The Belonging Co Conference Notes #TBCOconference

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Leadership Co Notes

Henry Seeley 

It’s less about information and more about Importation. What does God want to do in our hearts? Digest this spiritually. 

Not following a list of rules or guidelines from someone else’s growth. This leads to insecure leaders. Imitate another model or blueprint. What God has done here might not work there. 

Churches in Nashville met on Sunday morning but there were a group of musicians that are gone on the weekend and need a new model. The thing that agitates you is the thing you’re often anointed for. You see that it needs to change and can change. The greatest ministry comes at the greatest cost. If you want to do something significant in the kingdom of God there is a cost. The cost is everything. You can’t have the fruit without the cost. You wouldn’t know what to do with the fruit. What people do with free stuff, they view it as worthless. 

Social media can be the absolute best and worst for us. We ask, “How do we make what we have, look like what they have?” This leads to an empty shell. What if instead we press into God and see what He has for us! Be secure in who you are and what God has called you to or else you’ll spend your life trying to live up to another person’s expectations. 

The church has operated out of insecurity. You’ll never dictate culture if you’re too busy trying to imitate it. The church try’s to do a church version of the world. We have the presence of God and the world is missing it. Why would I show up when there is something better somewhere else? Because of the presence of God. 

Don’t be afraid of doing things well. Express worship through your gifts. If the Holy Spirit says thank you for your preparation but I’m going this way. The team needs to be prepared to be u prepared. The end goal is not a service time or creative element the end goal is tuning into what God wants to do. Don’t let your plan get in the way of His presence. Don’t be offended if Holy Spirit takes the service another direction. It’s not your time. The most important thing you can do is to make space for the presence of God. 

The method is getting on your face before God. The method is in the secret place where the Spirit speaks. If you’re not dealing with your insecurities you aren’t secure enough to follow the presence of God. Your security doesn’t line in your notes. If you’re insecure and believe your security is where you lead the song then you won’t be secure enough to step into what you’re really called for. No one realizes they have insecurities. There are things God wants to do with each of us. Insecurity is a thief that will rob from you. Rob your joy, your relationships, your calling. What if we were so secure we realized we didn’t build the church but God built the church. Insecure leaders build empires, secure leaders build the kingdom. 

You are never elevated beyond serving. Jesus whole goal was to serve. Jesus didn’t talk leadership but being a servant. When we feel elevated beyond the people and do not serve the people we hurt the church. If I don’t show up to serve then I’ve lost Jesus. Have people around us who are not yes people or insecure but can come to us and point out what they are seeing. You can’t be the best leader in isolation. What sucks about this is you have to be vulnerable. The grace of God is evident in our lives when we allow others to speak into our lives. Not leading from top-down but arm in arm. No one’s position is less or greater. We understand the mandate in the position and confidently link arms and march forward. What if we realized our mandate was to build the kingdom? If someone leaves our church that’s not a backward step. 

Secure leaders know how to deal with offense and disappointment. How you deal with this will make the difference. What do you do when you have a Judas in your midst? Do you shove them out? Jesus never changed His posture with Judas. When you feel betrayed realize Jesus never shunned Judas, He invited him to the table. Jesus never lost sight of His calling and the opportunity to be brought close. There was always grace available, even to the last point. Do you spend your energy and focus on the one or two and lose sight of what you’re really called to be doing? Be a leader who knows how to love even when you’ve been offended. 

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Alex Seeley

We have a generation coming who has a growing disdain for the church. The primary wound in our society is rejection. They feel already rejected. Identity crisis is taking place. We can not do church how we always have. Jesus is the cornerstone. The essence of a pure Gospel is love. Known as disciples if we love. Love those who are resistant to our love. Love those who oppose you. Love beyond the betrayal. Love unconditionally. It’s easy to love those who are easy to love. It’s easy to love those who serve you. 

This next generation is looking for a virtual un-church. Done with coming in to receive just formation. They are done with cleaning up to be accepted. What they want is the truth in love, to call them up to what God has called them to be. Not a seeker-sensitive church but a church that attracts seekers by offering living water. Not a motivational speech but a transformation in the Holy Spirit that breaks addictions and causes transformation. 

We are in a spiritual battlefield and you need to understand what the battle looks like in your town. Don’t practice a relationship with Holy Spirit on the stage, meet Him in the quiet place. The ministry is not to build your name or platform or even to do what you feel called to do. It’s not to behave and then you can belong. True love says you have a place at the table before you believe or before you behave. 

The antidote to rejection is love. Jesus attracted every sphere of influence because His love source came from God. Have a full revelation of His love. Rejection begets more rejection. Jesus lived without agenda or need to be loved. 

This agape love that is the antidote to rejection is not encountered through intellectual or motivation but the power of the Holy Spirit and experienced in presence. 

You carry a 3 part of the Holy Spirit: Presence, Power and the Prophetic. 

Miracles, Signs, and Wonders. 

The mega-church without God’s spirit: It’s very interesting to see what man can build. 

Bring the presence of the Almighty Jesus. Not satisfied with a good program unless someone is set free and delivered. I don’t know what it is but I sense his presence. Break fear and addiction. 

Know what it is to encounter the presence of God. Not just extra songs because we try to manufacture presence. You can have His presence without the music even starting. It’s the presence you are carrying. 

Power of God moves where you can’t take credit. 

Presence is getting out of the way and following the movement of God. 

People don’t want to be entertained, they want to go home different. This is not about me providing your breakthrough but giving God time to breakthrough each individual. My words are nothing. 

Not the love for what I have to share or the love for our program but a love for the people. 

The world needs to see the opposite of what it’s currently seeing. Love those who curse you. Go the extra mile. Flip what is expected. Jesus was able to love beyond everything because He didn’t entrust everyone with His heart but He gave His full heart to God. It doesn’t say to entrust one another but to love. Love beyond the betrayal. Love even when it costs you. Do you want to be right or in right relationship? Jesus didn’t have to prove Himself. Jesus didn’t even bring his best friend, John, into the offense by talking about Judas. Love covers even when you’re going to be betrayed. The disciples didn’t know who was the betrayer because Jesus never brought anyone into that offense. Jesus loves fully. His love is pure. He called Peter to build the church and even after the offense and betrayal, He redeems. Though my trust was broken, Jesus love is so much stronger than the broken relationship. 

