Everyday Jesus

Tony Myles —  April 11, 2014 — Leave a comment

God is a part of our everyday lives more than we realize.

And when I say “everyday lives,” I mean that in its simplest, most plainest terms.

What makes God great isn’t just that he cares enough about great things to enter into them… but that he cares enough about small things to enter into them, too.

cell-phoneAuthor and teacher Dallas Willard wrote about this aspect of Jesus in his book The Divine Conspiracy:

“If he were to come today as he did then, he could carry out his mission through most any decent and useful occupation. He could be a clerk or accountant in a hardware store, a computer repairman, a banker, an editor, doctor, waiter, teacher, farmhand, lab technician, or construction worker. He could have run a housecleaning service or repair automobiles.

In other words, if he were to come today he could very well do what you do.

He could very well live in your apartment or house, hold down your job, have your education and life prospects, and live within your family surroundings and time. None of this would be the least hindrance to the eternal kind of life that was his by nature and becomes available to us through him.”

How about it?

  • In what ways is God a part of the most dirt-level, common part of your life, right now?
  • In what ways might you need to pause and thank Him for that?

 

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A couple of weeks ago I turned to find my 6th grade daughter with her fingers in her ears as I answered the question of one of my students in our small group. We were having a night, well actually a series, on “the talk.” It had turned into an eight week series, on “Marriage, Dating and Sex.” This particular night there were a lot of questions about all things “sex.” My daughter was responding by hiding. I, however, was not phased by her reaction as there was a part of me that wanted to handle the conversation the same way.

Let’s face it. We can’t all be Craig Gross, founder of XXXchurch.com and author of several Simply titles on the topic of sex. For some of us, this topic is entirely uncomfortable. Even if you think you have a handle on it, chances are there is going to be something at some point that makes you squirm. No, not about what the Bible says, that part it relatively easy to navigate. We want our students to have “God’s best,” and that’s why we know we need to discuss it. Yet, when the questions come it can be down right scary. (Believe me, I have had some really truly “special” topics come my way.) Sometimes I think they ask just to see if they can shock us. Other times they really want to ask someone they trust.

It’s not a question of, “Do we have the sex talk?” It’s more. When it all goes awkward, what do we do?

Communicate With Parents:

Before you head into these waters of this particular topic, make sure parents know the dates you will be talking “sex” especially. On the one hand, some may decide they don’t want their child as a part of the topic and that is their choice. Make sure you let them know that you are not going to replace them in any way. This is an additional place to have these conversations. After the difficult conversations, let them know an example of some things that you talked about. Avoid reporting things like, “Your child asked this.”  Instead, say something like, “These were some of the questions that were asked, and this is how we responded.” I can only imagine my 6th grader coming home to tell me she spent an hour with her fingers in her ears. I wouldn’t know what to think.

Don’t Be Afraid To Blush:

I tell students when we start on the topic of sex that I won’t know all the answers. I will blush, and I might stammer a little. I have been married 16 years and sometimes this still makes me blush. I let them know that giggles are alright. We laugh when we don’t know what else to say. We aren’t going to get out of control, and we aren’t going to ask things that are totally outlandish just to see if that will make me squirm. I will attempt to answer anything, but it has to be a “real” pondering.

What Have YOU Done?

Inevitably our students want to know OUR story. It is really up to you, in what you want to tell them. I do think what they are looking for is, “Have you ever struggled with your body wanting something it can’t have right now?”  If you have a “sorted” past, they will want ALL the details. DON’T. It’s not the point. I highly recommend in these situations using the phrase, “There are some decisions I wish I had made differently.”

Don’t Forget Marriage:

Our society today does a miserable job of showing God’s picture for marriage. In television, movies, magazines, music and just about everywhere else, sex is an action of only the body. Marriage in our society seems broken. Many of our students are growing up with bad or even NO representatives of what a marriage grounded in Christ looks like. In answering these questions, don’t ever forget to start with God’s best plan in mind. It’s not about purity- then dating and finally marriage. Marriage was the plan from the Garden. Help them see that.

I once had a student say to me, “I could never talk to my parents about this stuff so I have to go to my friends.” When I suggested maybe his friends were not always the best source for information, he balked then followed with, “I guess sometimes I do need to hear from another adult.” Our students sometimes need us to be a voice they trust no matter if we blush…just not with our fingers in our ears.

How do you navigate these “blush worthy” conversations?

