Are You Prayed Up in These 4 Areas of your Life?

“Are you prayed up?” This question caught me off guard when I found myself complaining to my high school teacher. When I was younger, I began a Bible study with the goal of reaching my entire school for Christ. As you can imagine, progress was slow. There were times when huge crowds gathered to study and other times when there were just a handful of students. 

During a busy season, I found myself sitting alone with Mrs. Francisco waiting for someone, anyone, to show up for the lesson. When I began complaining, she cut me off and asked, “Are you prayed up?” Honestly, I wasn’t, and I found my motivations getting out of line. That evening I began talking with God about my discouragement, purpose, and motivations in leading the study. 

Throughout the years, I’ve seen God move in big ways to answer prayers from His followers. Here are a few challenges to get you prayed up in these 4 big areas of your life.

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Are you prayed up for your personal walk with God? Although this should be our top priority we often neglect our own walk with the Lord. When was the last time you cared for your own soul? When have you taken the time to build strong foundations in your relationship with Jesus? To become prayed up, you must be honest with God, sharing with Him your innermost thoughts. Thank Him for showing you true and perfect love. Ask Him to drawn near to you as you draw near to Him.

Are you prayed up for your family? 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.” Often times those who are closest to us, are those who hurt us the most. To be prayed up for our family, we must forgive any hurt and see our family as God sees them. Pray for the children in your family to learn that in obeying their parents, they obey God. Ask God to give your family patience and to show kindness to one another. Take a few minutes to pray 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 over your family.

Are you prayed up for your church? The mission of the church is to make disciples who make disciples and thus impact God’s kingdom forever! Pray bold prayers for God to use you and those in the church to make disciples. 1 John 5:14 says, “And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.” Pray for the leaders in your church and ask God to continually help each member in the church take their next step in obedience. 

Are you prayed up for your work? In Colossians 3:17, Paul says, “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Whether you are a teacher in front of a group of students, or an accountant in front of a computer screen, your job can be worship towards God each and every day. In verse 23, Paul goes on to say, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” To get prayed up, ask God to give you a heart of worship in your work. Repent for the times you have failed, and go into your job with a new heart. 

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

Challenge: Look for Opportunities to Lavishly Love the Lonely

Jesus is known to be one of the most influential leaders the world has ever seen, yet He took the time to lavishly love the lonely. He spent time with sinners, ate with tax collectors, and spoke with those who were overlooked by society. Jesus was often criticized by the religious leaders for attending parties, talking with beggars, and was known to be friends with immoral people. 

Do you find yourself looking like Jesus or more like the Pharisees who questioned Jesus for hanging out with sinners? 

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Here are 5 practical steps to help you look for opportunities to lavishly love the lonely.

1. Start your day prepared.  Zig Ziglar eloquently said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” As you start your day, ask God to direct your steps. Request Him to put you in contact with folks who need to experience His grace. Petition Him to give you eyes to see the opportunities He places before you and ask Him to give you the words that the people need to hear. 

2. Get out of your bubble. Get moving. Maybe you go for a walk around your neighborhood with the intent on talking with your neighbors. Maybe you go to the coffee shop specifically to be a friend to someone in need. Maybe you go to the grocery store, but instead of rushing down the aisles, you are intentionally looking for someone who is lonely. 

3. Fill a need. Jesus was so generous with people. He would stop to talk with people and then meet their physical, social, or spiritual needs. How can we lavishly love the lonely? Maybe with your neighbor you lavishly give your time. Instead of passing someone by to continue with your exercise, you stop and begin a relationship. Maybe when you are talking with the lonely person at the grocery store you surprise them with an offer to buy their baby diapers. 

4. Point them to Jesus. If you start your day prepared, get out of your bubble, and meet a need, but fail to point that person to Jesus, then you have become their savior. Don’t lead people to worship you, rather share with them your faith in Jesus. This can be as simple as an invitation to join you at church or maybe even an authentic invitation to ongoing discussion. Direct the conversation to Jesus and go into the friendship with a desire to see this person in Heaven. 

5. Follow up later. Don’t let this be a one and done conversation, rather look for follow up. Maybe you exchange contact information. Maybe you connect on social media or maybe you invite the person over for s’mores. If you want to lavishly love the lonely, look for opportunities to have an ongoing relationship with this person as you point them to Jesus. 

The adventure of collaborating with God involves bestowing the greatest gift a person can receive — the gift of amazing grace — on undeserving (and often unsuspecting) people like you and me. – Bill Hybels, Just Walk Across the Room: Simple Steps Pointing People to Faith

Obedience Will Always Get You To The Right Place

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6 years ago, when my wife, Nicole, and I began looking for our new home and children’s ministry the limits were the world. We didn’t feel a specific calling and with our family spread out everywhere, we were open to anything. After a lot of prayer, hard work, and seeking wise counsel we discovered Southern Hills Christian Church in Carrollton GA. On our first Sunday checking out the church, we really wanted to be a true visitor and so we snuck in under the radar. We didn’t want special treatment and it was very important to me that I worked at a church that welcomes new folks. I wanted to be able to invite a stranger at the coffee shop and know that even if we didn’t see each other at church, they would feel welcomed.