So why are we so hard on our people? We are called to love beyond. We can shift a generation from being offended to a saint who is called to die for the cause of Christ. Are we building churches that are prepared for persecution? You don’t die for someone you are just being entertained by. 

Q&A 

Paul Bergin

Banning Liebscher – Jesus Culture Founder 

What’s the biggest issue in the church? 

Wrong definition of success. It’s not a number but the presence of God. Creating structures that crest immature believers. American consumerism crept into the church to make things as easy as possible. Businesses eliminate struggle to gain business. When you’re a leader with insecurity you need people to show up for you to feel better. When you remove the struggle you create immature believers. There is a struggle involved in the community. 

What are we doing to respond to this struggle?

Jesus called us to lay down our lives. We are not preparing our church for persecution. We are raising children who don’t understand discipline and how to wait and therefore are offended by everything. Butterfly analogy of opening the cocoon. It will look good but it won’t fulfill its calling. The goal is growing mature people that become a large church in Jesus name. 

What would you tell your 20-year-old self?

Be more patient and not look for greener grass. When you extract yourself from something difficult you lose an opportunity for refinement. 

Slow down and focus on internal health. Make sure what’s driving you is actually healthy. 

Know when you are in a preparation session. A season of refinement. Don’t short circuit the refinement process. The enemy will take you out. 

The goal is the journey, not the destination. Have joy in the journey. Don’t keep yourself busy with the excuse of ministry. 

There’s a difference between Anointing over your life. Word over your life. Authority or appointed over your life. David has to wait. 

Meet with your team to encourage. People generally know their mistakes and failures. Atop and celebrate what God is doing. You’re worth more than what you can do here. Your value doesn’t come through your efforts. Excellence is not perfectionism. It’s giving your best to God. You’re thinking too highly of yourself if you think your successes will build the church. 

When the church is a polished performance people either see right through it or they don’t relate. 

Life is but an interruption of eternity. 

When kids are little they will jump over hurdles to get to you but when they grow up they will rarely put in the effort. 

Do your kids know they can interrupt at any point because they are more important than a ministry. 

Advice for planning a church?

Enjoy the journey. Look fondly in this season. Focus on building a culture more than a crowd. Ask, would you go to this if you weren’t leading this? Build what you would like to attend. Core values. Authenticity. Presence. You have to build a community. Be okay with unmet needs. Deep value in maturing believers. Find identity in Jesus. Fully engaged and fully alive in their calling. 

In most church planing models the launch date is the goal. You’ve got a whole life ahead to be looking forward to. 

If you have to build X ministry so people won’t leave then you’re building the church for people and not for God. 

What are you doing to engage the broader city? 

Build people. If the individual is equipped and ready then what comes out of them will engage the city. You contribute to the family you lead in the city. What’s in the hearts of your people? 

How does the church deal with people in the church who deal with homosexuality? 

Everyone is welcome in the house of God. We preach the truth to all. We don’t preach on a single sin but on bringing Jesus into the room. Jesus let the rich young ruler make the decision and didn’t chase after him. He preached the truth in love. Let the Holy Spirit do the work. 

We have a lot of grace for sins we understand but not sins that we don’t understand. This is set aside as the pet peeve sin. 

Complicated issue but not biblically complicated. Layers with laws being passed, people who don’t take the word as the final authority, people in the church who don’t think you’re correct in theology, and people experimenting. You need to know who you’re talking with. Do you allow people to serve who struggle with sin? Restore the identity of Christ. Stop identifying people by their sin. Gluten. Liar. Etc. battle in identity. Stop labeling stop identifying and love people. 

How do you seek God in the secret place? 

Drive, worship, pray. The word of God. Open the word and keep reading until God speaks. 

Constant dialog all day with Holy Spirit. Times of intercession prayer. Reading the Word. 

It’s a relationship. Some relationships are very structured and others are more rigid. You need to be coming to the Lord in this season. 

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Release of Awe and Wonder tonight!

Banning Liebscher

Prayer for Natalie – Prophet of Hope 

1 Samuel 1

God has plans and purposes for your life, for your family, for your city, for your church, and for your sphere of influence. He invites you to partner with Him to see that happen. You are most fully alive in that partnership. 

God speaks a word to Hannah. Everything changed for her. It brought her to a place of faith. God plants a seed. He wants to get us to a place of faith. John 15:7 abide in Christ and His words abide in you. Draw close to Jesus and have His words abide. 

There’s a difference between hearing a word and listening to a word. Allowing the word to abide in you. 

Pregnancy test illustration. That second line changes everything. When the word of the Lord comes it changes everything. In the natural, ready or not the baby is coming. In the spiritual side, you need to learn how to carry the word of the Lord. You need to abide and nurture the word. 

You don’t need a fresh word you need to know what to do with the one you’ve got. When you begin to learn to carry the word, faith begins to manifest in your life. 

Big bucks!

His word comes not just to encourage but to ignite the faith inside of us. Faith looks like something. 

Faith manifests in preparation. 

In the church, we complicate things Jesus made simple. Simple and homespun. By faith, Noah prepared an ark. Hebrews 11. When the Lord speaks to you, your life will be different afterward. When the Lord speaks to you, it should cause you to prepare if you believe Him. If someone says they are coming over we believe them and prepare. We believe people more than we believe in God. A lack of preparation communicates a lack of value. 

The widow and Elisha. Oil and a jar. 2 Kings 4:5-6. There is not another vessel so the oil stopped. The principle, not a law. The level of outpouring in your life is linked to your preparation. 

This is what your life should look like: Building arks and gathering vessels. If you hear a word about filling stadiums, start inviting people into your living room. Take a speaking class. What simple step can I do to prepare? 

Faith manifests in the proclamation. 

What comes out of your mouth matters. 

The power of life and death is in your tongue. How careless are you about what’s coming out of your mouth? 

Not scared but sober. To understand the power and responsibility. If you’re careless it can result in disaster. My words are either partnering with God and His plans and purposes or undermining God and His plans and purposes. 

