to go to battle for your students, church, preteen, or junior higher. 

Orange Conference is the speech before the fight that William Wallace (Reggie Joiner) gives to the Scottish (attendees) and that is the amazing thing about Orange Conference. This gathering of 7,000+ people makes the fight personal. The Orange Conference is not the fight for Scotland (the church) this is our pep rally before the fight. Let’s make it personal. (Insert William Wallace voice here) Jesus made a difference because Jesus made it personal! Let’s do the same!

Registration opens on October 18th! Don’t miss this gathering. Don’t stay on the fence. Instead, come and find the inspiration you need to fight the good fight and finish the race.

5 Things to Look Forward to at Kidmin Nation Mega-Con

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Hundreds of kids ministry leaders are making there way to Nashville for the Kidmin Nation Mega-Con! This year is going to be better than ever and I’m excited for what’s in store. Here are the top five things to look forward to at this year’s conference.

5. Learning to Color Outside the Lines

This year we will be challenged to remember Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s masterpiece.” Speakers will share how to color outside the lines in your life, giving you a fresh perspective and new ideas to build up yourself and your ministry as His masterpiece! I’m sure God is going to use this theme to do something big in our lives.

4. The 2018 Chevy Malibu Giveaway!

It’s not every day a kid’s pastor walks away with a brand new car! I’m so excited to witness the blessing God has lined up for an attendee. The winner from last year gave God so much glory and it was awesome to watch the whole story unfold.

3. 160+ Sessions

With so many options and awesome speakers, you really can cater the conference to hear specific content to what you are working through in your ministry. I’m excited to hear from some of my heroes and friends and I’m honored to lead a creative teaching techniques class Friday morning. If you’re in Nashville and want to learn in a creative and fun environment, check out “Gamification!”

2. The Day of Awesome

The Day of Awesome will be such a memorable and fun experience. Ryan’s Favorite Things Party is sure to include a few giveaways and the Night of Worship is the perfect way to wrap up the day. And did I mention, the Jim Wideman Bobblehead Hunt? How cool is that!?!

1. New and Old Friends!

At this 3-day children’s ministry conference, friends from around the country will gather together and then head back home with their cups overflowing. There will be scheduled networking opportunities built into the conference and there will also be so much connection taking place online through the hashtag #KidminNation. 

If you’re in Nashville find me and say hey! If you’re unable to make it this year, pick up your ticket now for $99 and I’ll see you next year.

#D62018 Conference Day 1 Notes

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Ron Hunter – @ronhunter

Planning for X – Backward Planning 

“Leadership and discipleship are two siblings in the same family.” 

We all have an “x”…the place where we are going to die. If you knew where it was, how would you live differently? How about the kids in your church? What would you do between now and then? With an end spot, how would you begin now to get there? 

As families, we have taken our kids to church and said…you do it, you’re the expert, you disciple my family. 

That one hour a week is nothing when it comes to a relationship with Jesus Christ. The hour a week at church is not enough for discipling our children. 

The Characteristic of a Healthy Church: Keep Refining Discipleship. Learning to be Christ-like and as a result, making disciple-makers. 

“Discipleship is at the heart of a healthy church.”

Biblical Foundation for Discipleship
Gen. 1:28
Deut. 6:4-7
Josh.24:15
Eph. 4:12-13
Ps. 78:6
Matt. 28:18-20

Like Little Green Army Men…

Realize your kids are different. 

Start as a newly enlisted private never stops. 

The General/Captain does not do all the training. 

We must prepare for life’s battles (defending their faith)

If you wait until the battle to prepare your kids, the odds are against them. 

“Discipleship reaches across generational lines. I know plenty of Millennials who would love to have people in the Boomer generation mentor their marriages.”

Toy Box Leadership: Leadership Lessons from the Toys You Loved as a Child by Ron Hunter

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Rob Rienow – @visionaryfam

“Are you passionate in the church but passive in your house?” 

“I had been putting my spiritual opportunities in front of my spiritual responsibilities.”

“The Great Commission begins at home.”

“Family worship is the engine that powers the Christian family.” 

“We have Christian families, with well-fed children, who are starving spiritually.”

“The essential program for family ministry is family worship in the home.”

It’s never too late to start. 

“Family ministry is about equipping and accelerating the home for Gospel impact.”

At the end of the day, we want to see Jesus high and lifted up…not just at church on Sunday mornings but in every Christian home all over the world. 