Leneita / @leneitafix



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I am a ProPresenter user. It is robust and meets all my needs, but it comes with a pretty steep price. If your church owns a site license, ask them for the download code, otherwise it will cost your budget $399. If you are looking for a more affordable option and you have “been there done that” with PowerPoint and Keynote I recommend you try Prezi. I have always liked the idea of using Prezi. It is visually pleasing and pretty easy to use.

When I needed to be mobile with my presentations (meaning I had to use my iPhone or iPad) I use Apple’s Keynote, it was inexpensive, easy to edit “on the go,” and bonus…there was an iOS remote app. I will be giving Prezi a shot at a couple “on the go” presentations now…Why now?

Well, I just noticed (not sure when they had the official update) that Prezi has finally added an iPad edit/create feature with templates. Previous versions were only viewers, you could only play presentations that were created on your computer. Now I can create a presentation from start to finish directly on my iPad. It is easier to navigate and create from a computer, but if I need to correct a misspelllllingg or need to add a slide I can fix it from my iPad. By the way, Prezi is FREE.

Brandon
@uthguy9

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Thanks for loving and worshiping with your students!

Amber / @youthministry



This morning I had to do something I hate—again. I had to tell my 15-year-old daughter Lucy, who survived a school shooting almost four months ago, about another act of school violence. By now you likely know that a sophomore at a Pittsburgh-area school stabbed 20 of his classmates before he was stopped and captured. If you missed it, you can read about it here. As I write, many of those kids from Franklin Regional High School are in surgery, with doctors racing the clock to save their lives.

My wife and I now have a new filter that we use to process traumatic events around the world: If it happens at a school, or is an act of mass violence by a single perpetrator, we want to be the first to let our daughter know about it, before she hears about it from some other source. We want to be the first, because “the medium is the message”— the way she hears about traumatic “trigger” events matters (in the end) more than the news about the event itself. I think we’re hoping to model how Jesus moves into our dark places. He doesn’t wipe away our reality; instead, He invades our reality with His forceful, tender, and redemptive presence.

He doesn’t take away the ugly; He treats our ugly like clay and re-molds it into something beautiful. But beauty that’s created out of ugly still has the stink of ugly, because that’s its raw material.

This morning my daughter has a look of pain on her face, and she alternates between telling my wife and I that she doesn’t want to talk about what happened in Pittsburgh with a steady stream of questions about what happened in Pittsburgh. She doesn’t want the ugly to have free access to her soul, but she wants the freedom to touch the ugly on her own terms. And it’s vital that she learns, early on, to live in the spirit of “The Stockdale Paradox.”

Jim Stockdale was an officer and prisoner-of-war in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnam War. He was imprisoned for eight years, from 1965 to 1973 and was relentlessly and ruthlessly tortured. But he survived the experience, and the way that he survived has now been studied and taught around the world as The Stockdale Paradox: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” Jesus operates, all of the time, in the tension described by The Stockdale Paradox—He will move us to face the “most brutal facts of our current reality, whatever they might be.” But He does this in a momentum and a context of certainty that we will “prevail in the end.”

Our “dark habit” of attempting to be the first to talk with Lucy about new acts of school violence is our messy determination to communicate that bad things happen, and we have to face them, but even more, that hope prevails because Jesus prevails.

Rick / @RickSkip

P.S. It’s a good time to remember the vital basics of entering into students’ dark places with life-giving counsel. I love what GROUP Magazine columnist and longtime youth pastor Jeanne Mayo says in this short piece called “The Ultimate Counseling Advice.”

by Jeanne Mayo (Group Magazine Contributor)

It’s the kind of telephone call no youth leader ever wants to receive. One of our teenagers just attempted suicide—twice in one hour. So where am I in the midst of this trauma? Right by the young man’s side in the hospital, giving the kind of encouragement and hope every youth leader would want to give? Not hardly. I find myself hundreds of miles away at a youth leadership conference. Where do we go from here?

Thankfully, I’ve prioritized building a youth leadership team around me. So there are a couple of great young adults who are on their way to the hospital. Do these guys have extensive training in counseling or crisis intervention? I’m afraid not. Yet I’m authentically comfortable that they’ll be highly effective in this life-or-death scenario.

To help you understand my peace in this situation, let me reiterate my simple instructions to them. I think it’s the ultimate counseling advice most youth leaders need to remember. It pivots around seven simple words: “Don’t fix it until you feel it.”