An angel appears to Zachariah and out of his mouth unbelief comes. The angel mutes him for nine months. This isn’t a punishment but a help. 

Out of the heart, the mouth speaks. Sometimes the best thing you can do is go on mute. Unbelief is on your heart and coming out of your mouth. Unbelief is a belief in the wrong thing. Are you more connected with your circumstances than the word of the Lord?  

Faith is not acting like theirs not a mountain in front of us. Faith is saying there’s a greater reality than the mountain. There may be cancer but there’s a higher name than cancer. Connect my heart to the hire name than reality. There may be depression but there’s a hire name. This is why it’s so important to god His word in your heart. 

Are you Spirit-led or feelings led? You will be feelings led if your life is not anchored to scripture. 

What we do now, is put people in a Jesus time out. How’d it go…feelings? No, Jesus time out. What does Jesus say? 

When the word of the Lord comes you no longer have permission to say anything else. Have the discipline to stop talking when you’re not speaking His word. When God’s word is in your heart, it’s coming out of your heart. When His word is full in your heart your circumstances won’t dictate your heart. 

Shove so much word in your heart that when my life pulls up to the train stop and life tries to get in, there’s no room to get in. 

Is what’s coming out of my mouth circumstances, social media, toxic? Repent and stop allowing unbelief to come out of your heart. 

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Alex Seeley

God is not obligated to fulfill your potential. You have the responsibility to nurture the seed. 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”

Hebrews 12:1-3 NLT

Don’t lose heart. Let Jesus do the work so we can be the person he called us to be. 

Will you finish like John or Judas?

C.S. Lewis — ‘For you will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however, you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.’ 

A saint is set apart. We talk differently and look differently. The enemy will try to hinder your call, to weight you down so you don’t finish the race. 

We let our heart grow calicos. We let our heart get tangled up in things of the world. 

King Saul and King David. Both appointed. Same spirit. Both start at the age of 30. Both have a kingdom for 49 years. The difference was their heart. The one who died with honor was David. The one who took himself out of the game was Saul. The difference was their heart. 

David was far from perfect but he did say he was sorry and repented. 

“Saul replied, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?” 1 Samuel 9:21 NLT

Saul felt disqualified. He saw himself small in his own eyes. God called him big. We must believe God and take Him at His word. When God calls us we must say, “Here I am Lord.”

We can not sustain the race with a one time encounter. We have to allow God to refine us into the likeness of Christ. 

“So they asked the Lord, “Where is he?” And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.” So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else.” 1 Samuel 10:22-23 NLT

Saul was hiding behind his baggage. We need a generation that is resolved to know who they are in Christ. It doesn’t matter what your baggage is or how you feel on the inside. You must stand tall on both the inside and the outside. 

You can tell a person who carries themselves tall on the inside. God doesn’t need you a head taller on the outside. It’s not popularity. Insecurity is so prevalent in this next generation. God called you unique. God is waiting on you to arise. 

David was different. He was the 8th option. There’s one more but he’s just the youngest. There’s a reason for David to be insecure but he doesn’t come in with insecurity because of his anointing. David went back to being a shepherd because he didn’t need the title to define who he was. He was fully secure because his position in Christ is on the inside. 

David delivers sandwiches to his brothers. A secure heart just obeys. Not doing the work to be noticed but know who they are and what they are called to do. Whatever is asked of me, I will serve unto the Lord. 

Saul was given the title. 

“David left his things with the keeper of supplies and hurried out to the ranks to greet his brothers.” 1 Samuel 17:22 NLT

David left his baggage and ran to the battle lines marked out for him. David knew he was born to take down the enemy. He didn’t need a crown to act. He knew he was a king on the inside. 

We are all in a race. We give an account to God on what He called us to do. No excuses before God. I want to hear well done good and faithful SERVANT. Not well done good and faithful pastor or well done good and faithful king. 

You are in training now. We need to fight private battles before taking the stage. We want the spotlight without the testing. It’s for your good to fight private battles before public battles. Our confidence is in the Lord. It’s not arrogance to be confident in the things of God, it’s actually your responsibility. Arrogance is bent in insecurity but confidence is bathed in humility. 

So many of us waver on the opinion of man. You can listen to the option of man and shrink back or you can stand firm in God’s authority. 

The very thing you are called to do you will be attacked in. David’s brother attacked him. When you do what’s right in God’s eyes you will be attacked but when you are confident in your calling you move forward. David didn’t engage in the battle with his brother. That’s fighting the wrong battle. 

David remembered the victories of the past. Some of us remember what we should be forgetting and forget what we should be remembering. Remember when the word of the Lord is spoken. Prepare your heart. Remember God did it then and will do it again. I’m not a product of my sin, I’m a new creation and now I run the race. 

Saul saw the circumstances big. Insecurity begets insecurity and toxicity. A secure leader cheers people on because it brings glory to the Lord. 

You come with weapons of the world but I come in the name of God. No force on this earth is greater than God. Saul saw the problem and David saw God as the solution. We don’t fight with things of the world but with divine power to demolish strongholds. 

David knew how to repent. Saul only knew how to say I’ve sinned and I’m sorry. I’m sorry is when you accidentally bump someone in the elevator not when you have broken the heart of God. Repentance is the way to breakthrough. Godly sorrow that causes change. Sorry is in the moment. Look into someone’s eyes. When rebellion is in the heart they don’t look in your eyes. “Look in my eyes are their naughties in your heart.” Dear Jesus, I repent. Take the naughties out and put the good things in. Sorry is behavior modification. Sorry is a statement that doesn’t require a response. 

Godly sorry brings repentance that leads to salvation and no regret but worldly sorry brings death. 

Psalm 51:10-12

“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.”

Living in perpetual rebellion took Saul out. God would rather your obedience than your sacrifice. Half obedience is disobedience. No shortcuts. Obedience increases your authority. 

When David was corrected he asked God for a new heart. He begged God please don’t take your presence because it’s the only thing sustaining me. 