Visionary Parenting: Capture a God-Sized Vision for Your Family by Rob Rienow Amy Rienow 

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Lee Strobel – @LeeStrobel

“The virus of doubt is infecting too many of our young people.” 

1/3 Americans under the age of 35 have no religious affiliation. 

62% of millennial are certain that God exists. 

4 in 10 millennials say religion is important in their lives. 

Teens today are twice as likely as adults to say that they are atheists. 

The problem is we can not become complacent. 

They are leaving the church.

They are getting married later.

We have never seen such an effort to turn Christians into atheists. 

Young people are leaving the church at 5-6x the historic rate.

Most young people are sighting “intellectual doubts” for leaving the church. 

There is a pride in skepticism within this next generation. 

What can we do in our churches to rescue skeptics? 

Let young people know it’s okay to answer questions. Jesus answered people with sincere questions. 

Cultivate environments where it’s okay for people to express questions and doubt because there are people waiting in line to answer those questions. 

Help young people see that studying history and science can bring them closer to God. 

We need to give kids the confidence that we have truth on our side. 

“We have an unfair advantage on the marketplace of ideas. We have truth on our side.”

Doubt is like a nightmare. If you hold it in, it will erode your soul. But if you let it out and talk about it, it seems to lose the emotional hold it has on us. 

One of the 6 reasons young people are leaving the church is because they don’t feel the church is a safe place to ask questions. 

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15

The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Strobel 

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Breakout 1 – Family Ministry that Connects

Jeffrey Wallace – @IamJeffWallace

Students have a single story perspective driven by how they are raised. 

Was attending church an option or a mandate? 

What is the surrounding culture of your church? What are the surrounding demographics of the families in your church? Understand your demographics. 

  1. God desires for parents, guardians, and caregivers to love Him deeply and to love their kids deeply. 
  2. God desires for intentional discipleship to take place in both the home and the church.
  3. God desires the home and church to partner together to influence culture with the hopes of shaping the faith formation of a generation. 

Note: Together, the home and church exist to demonstrate God’s love to a broken world. 

What percentage of the kids in your youth group have parents who attend the church? 

What goes on in the connection points or bridges between ministries and family life stages? 

How many of you have an intentional transition strategy in your family ministry? 

How are you engaging in these particular subgroups?

  1. Parents, Guardians, Caregivers
  2. School
  3. Church Programming (internal/external)
  4. PTA/PCA

“Build relational equity with non-tradition parents so that they can experience the love of God.”

Family Ministry Strategy Chart

Where are you missing the mark? What’s missing in the strategy? 

“None and done until the 911”

And Jesus Grew…

Know: Upward development. Jesus grew in favor of God. Lordship/Disciples

Own: Inward development. Jesus grew in wisdom and stature. Character/Discernment. 

Known: Outward Development. Jesus grew in favor with man. Relationships/Influence. 

-LifeWay Christian Resources, KNOWN Strategy. 

Family-Ministry Perspectives

Family-Integrated Ministry (family driven faith all worship together)

Family-Based Ministry (separate contexts, shared focus: Children’s Church and Teen Church)

Family-Equipping Ministry (Church and Home co-champions: A combination of the two)

The family-equipping ministry model retains some age-organized ministries but restructures the congregation to partner with parents at every level of ministry so that parents are acknowledged, equipped, and held accountable for the discipleship of their children.

Family-Equipping is a Both/And model. 

Why not have a family service? Why not have family-focused events? Have some of group 1 as well as group 2 in your family ministry model. 

Mobilize parents to be all things for their kids. Be mentally and emotionally engaged in the life of their kids. We should want parents to be a good parent. 

Let’s Talk About It

  1. What’s the family dynamics percentages in your context? Traditional? Non-traditional? Blended? Adoption? Foster? 
  2. Which of the 3 family ministry perspectives best fits your context today? Where do you want to be tomorrow?
  3. What activities, events, or programs are you doing to promote healthy family ministry strategy? 

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15 Scriptures for Your Kids When Dealing with Racism

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If you are like me, you wish by now we would have decided as humans to treat others the way we want to be treated. You wish the next generation would be further along than we are and that racism would be a thing of the past. I wish we would have overcome the need for a post like this, but maybe the reason racism is still an issue is due to a lack of action and counting on wishful thinking to fix a human rights issue. 

The reality is kids today are still battling this issue. If your kids have come home in tears after being bullied for their race, here are 15 truths to talk about as a family.