As you can guess, we loved our first visit. We experienced the church stepping out of their comfort zone to welcome us, not just the door greeters, but the average church members in the seats. When someone found out that we were looking for a new job, they prayed with us. This church leader wasn’t an elder or someone on staff this was just an average guy who went out of his way to welcome visitors. We felt an overwhelming sense that this was the place and on our way home began praying that if it wasn’t that God would shut the door.

Well, time passed, interviews came and went, and man, they went well. And I can remember it like it was yesterday. The elders asked if I had any further questions and hesitantly I explained that I had one more thing. I went on to explain that long term, my goal is that my wife and I would work for the same church. I told them about how we both had the same degree, about how we have worked together before, about how I know the difficulties that come with hiring couples but about how we have left our previous jobs well and won’t leave the church in a bad place. The elders sat in silence for a minute, a very long minute, and then one spoke up and said, “Sorry Corey, we have done this in the past, and it’s just not gonna happen.” So I did what most folks in my position would do and just cried on the inside. We wrapped up in prayer and I headed back to Nicole and filled her in on the news.

We were in a HARD spot. We knew that God wanted us a SoHills. We knew it and had so much peace about it that I really believed that if they offered the job and I didn’t take it, that I was being disobedient to God. But, what about my wife? What about our long term goals? What about the plan? We had no idea what God’s plan was for her, but she too had so much peace about it and God made it so clear to me that He had orchestrated this, that it was His plan, and if I didn’t follow, then I was choosing…to disobey…God…

So long story short. We were obedient. We took that next step that God showed us and I accepted the position. God only showed us that one step, but we obediently followed Him. Over time, Nicole kept a positive attitude and stayed obedient. Through a lot of small steps of obedience, Nicole was eventually offered a staff position. I learned a very important lesson that later my mentor Brother Jim spelled out when he said, “Obedience will always get you to the right place.” 

Is there a time in your life where you learned, “Obedience will always get you to the right place?”

This is an excerpt from my sermon from July 3rd, to hear the whole message, click here!

Why You Need To Listen To These 24 Excellent Podcasts

 

Why You Need To Listen To These 24 Excellent Podcasts

Podcasts continue to break download records year after year. With a growth in popularity and expanding options, it’s good to have an inside scoop to know what podcasts are worth your time. After daily listening to a dozen podcasts for a few years, I want to share some of my absolute favorites. Here are 24 excellent podcasts to subscribe to today!

Southern Hills Christian Church – Sunday morning services from a church making disciples who are making disciples.

Connexus Church Audio Podcast – Whether church has been part of your life or not, these 40-minute messages can help you grow in your relationship with God.

The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast – Leadership, change, and personal growth to help you lead like never before.

theClub Leadership Podcast with Jim Wideman – Designed especially for NextGen & children’s ministry as well as any leader who wants to take advantage of over 40 years of children’s and family ministry experience.

Leadership with Ryan Frank – Created to help you lead and communicate with excellence.

Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast – A conversation designed to help leaders go further, faster.

Perry Noble Leadership Podcast – For those who are ready to be challenged in their faith and stretched as leaders.

Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast – A conversation designed to help you make the most of your potential as you work to become the leader God created you to be.

The Leadership Momentum Podcast – The world’s top church leaders candidly sharing their inspiration wisdom and bold advice.

Growing Leaders Podcast – Practical advice on leading the next generation.

Chris Brown’s True Stewardship – Biblical advice and expert solutions to callers with questions on managing God’s blessings, God’s way, for God’s glory

This Is Your Life with Michael Hyatt – Intentional leadership to help you live with more passion, work with greater focus, and lead with extraordinary influence.

The ChurchLeaders Podcast – Ground-breaking conversations with today’s top ministry leaders designed to help you lead better.

5 Leadership Questions – Five questions of different guests or about different leadership topics.

ChurchMag Podcast – A candid discussion on church tech and creativity.

Youth Ministry Answers – Questions from youth ministry for youth ministers.

FourFiveSix.org – Great ideas to take your preteen ministry to the next level.

Parent Cue Live – Designed to help families do family better; featuring parenting experts.

D6 Podcast – Helping Children’s Ministers and Youth Ministers build an excellence Family Ministry.

Focus on Marriage – Timeless wisdom from Focus on the Family that will challenge and encourage you in your marriage.

Creative Sheep Podcast – Communicating God’s love through excellent content.

TED Talks – Ideas worth sharing to inspire, intrigue and stir the imagination from some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers.

The Social Media Examiner Show – A daily dose of marketing vitamin that will equip you to take your social media to an entirely new level.

The Accidental Creative – Shares how to build practical, everyday practices that will help you stay prolific, brilliant and healthy in life and work.