Willie Wonka leaving his legacy to a child. No one has seen the kingdom realm. Looking for a successor that he could trust his dream with. One was entitled one wanted to be famous. One was rebellious. But Charlie who was the least likely to be picked and the one who broke the rules and tried to hide it. The other children took themselves out. They broke the rules. They signed a contract. They were given a gobstopper but it was a test to see the heart. Charlie gave up his opportunity to be rich and gave his gobstopper. So shines a good deed in a weary world. You did what was right so it’s all yours. 

Banning Liebscher 

God’s heart for you is to be fully alive and fully free. The job description of Jesus is giving life to the full. The enemy wants you in bondage. His primary weapon of choice is lies. Lies to separate you from the truth. Connect to truth equals freedom. Lies separate and lead to bondage. 

“so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:11 NLT

1 Kings 19 Elijah coming off Mt Carmel. After this great victory, he then begins lies. 

3 lies we still wrestle with today: 

He believed the lie that God abandoned him. Not that he became a full-blown atheist but a situational atheist. God is not in this situation. God has the whole world in his hands but not this situation. God exists just not in our finances or marriage. 

He believed the lie that the situation was hopeless. Elijah sat down. He stopped moving forward. 

He believed the lie that he was all alone. That there were no more people with him. 

How is it that Elijah a man of God is believing God and then the next moment is believing a lie. A profound victory with a whole nation turning back to God and then believes lies. The enemy is looking for a foothold to place a lie. 

Elijah was worn down and worn out and dropped his guard. When you’re worn out you drop your guard and the enemy steps in with a foothold. Boxing 101. Touch their head to keep their guard. The enemy is trying to get you to drop your guard for just a second. 

Above all else, guard your heart. Everything you do flows from it. The enemy wants you to drop your guard. He will plant lies that take root. 

Combat medics. 

Care under fire. Care at the scene where both under hostile fire. Tourniquet on major bleed. Quickly assess what matters. You could be fixing his shoulder when he’s bleeding out. Assess quickly the major bleeds. You can deal with other things later but above all else right now guard your heart. When going through difficult times guard your heart. Don’t allow the enemy to gain access with lies. 

When we are worn down we drop the guard. Sometimes a lot is coming at us. A cat on the u-haul season. A lot of stuff happening right now. 

Sometimes we drop our guard because we think a season is going to be over but it’s not over. In boxing, they prepare for 5 rounds but it goes 7 and they are not prepared for the later rounds. 

Sometimes you drop your guard because you just keep getting hit in the same place. When it rains it pours. 

We have to get a lot better at figuring out what we are believing. Lies operate in darkness. They get power in the shadows. Do we stop long enough to check under the house? What’s going on in my eternal world? 

How do you keep your guard up in life?

Don’t underestimate the power of a meal and a nap. 

God’s going to meet face to face with Elijah but he provided a meal and a nap. The physical and spiritual are connected. Figure out what your meal and a nap is. If you’re worn out you don’t need to fast. You don’t need to get up early and pray. You need a nap. Elijah believed lies because he’s tired. 

Always keep one foot in the water. 

Navy Seals thrive in the water when others can’t. America special forces book. Sea, Air, Land. If I can retreat to water, it’s where I’m most comfortable and confident. The enemy can’t follow me into water. Water is where I thrive and where you die. In the presence of God, you must retreat. I may feel powerless here but in the presence of God, I have oxygen and lies die. Retreat to the presence. In the presence is joy and strength. I feel weak here but in Christ I have joy. You have to have a default mode to retreat to the presence of God. You can find his presence anywhere at any time. Turn your heart and affections to God. In your presence, lies and discouragement dies. 

Who you show up with matters. 

Elijah has a servant with him who he left and went a days journey to complain about being alone. Pity parties are a party of one. Our guard drops when we disconnect from the community. Who you show up with matters. It’s just me and Jesus when it comes to salvation but after walking through that door he introduces you to your family. “We’ve given it our best and it’s just not working.” Giving it your best is not enough, it’s not healthy. My marriage has health and blessing not because I brought my best but because I got the best of others and brought it in. We are strong because who you show up with matters. I may get whooped once but why would I show up again when I’ve got friends. Make phone calls and don’t go at it alone. The most discouraged people are those who get isolated. Our guard drops when we disconnect from community. Those alone are wide open to deception and the devil gets a foothold. Community matters. 

Toby Mac

A story and the integrity to back it up. 

The edge of your seat posture. Today I GET to…

It has to be a priority when small or it won’t be a priority when big. Be faithful with the little things. 

A gift God gave me to turn eyes to him. 

Building a team. Pray, “God will you surround me with people who love you more than I do so that I can be inspired by them and grow.” 

It’s our job to empower others and let them thrive. Step into the mirror. I can’t do this. I’m not strong enough but God has given me you, the secret sauce. 

Not just a Christian but someone who loves the Lord. If you dare to call Him your Lord there’s only one position for you and that’s a servant. Servants main job is to wait on the Lord’s request. When you hear it, act. 

Nate and Joanna Lampa

When you love someone you fall in love with what they love. Where is God looking? What matters to God matters to you. 

God loves the wild ones and the church needs them. 

When you approach the broken and marginalized remember God is already there. 

God loves you right where you are at. 

Write your whole life in one sentence. 

Ryan Lampa

Without a true north, it’s really hard to navigate. 

Is your five dollar program going to take away my depression or addictions? No. I just want to be your friend. 

God, I’m missing something. Will you just show me how to love? 

There’s only one tried and true way to help someone in the margins. Introduce them to the creator. 

The scale at which you do these things. Don’t start with building a nonprofit. Start by feeding one two or three. Don’t start a board of directors, grab your friends. 

Feed the hungry. Drinks to the thirst. Clothes to those who need clothes. Welcome strangers. 

In obeying these statutes, remember Jesus prayer for all of us. Be as intimate with each other as God is with His father. 

When you focus on things of the spirit the things of the world fall away. 

The blood of the lamb and the word of your testimony. 

Danny Gokey

Make space for God in your heart. It starts with a hunger. What do you need to release to make room for God? 

Some of the best things that can happen in your life is a shut door. 

Failure to a believer is really transition. God uses it. 

Are you hungry and available? 