Jesus said the most important things are to love God and to love others. Real love does not judge someone based on their skin color or language. Real love treats others right. God doesn’t want anyone to be mistreated. Matthew 22:37-40 says, “Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind.’ This is the first and most important commandment. And the second is like it. ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ Everything that is written in the Law and the Prophets is based on these two commandments.”

You were made in the image of God, and this is a beautiful truth. Genesis 1:26-27 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings so that they are like us. Let them rule over the fish in the seas and the birds in the sky. Let them rule over the livestock and all the wild animals. And let them rule over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created human beings in his own likeness. He created them to be like himself. He created them as male and female.

You are God’s masterpiece. God has made you who you are on purpose and with a purpose in mind! Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are God’s creation. He created us to belong to Christ Jesus. Now we can do good works. Long ago God prepared these works for us to do.

We are better together and we need each other. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 says, “There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.”

God cares for you and loves everyone. He treats everyone the same. Deuteronomy 10:17-19a, “The Lord your God is the greatest God of all. He is the greatest Lord of all. He is the great God. He is mighty and wonderful. He treats everyone the same. He doesn’t accept any money from those who want special favors. He stands up for widows and for children whose fathers have died. He loves outsiders living among you. He gives them food and clothes. So you also must love outsiders.”

Racism is sinful. We are disobeying God when we treat others disrespectfully. James 2:8-9, “The royal law is found in Scripture. It says, ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ If you really keep this law, you are doing what is right. But you sin if you don’t treat everyone the same. The law judges you because you have broken it.”

When someone sins against us, it hurts. We can take comfort in knowing God is close by. Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to those whose hearts have been broken. He saves those whose spirits have been crushed.

We first sinned against God and hurt Him, yet He forgave us. Even when it’s hard, we must forgive, because He first forgave us. Colossians 3:12-14 says, “You are God’s chosen people. You are holy and dearly loved. So put on tender mercy and kindness as if they were your clothes. Don’t be proud. Be gentle and patient. Put up with one another. Forgive one another if you are holding something against someone. Forgive, just as the Lord forgave you. And over all these good things put on love. Love holds them all together perfectly as if they were one.”

God is for everyone. He is Lord over everyone and He desires to save everyone, even those who sin against us. Romans 10:10-12, “With your heart you believe and are made right with God. With your mouth you say what you believe. And so you are saved. Scripture says, ‘The one who believes in him will never be put to shame.’ There is no difference between those who are Jews and those who are not. The same Lord is Lord of all. He richly blesses everyone who calls on him.”

Our mission is to share Jesus with all people. Matthew 28:19-20 says, “So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.”

It’s hard to keep doing the right thing, but don’t give up. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become tired of doing good. At the right time we will gather a crop if we don’t give up.”

Our future home, Heaven, has no room for racism. Revelation 7:9 says, “After this I looked, and there in front of me was a huge crowd of people. They stood in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb. There were so many that no one could count them. They came from every nation, tribe and people. That’s true no matter what language they spoke. They were wearing white robes. In their hands they were holding palm branches.”

As followers of Jesus, we must never give up on love. We can hope for a better future and we must love, even when it’s hard. 1 Corinthians says 13:4-7, “Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. It does not dishonor other people. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people’s wrongs. Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It never gives up.”

Love is an action. 1 John 3:18 says, “Dear children, don’t just talk about love. Put your love into action. Then it will truly be love.”

This is what love in action looks like. Romans 12:9-21 says, “Love must be honest and true. Hate what is evil. Hold on to what is good. Love one another deeply. Honor others more than yourselves. Stay excited about your faith as you serve the Lord. When you hope, be joyful. When you suffer, be patient. When you pray, be faithful. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Welcome others into your homes. Bless those who hurt you. Bless them, and do not curse them. Be joyful with those who are joyful. Be sad with those who are sad. Agree with one another. Don’t be proud. Be willing to be a friend of people who aren’t considered important. Don’t think that you are better than others. Don’t pay back evil with evil. Be careful to do what everyone thinks is right. If possible, live in peace with everyone. Do that as much as you can. My dear friends, don’t try to get even. Leave room for God to show his anger. It is written, ‘I am the God who judges people. I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Do just the opposite. Scripture says, ‘If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. By doing those things, you will pile up burning coals on their heads.’ Don’t let evil overcome you. Overcome evil by doing good.” How do you think the world would look if everyone lived like Paul talks about in these verses?

I’m praying for you and your family. If you found hope or encouragement in another scripture, leave it in the comments! Other families might find it useful as well.