This simple principle has served me through myriad counseling situations for nearly four decades. Though these situations often called for very different focuses, I started at the same pivotal place: I tried to make sure that my heart connected with the students and what they were going through before I began to share any thoughts or advice with them. Let me give you a few simple counseling highlights that go along with this principle:

1. Remember that listening is usually more healing than talking. We often forget this vital counseling insight. When a teenager starts to share, it’s a mistake to break into the conversation and quickly begin to dispense our “vital wisdom.” I think that simple awareness alone will make you profoundly more powerful in counseling situations.

2. Teach yourself to make “say-it-back statements.” By responding with phrases such as “That must have really hurt,” the student will sense that you’re connecting deeply with what he or she is feeling.

3. Never cheapen a problem by saying, “I know just how you feel.” It’s great to relate your own personal struggles to a teenager’s situation. But often, we spend three minutes listening and the next 10 minutes relating our own situation. I’m constantly amazed how many students say, “Thanks, Jeanne…you’ve really helped a lot” before I get a chance to say anything substantial at all. Why? I think the sheer act of deep listening is what helps most.

4. At all costs, avoid “T.R.T.” That stands for “typical religious talk.” I’m not saying to leave Scripture or prayer out of the conversation. I’m just suggesting that you make sure you’re doing more than spewing back some often-repeated religious jargon.

5. Know when to call in the pros. I’ve lost track of the number of times that I’ve been “over my head” in a counseling situation. I’ve often said, “I want to be your friend and help you through this situation, but can I connect you with someone who can be even more help to you than me?” Yet student after student has told me later that the pro’s advice wasn’t nearly as meaningful as my personal love and concern. So even after you make a referral, don’t underestimate the power of your continued listening and friendship.

In short, I have great news for you today. If you’ve had little or no professional training in counseling, you can still be immensely significant in teenagers’ lives. When they start to share their hearts with you, just mentally repeat “Lord, help me not to fix it before I feel it.” The results will make you a valued counselor. I promise.

- Jeanne Mayo is a longtime youth minister, author, speaker, and ministry resourcer. Visit her Web site—www.youthsource.com—for advice, ideas, and resources. She lives in Georgia.



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imagesI firmly believe that ultimately as leaders we lead by what we do whether we want to or not. We can be leading and speaking in one lane and living in another. And little do we know our that students over time do more of what we do and less of what we say. So it’s important we continue to grow spiritually, following Christ as we lead others. It’s important that we are investing in areas of leadership that we would love to transfer on to our students and allowing those things to live out in our own lives first. Then as we lead, teach and mentor, we will see those things lived out in the lives of our students. So here are a few things I want lived out in my life so they can be lived out in the lives of the students that God has trusted me with:

  1. Perseverance - A lot of times God calls us to do things that challenge us to trust Him. He challenges us to say I can, when we think we can’t. So, we need to model perseverance in trusting God’s timing and calling instead of our own.
  2. Humility - We need to remember that James 4:10 says if we humble ourselves then God will exalt us. We also need to remember that Luke 14:11 says if we try and exalt ourselves we will be humbled. Being humble is a state of being and not a position. Humility is not selling everything you own and living as a poor person. That is actually pride, because you are trying to buy humility by doing something. We need to model humility, which is simply knowing that God’s grace has you where you are and nothing else. We must live that out.
  3. Character – Your character shapes the leader you become, so they need to know that building Godly character is mission critical. You lead out the character you’ve developed or the lack there of. We need to model Godly character.
  4. Patience – They need to understand that patience is more then just waiting. Having patience helps you lead and make decisions with balance. Patience is really a lost art in our culture today. Amazon is the perfect example: They have a button called “Buy Now With One Click.” Just click it right there on the same page and buy it. They want to make sure you don’t have time to think if this a smart choice. They want to help you buy on impulse verses your purchase being wisely thought out. The faster we can have it, do it, use it, own it, see it, take it and eat it, the better. Patience helps you lead and make decisions apart from your impulses. We need to model patience.
  5. Compassion – One reason why compassion is important in leadership is because Jesus modeled it. Matt 14:14 says, “When Jesus saw the crowd He was moved with compassion and healed those who were sick.” There are so many takeaways from this verse, but the one that sticks out the most is that compassion has the ability to move you into doing the unthinkable. It takes a courageous, bold person to be compassionate. I can just imagine Jesus freaking people out completely as He walks through just healing people left and right. We need to model compassion.

We can teach these things a million different ways with great conviction, but the real question is…can we live these things out? It’s not enough to just teach. So what am I missing on this list? Which one is the hardest for you to live out?

Hope it helps

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