Better than I found it. 

If our public life doesn’t match our public life it will all come crashing down. 

Mark Maxwell

Your mission field isn’t just on the other side of the world, it’s feet from your house. Be expectant for God to move each and every day. 

What is your definition of success? 

Networking kills. Young artist lose focus. False indicator of success. Contradicts the creator who is all about giving and not taking. Whoever wants to be great must be a servant. 

Serving is where you are successful. 

Anybody can be great because anybody can serve. Martin Luther King. 

Serving erases the fear of failure.

Serving creates a sense of purpose. 

Serving creates value for you and others. 

Serving creates a provision. 

Serving changes the world because it changes others. 

The world call is karma, the Bible calls it planting and harvesting.

Life moves pretty fast. Don’t miss the moments. 

Psalm 90. Redeem the time. Make every conversation count. 

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Robert Madu

Do you have an expectation to hear God’s word? Someone once said this was the best message you ever preached but maybe this was just the best message you ever listened to.

Mark 5:21-43

Almost titles this message ”Get Up” but because of verse 40-41 ”Get Out”

“The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying.” Mark 5:40 NLT

You know those people who light up a room when they leave the room. 

Jesus made them all leave. He kicked them out. Those who laughed, He kicked out. 

What if the power of the miracle isn’t just in the miracle itself but in the atmosphere of the environment. Check your environment and tell some things to get out. 

Once you peel back the layers you see that none of us live in the autonomy of me, myself, and I. We are connected. 

You do you and I do me doesn’t work. You doing you affects me. 

These two stories of Jairus and the woman suffering from blood are connected. He is a ruler in the synagogues she isn’t even allowed in. He is rich and she is broke. He is named and respected. She is not. They are both hit with something neither of them can’t handle. 

When you can’t handle it, throw up your hands and know that surely He can handle it. 

They both had to push people away do get to Jesus. Do something they didn’t have to do before to get something they have never received. You want God to show up like Amazon prime but sometimes you have to push something out of the way. They are pushing because desperate people do desperate things. 

God will often use desperation to push you into your destiny. Desperation is the door that breakthrough walks through. Desperation brought them both to the feet of Jesus. 

Jairus is desperate because his daughter IS dying. The 12-year-old dying daughter and the woman was bleeding for 12 years. If this were a movie both would walk out of the hospital very differently. In life, you can be so preoccupied with your promise or problems that you are oblivious to others. You need to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Romans 12. 

”Biblical Blues Clues” 12

Jacob had 12 sons

12 tribes of Israel 

A breastplate with 12 stones on the priest

Jesus taught in the temple at the age of 12

Jesus chose 12 disciples

The number of Gods power and authority. 

Everything is under the power and authority of Jesus. He can handle whatever the world is throwing at you. 

It is your awareness of Gids authority in your life that will determine what you receive from Him. Tie your faith to the anchor of God’s authority. You need an awareness of God’s authority. He is the ultimate authority. 

Jesus calming the storm. They marveled at His authority and said you of little faith. They shouldn’t have woken Jesus up they should have curled up and taken a nap with confidence in His authority. An awareness of His authority problem. 

When you trust God as the authority you can sleep at night because He’s in charge. 

Jairus got a house call from Jesus because he was aware of Gods authority. The woman knew Jesus authority and knew she only needed to touch His coat. 

The centurion soldier knew Jesus had authority without even showing up. He knew God’s power. 

”You don’t have a faith problem, you have an awareness of God’s authority issue.”

If you don’t believe the speaker has authority you doubt their word. Example of customer service, can I speak to your manager. Can I speak to has the power to change the situation? 

I hope you get so annoyed when the devil is messing with you and your family and say that you need to speak to the one who is in charge. The one with authority. 

The moment she touched the hem of His garment she was healed. This interruption comes after being filled with the joy when Jesus says He will go to Jairus daughter. This was an emergency and Jairus was waiting on Jesus. The woman broke the law by being unclean and touching Jesus. Jesus stops and talks to her. Jairus is waiting. She told him the whole story. Jairus is waiting. He watched her get her miracle and waited. 

What do you do when you watch someone get a miracle while you are waiting on a miracle. Celebrate. Don’t be jealous. Know God is still in the blessing business. He did it for them and He can do it for me. Not always in the same way. Stop comparing yourself to other people. 

Jairus wanted healing and got a resurrection. But remember what he had to go through. His daughter died. They came and said it was time to quit and give up on the dream God gave them. Watch out for these people. 

Jesus says don’t be afraid just believe. Don’t stay here, it’s not over till I say it is. Sometimes God will let it go from bad to worse so that you stop trying to lead God and allow Him to lead you.

They arrived at the house and the people laughed. Jesus said to get out. Say to your insecurity to get out. 

Darrell Johnson

Ephesians 1:3 ”Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

The role of preaching in a worship service is to explain to the people what they just experienced. 

Through worship, we participate in the mystery. Worship if the living God does not begin with us and it does not end with us. 

To enter into a worship service here on earth is to join in on a worship service already taking place in heaven. Things are not what they seem. 

Loved ones didn’t pass away, they passed through. 

The question is not what did I get out of it. The question is did I enter into the worship already in progress. 

“It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple.” Isaiah 6:1 NLT 740bc. 

“Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” Isaiah 6:2-3 NLT

“Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before spoke to me like a trumpet blast. The voice said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.” And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it.

Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty— the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.” Revelation 4:1-2, 8 NLT

From Isaiah to Revelation something changed. 740BC To 92AD something changed. 

What is the same and what is different between these two passages? The difference is what makes Christian worship Christian. 

What’s the same?

Both have the same thrown. 

The throne is occupied. 

The king’s death bright fear. Christian persecution brings fear. 

The rise and fall of empires. When all other thrones disintegrate this throne remains. 

Holy, holy, holy. Same song. 

Creatures with six wings attend to the throne. 

Worship

What’s different?

24 other thrones. The living God brings 24 others in 2×12. The fulfillment of Jesus promises you will reign with me. The capital T throne is not toppled and neither are the lower case t thrones. The gates of hell will not prevail. 