 

What about you?
What should I add to my list?
Is there a podcast that you listen to regularly and enjoy?

Why You Need To Create A Summer Book Club

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What if summertime was a time of growth and renewal in your family? What if instead of putting in those earbuds and dividing around the house, your family was intentional about coming together with God at the center? I believe creating a family devotion time will not only help kids grow in their faith, but also move the entire family’s faith beyond Sunday mornings.

At Southern Hills Christian Church, we have created a summer book club where families join together in developing a habit that will influence their child’s relationship with God. A summer-long commitment might seem like hard work, but families who join the summer book club see how these daily times together impact kids forever.

The format is simple, families sign up on our church web page and pay for the book for their aged kids. When we deliver their book, we give a general outline and suggestions for their family. Then throughout the summer, we provide accountability and encouragement to the families who are participating. All summer long we share stories of success and cheer families on to a successful summer. At the end of the summer, we provide some next steps for families and thank them for being the primary spiritual influence of their kids.

We look for books that will capture the attention of kids with an easy to read format. Here are some of our favorite books so far:

Case for Christ for Kids by Lee Strobel
Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado
The Action Bible Devotional by Jeremy Jones
Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Stand Up – Get in the Story by Dan Scott

Will you consider creating an opportunity for your families to come together during the summer to grow closer to one another and God? Is there a book that you would suggest we look into for next summer? And if you are a SoHills family, have you signed up?!?

A Simple Recruitment Tip That Actually Works

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Chances are you struggle to find enough leaders to serve in your church. This seems to be one of the biggest struggles organizations face and today I want to share with you a simple tip for successful enlistment. Feed your volunteers. Now before I lose you, let me clarify with some practical steps.

First, make a list of people who you would love to have on your team. Look for dads who are leading their families spiritually. Find moms who have the heart of a teacher. Find grandparents who would be willing to love kids. Write these names down and begin praying for God to work in their hearts. Remember that while Paul planted the seed and Apollos water it, it was God who caused the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6.

Next, ask those on your list if they would be willing to bring a snack or food to treat your current volunteers. Use this opportunity to share what God is doing in the ministry and how valuable this ministry team is to the kingdom. Explain how everyone on the team is working together and using their gifts to accomplish great things for God. Ask them if they will join in by treating the team to a special snack.

As they bring food, take the time to show appreciation and ask your team to express gratitude. Remind them how important the volunteers are to the success of the ministry and thank them for being a part of the big picture.

Finally, as you are returning their tray or dish, invite them to play a bigger role. Let them know the gifting you see in them and how they can use that gift for God’s kingdom.

I know this tip may seem small, but when recruitment becomes a part of everyday life you will begin to build depth in your teams!

The Person You Needed When You Were Younger

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Think back to when you were a kid. You were always reaching for the next goal and never looked back. With mixed emotions, you anticipated kindergarten, you couldn’t wait until Christmas, and your next birthday was always just around the corner.

When you started riding a tricycle, you anticipated the day you could move to a big boy bike. And then when you got the hang of things, you couldn’t wait for those training wheels to come off.

Kids move through different stages, handling different issues, and always wanting to be a little more grown up. Children don’t want to be treated like a child. And certainly the same is true for preteens.

When I was a preteen, I remember sitting in those little chairs, hearing the same Bible stories that I had heard before. A gap had formed. While I was struggling with some tough sins, I was sitting in a room hearing about Adam and Eve sinning and had no idea how it applied to my own life.

I already knew that sin was disobeying God. I already knew that Adam and Eve were the first sinners. And in fact, thinking about their story and them being naked was going to cause me to sin. I didn’t need to be taught the facts again with puppets and felt boards like I was a child.

What I needed was someone to be my friend and walk me through my personal disobedience. What I needed was to be treated as a preteen.

Read More and be Challenged by clicking: http://fourfivesix.org/the-person-you-needed-when-you-were-younger/

Blast Off! The Outer Limits

Blast OffWe are in the 6th week of the KidSpring Series Blast Off and I must say that our kids have been loving every lesson!  Throughout this series we are learning different promises of God and how they were true in the Bible, are true today, and will be true in the future!  The kids have enjoyed the crazy skits, and creative Bible teaching, and the coaches have had a lot of great conversations with the kids about the Promises of God.
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Here is the scope of what we have and will learn:
God is a promise keeper! Abraham
God Promises to watch over me! Jacob
God Promises to help me in times of trouble! Daniel
God Promises to teach me His ways! Jonah
God Promises to love me forever! Jesus and Peter
God Promises that He is in control! Out of Egypt
God Promises to hear my prayers! A Wise King
God Promises to reward me! Joseph and Brothers

The memory verse we have been focusing on is Psalm 145:13 (NLT). “For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations. The Lord always keeps His promises; He is gracious in all He does.”
IMG_2314Every Sunday at Southern Hills Christian Church in Carrollton GA looks a little different with a splash of creativity here and there. I am always excited to play a part in the kids ministry and to impact this generation for Jesus!