6 wings and with two wings cover their faces. Unable to handle the presence of God. Later no mention of covering faces and they are full of eyes. Now they can behold holiness. Now they can stand in the presence of holiness. 

In the middle of the throne a lamb. In the middle of the one holy one who sits on the throne is a lamb as if slain. 

Something has been changed for creation to be in the presence of God. No longer hiding their faces but opening their eyes and looking at the lamb of God. It was woe is me and now it’s worthy is the lamb. Jesus is worthy because He made it possible for me to be there. 

Grace greater than all our sin. In the middle of all that holiness is the lamb calling you in. 

Not woes is me but worthy is He. 

You are not the point in worship. It’s not what you got out of it. Did I realize Jesus is at the center of it all and did I cry out to Him who isn’t the center of it all? 

Paul Bergin 

When the atmosphere changes and a mighty wind blows in there is something of a new birth of the Spirit of God. 

“At the Lord’s command, the whole community of Israel left the wilderness of Sin and moved from place to place. Eventually they camped at Rephidim, but there was no water there for the people to drink. So once more the people complained against Moses. “Give us water to drink!” they demanded. “Quiet!” Moses replied. “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the Lord?” Exodus 17:1-2 NLT

“Moses named the place Massah (which means “test”) and Meribah (which means “arguing”) because the people of Israel argued with Moses and tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord here with us or not?” Exodus 17:7 NLT

“In the first month of the year, the whole community of Israel arrived in the wilderness of Zin and camped at Kadesh. While they were there, Miriam died and was buried. There was no water for the people to drink at that place, so they rebelled against Moses and Aaron.

Moses and Aaron turned away from the people and went to the entrance of the Tabernacle, where they fell face down on the ground. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to them,

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” This place was known as the waters of Meribah (which means “arguing”) because there the people of Israel argued with the Lord, and there he demonstrated his holiness among them.” Numbers 20:1-2, 6, 12-13 NLT

What is the same and what is different? 

God is saying to His people He will provide all their needs in a barren land. 

If you’re in a wilderness season remember that  God provides living water. 

In numbers 20, it’s the same water, the same rock but a different generation that has not known what it means to live in captivity. 

The difference now is you are to speak to the rock. 

As a teenager, a raging torrent came from his belly and put his mouth in a knot of words that poured out for hours. 

Holy Spirit is in us, with us, and wants to move through us. 

We have a popularity preaching contest. It’s not about being on the stage and entertaining. 

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” Romans 8:26 NLT

When you don’t know what to pray for you have an interceder. Interceding through you and in you. You are not left to your self. You are not hopeless. You don’t have all the answers but the person of the Holy Spirit does. 

The Holy Spirit because He is The One and Only. 

Pray, ”Holy Spirit, what should I do?”

Water came out of the second rock even though it wasn’t the will of God. 

Isn’t it funny that when we ask the Holy Spirit He helps us? He’s trying out for someone to partner with Him. 

“I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 NLT

This is the rock of Christ being revealed in the new covenant. The church needs to see something now. They are being filled with living waters. 

Went from glorious moment to disobedience. Unbelief is at the heart of it. You didn’t sanctify me as Holy. You didn’t show me as one set apart. God isn’t glorified. 

Moses wasn’t just ticked off with the people he was offended by God. Don’t run to people but fall on your face before God. 

The power is in you. You don’t need to strike the rock twice. 

Jesus died once and once for all. His death and resurrection is enough to accomplish all. His blood is enough for me. Your issue is not bigger than the blood of Christ. It’s resurrection power. Know what the blood does over your life. The Spirit always follows the word. If you’ve seen the father you’ve seen me. If you don’t know the word you are walking around powerless. Where is the ability to get the job done? This is the age of anxiety. Let this be the age of peace. It’s not the will of God that you live in fear. 

Speak to the rock. Speak to the Spirit. Talk with your partner and co-laborer. The enemy is no match. 

Psalm 23. This is a warfare passage. 

The Lord prepares the table. 

It’s easy to think that you host Him. That you serve Him. 

Turn the affection of your heart to God. 

He invites you into Him. He is the host and invites you into communion with the Holy Spirit. He prepares the table. Jesus says welcome. You don’t have to worry or fear because the Spirit prepares the table in the presence of your enemy. 

Crucified with Christ means your fears have died. You don’t care about looking foolish. 

Why ask for God to show up? He’s there and never leaves. 

“Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)” John 7:38-39 NLT

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It’s Personal AND Starting Now Book Reviews and Giveaways

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5 Questions You Should Answer to Give Every Child and Teenager Hope

What if knowing the answers to five simple questions could give a kid hope? Orange has released a new book called “It’s Personal”, for leaders and volunteers, exploring those five questions through the lens of Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus.

In a generation where too many kids feel invisible and ignored, you may be the best chance a kid has to really feel known. 

“Jesus never got so busy trying to save everyone that He didn’t stop to help someone.” – Reggie Joiner

Jesus was on the most important mission anyone has ever been called to yet he stopped to talk with a tax collector and shared a meal in his house. This book has helped me to slow down and love people how Jesus loves people. Jump in a hammock, open the book and allow Jesus to convict you on how you might be approaching ministry.

For a FREE sample: https://thnkor.ng/ItsPersonal

To enter to win a copy: https://kingsumo.com/g/3tttyr/its-personal-starting-now-giveaway 

Find it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Tl6Scy 

orange-line

Starting Now: A 30-Day Guide to Becoming Who You Want to Be in College

College is hard. This book can help. Give the incoming college freshman in your life this guide to help them become WHO they want to be after high school.

In college they’re not kids, but they’re not quite adults, either. They still need guidance and support as they navigate the tricky transition to adulthood. Be on their team!

“Becoming WHO you want to be is something you can make a decision to do every. single. day.” – StartingNow

Even attending a Christian University while knowing my calling was hard. I can’t even imagine trying to figure things out in this day and age. Starting Now is a devotional every college student needs as they step out and begin this new journey!

For a FREE sample: http://bit.ly/2XSfRY7

To enter to win a copy: https://kingsumo.com/g/3tttyr/its-personal-starting-now-giveaway 

Find it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/31vkswK

#ItsPersonal #StartingNow #thinkorange #leadsmall #leadership #kidmin #youthmin

4 Fundamental Questions to Improve Your Faithfulness

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If you ask someone who sleeps in on Sunday morning why they avoid church, many will point to the hypocrisy or lack of faithfulness in church members. Are you part of the problem? Here are 4 questions for you to reflect on as you work on growing the fruit of faithfulness.

Are you faithful to God? When no one is looking, are you still committed to being trustworthy? If no one were to ever find out, would you still walk the right path? In John 14:23, Jesus says, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.” Being faithful to God means walking by the Spirit even when the flesh is telling you something different. Galatians 5:16 says, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.”

Are you faithful to making disciples? Jesus called us to love God and love others. How are you doing at pointing everyone in your life to Jesus? James 1:22 speaks truth when it says, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” Are you applying what you learn? Are you faithful with the calling God has placed on your life? 2 Timothy 2:2 says, “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.”

Are you faithful in your stewardship? Who or what is the lord of your life? Are you being a good manager of what God has given to you? Do you work as if you are working for the Lord? In the parable of the three servants, Jesus describes faithful stewardship when He said, “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’” (Matthew 25:21). And Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.”

Are you faithful in your relationships? Do you honor God in the way you treat those closest to you? Are you working and living for the Lord? Colossians 3:18-23 addresses the family when it says:

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged. Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” Which area do you need to focus on as we start a new week?

Don’t be Afraid of Doubt, Embrace It

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How do you react when your child or friend expresses doubt? Do you see this as a step in the disciple-making process or does your heart sink and fear take over?

During the week after Easter in our elementary and preteen services, we took a look at how Thomas wrestled with doubt. Through this story we can see how asking questions is a great thing. Asking questions can lead to understanding, which can lead to knowledge, which can lead to more questions, understanding, and knowledge. As you are walking someone through the discipleship process remember these truths from Thomas.

Thomas expressed his doubt. When the disciples told Thomas they had seen Jesus, he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side” (John 20:25). Thomas had doubts and questions about what the disciples were saying they saw but he didn’t keep those doubts hidden. When someone is open and honest with you, celebrate their honesty and the fact that they are seeking to understand.

Doubt isn’t toxic to faith; unexpressed doubt is. – Kara Powell

Not all questions are answered right away. “Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them” (John 20:26). I’m sure Thomas would have loved to see Jesus walk in the room seconds after expressing his doubt, but he wrestled for eight days! Can you imagine being in Thomas’ shoes? Eight days of all your closest friends celebrating while you question. Eight days of wondering if the past couple years were a complete waste. Eight days of wondering if you would be arrested next because you followed some dead guy.

Jesus loves Thomas even in His doubt. Jesus didn’t reply to Thomas with anger, rather He offered proof and answers to his questions.

The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” He said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” John 20, 26b-27

Let’s stop viewing doubt or questions as the enemy to disciple-making. Instead, let’s celebrate when someone you love is expressing their doubts and opening themselves up to understanding and knowledge. Above all, let’s respond like Jesus and show love to all people.

Sure You Can, But Should You?

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The phrase, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” can be applied to so many areas of life. Just because I can eat ice cream for breakfast, doesn’t mean I should. Just because I can stay up all night watching Netflix, doesn’t mean I should. Just because I can buy that shiny new thing, doesn’t mean I should. We might have the right to do something, but that doesn’t make it right.

If you have attended a Southern Hills service, you have probably heard someone mention Galatians 2:20:

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

As a Christ follower, we are called to crucify ourselves and our desires for the sake of the Gospel. We ought to give up our rights and demonstrate it’s no longer about us and what makes us happy, but it’s about honoring God with our lives. Is there an area in your life where you need to lay down what you believe are your rights for the sake of Christ?

RIGHT TO HAVE MORE. You worked hard, you saved up, and you might have the right to upgrade your TV, but that doesn’t mean you should. The writer of Hebrews challenged us saying, “Don’t be controlled by love for money. Be happy with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5). When spending money, it’s important to check your motive. Are you honoring God with your spending? Do you need to lay down your rights for the sake of something greater?

RIGHT TO BE RIGHT. You know where you stand on the issue, and even have the facts to back it up. You might have the right to try and win the fight or make that post on Facebook, but that doesn’t mean you should.

Don’t do anything only to get ahead. Don’t do it because you are proud. Instead, be humble. Value others more than yourselves. None of you should look out just for your own good. Each of you should also look out for the good of others. – Philippians 2:3-4

There are times where correction or a loving rebuke is necessary but is your heart doing what is best for the other person or are you holding onto your rights? Is it for their good or so you can feel good? Remember Colossians 3:13: “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

RIGHT TO BE COMFORTABLE. You had a long day and just want to come home to a peaceful house. You might have the right to do what makes you happy, but that doesn’t mean you should. Loving your family often means laying down your right to comfort and showing love through your actions.

We know what love is because Jesus Christ gave his life for us. So we should give our lives for our brothers and sisters. Suppose someone sees a brother or sister in need and is able to help them. And suppose that person doesn’t take pity on these needy people. Then how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, don’t just talk about love. Put your love into action. Then it will truly be love. – 1 John 3:16-18

If my old self has been crucified with Christ, then I’m a dead man walking and dead men have no rights. What rights do you need to crucify for the sake of Christ? The old hymn says:

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small.
Child of weakness, watch and pray.
Find in Me thine all in all.”
Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe;
sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

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.

An Exciting Battle to Quickly Strengthen Small Groups

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Do you host an event built on small groups where both the students and the leaders are excited to be there? Do you leverage this event to build the weekend services and draw small groups closer, or is your event one and done? Each year we host a Turf War, which is a sure-fire event to quickly strengthen the small groups in our ministry. If you want to create a competitive event the students will become obsessed with there are a few things you need to consider. 

Before Launching Determine Your Battle

You are going to want to create a game or activity where small groups can compete against each other. This should be something that will be attractive to both the boys and the girls in your ministry. We have played game like “Capture the Hair Product” which is a mashup between multi-team Capture the Flag and a hairstyle contest, “Funnoodles” which is an Olympics style battle using pool noodles in each competition, and “Triangulation” which is an innovative game of 18 simultaneous activities to earn points for your small group. Before launching and advertising your Turf War determine which game you will be playing but keep the actual game confidential to build excitement.  

As You Introduce Turf War Build Energy

Don’t make the announcements informative but rather use your stage time to build competition. We place a graphic on the screen that reveals that important information and team colors and our host will rile up the competition by talking about how the blue team will annihilate the red team. The host reminds the kids that the bigger teams will have an advantage and to start bringing their friends each Sunday to grow their team. We never reveal the actual battle between the small groups but we might give clues to build excitement. 

Leading Up To The Event

There are so many opportunities to take advantage of prior to the day of the event. You can begin rewarding bonus points towards the turf war. Maybe you see students helping with putting away chairs and want to reward them, just give their small group Turf War Points. Or when students compete in an on-stage game instead of giving them a physical prize you could give their small group bonus points. The week before the event you could even tell the kids to come dressed in their small group color and award points for those who participated. To track our points and display them live in services we used the “Color Wars” presentation from DYM’s Sidekick App. 

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Bottom Line – Small Groups have something to look forward to together and the event builds such a strong community. Take my advice and look for an innovative way to build and strengthen your small groups. If you have an idea for a future game that could be used for a Turf War, leave it in the comments!

What Question Does Jesus Have For You?

Have you ever asked a question for the purpose of teaching a lesson? Maybe you ask, “How many slices of pizza did you eat?” because you know your child is about to get sick. Or maybe, “Why do you think it turned out that way?” because you want your friend to think of making a better choice in the future. Jesus was the wisest question asker and often His questions would cut deep to the core issues at hand.

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In John 21:15 Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” Jesus asked Peter if he agape loved him, which refers to the highest form of love, a selfless love which puts others first. This question would have cut deep for Peter because he knows earlier he had denied even knowing Jesus. Peter responds saying he phileo loves Jesus, or another way of putting it is he loves Jesus like a brother. And Jesus responds by telling him to feed His lambs.

Jesus doesn’t allow Peter off the hook though, and He asks him two more times. Three times, the Savior of the Universe asked Peter if he loved Him and then challenged Peter to feed and take care of His sheep. Jesus was using this question to encourage and restore Peter from someone who denied Him to someone who would lead the church. Jesus was re-commissioning Peter to boldly take on the mission of disciple-making.

I can’t help but read this account and think about the questions Jesus might ask people today to re-commission them for making disciples. Maybe Jesus would ask you, “How much time did you spend watching Netflix today?” Jesus might ask, “Do you think more about what you will eat for lunch than inviting your coworker to know Me?” Or maybe Jesus would ask, “Why are those Instagram likes so important to you?” And none of these questions would be condemning but rather questions to help us refocus on the most important thing.

In John 21 we see Jesus restored Peter’s identity as a disciple-maker and He is ready to do the same for you today. Take a minute, get rid of distractions, and listen to the questions Jesus might be placing on your heart to restore you.

Book Review & 2 Book Giveaway- Caught In Between by Dan Scott

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Are your preteens getting lost in the transition from childhood to adolescence? What if you could stop losing kids and instead engage them through a preteen environment intentionally designed to help them own their faith? What if your environment offered preteens the tools they need to move forward with their faith into adulthood? 

In Caught In Between: Engage Your Preteens Before They Check Out, Dan Scott shows readers how preteens think. Their brains are changing, they face school stress, extracurriculars are demanding their time, and all the while they are being bombarded by digital media. In the midst of this chaos, the church can be either a place that feels irrelevant or a place that adapts to fit their needs. 

This book is a practical resource to help you rethink preteen ministry. In our teaching, Dan challenges us to think, “How does what we share impact the rest of their week?” He shows us, “Our job is to move preteens from learning facts about the Bible to finding themselves in the Bible.” And he explains, “Our goal is to emphasize how the Bible relates to today while honoring why the passage was written in the first place. 

After giving us insight into the world of a preteen, Dan shows readers how to plan, prepare, and launch a preteen ministry and then he offers worksheets and checklists to keep you on track. Caught in Between is a resource for pastors and volunteers who desire to build a strong preteen ministry in their church. 

To buy your copy, just click the link: Caught In Between: Engage Your Preteens Before They Check Out.

To be entered to win a copy, just share this blog post and tag me (@coreyrayjones) and I’ll be mailing out two copies within the next 10 days. 

3 Practical Ways to Build a Legacy to Last

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All good men and women must take responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine. – Jim Rohn

What is your personal legacy? Or to phrase it another way, if today was your last day, how would your kids and those closest to you remember you? If you want a legacy worth remembering, it requires being intentional. If you want to be thought of as more than a sports fan, then take time today to build a legacy worthy of the calling God has placed on your life.

If you want to build a legacy, share your testimony. Do your kids know what your life was like before Christ? Do they know the difference Jesus has made for you personally? I recently asked the preteens and there was only one student in the room who knew their parent’s testimony. Mark your calendar right now and make it a priority to share your story with your kids.

If you want to build a legacy, celebrate milestones. Days turn into weeks and weeks become years. Before you blink, your kids will be graduated and moving out. Celebrate  milestones by stepping back as a family and creating memorable moments centered around Christ. Important milestones that build a lasting legacy include things like family dedication, salvation and baptisms, preparing for adolescence, commitments to purity, rite of passages like getting a drivers license and being allowed to stay home alone, high school graduation, and experiencing life in Christ. For more information on celebrating milestones, click here.

If you want to build a legacy, create faith talks. A faith talk is when you pause the TV, lean into your kids, and share your faith using the moment just shared on the screen. A faith talk is when you ask your kids how their day was and then remind them how the Word of God can speak to their problems. A faith talk is when you connect God into everyday life. These faith talks may revolve around silly things like finding a parking space or big things where life seems to be falling apart like the death of a loved one. Faith talks can last mere seconds, but will build a lasting legacy in the hearts of your kids.

Following these three examples will create a lasting spiritual legacy in the lives of your children. Don’t allow the urgent tasks to crowd out the most important things. Pause today to take a step in the right direction.