Raising Kids in Post Apocalyptic America

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I write this before the election results are final because it will be extremely relevant for the half of America that feels like they lost but should be relevant for all us. Most parents want their kids to be politically like-minded. The problem is in the fact that we are trying to raise our kids to be loyal to a particular party.

Parents what your kids need to see from you after the election is over.

  1. Humility – We need much more humility on both sides of the aisle.
  2. Humanity – The opposition is not an evil to be eradicated but people to be reasoned with and listened to and opposed strongly.
  3. Hope – Our kids need us to point them to the history of our republic and show the resilience that our founding fathers built into this experiment. They don’t need us counting ration cans and loading our weapons.
  4. Help – We need to have conversations with our kids about how they can help restore our country to her founding principles.

We need to teach our kids to be more faithful to the constitution, and to the principles that make America great. We need to tell them the goodness of our history without shielding them our massive shortcomings. We need to teach them that we must fight for liberty for all because when we fail to live up to the preamble of the constitution we collectively pay a great price. Lincoln understood this with a heavy heart during his second inaugural address he said

“Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

“Will an equally severe accounting be demanded for America’s equally brazen denial of the Declaration’s promise of life for all and a myriad of other contradictions of America’s declared commitment to freedom?”

Guinness, Os

We must pray and pass on to our kids the stories of sacrifice and greatness rather than ranting on and on about why (insert political enemy here) is the worst.

The last thing we must always do is remind our kids of the hope of heaven. We only passing through if we look to the kingdoms of this world or political parties in this world we will be only ever disappointed. We must gain our footing and regain our perspective.

“One day America and all its presidents will be a footnote in history, but God’s kingdom will never end.” John Piper

Semper Reformanda.

America is Great Because She is Good

How can we actually make America Great again?

Lincoln Memorial

During this campaign cycle, we have heard Hilary Clinton quote the infamous misattributed quote from Alexis de Tocqueville. She has said as many Politicians before her have said: “America is great because America is good.” This is correct but incomplete. What is good? We need fewer Chants of “Lock her up” fewer emails colluding to steal our parties nomination. We need more conversations about what we as a country can agree on what is good, true and beautiful.

I thought the last four presidential elections were bad; this one is by far the worse. The problem I have come to realize is everybody. Both sides have turned the political discourse in this country into us vs. them. Tomorrow 50% of our nation will feel like they have lost. America loses when we demonize our opposition for the short-sighted goal of winning an election. Everyone loses when we win at our own expense.


I have also come to the conclusion that both sides are right. They both see problems with our country and see that we are in need of reform. While both see different parts of the whole that are broken, if we can refrain from chucking bombs at each other long enough to listen to each other perhaps we can realize that the common ground we are losing with every vicious election is the founding principles of our country. If our republic is to survive, we must return to our first principles. The Brilliant Os Guinness says it this way:

…what the Jews understood by the hope of national renewal through a return to the ways of God and the Puritans understood by the hope of renewal through personal and corporate revival was paralleled politically in the ideas of the founders. George Mason, characteristically more conservative, spoke of “a frequent recurrence to fundamental first principles,” whereas Thomas Jefferson, who was more liberal, spoke of the need for “a revolution every twenty years.” Even Machiavelli agreed with this, though sadly not his modern disciples: republics must frequently return to their first principles. ‘“Things are preserved from destruction by bringing them back to their first principles,’ is a rule in Physics; the same holds good in politics.” …I am convinced that America faces no problem today that cannot be resolved through a return to America’s first principles. Yet the plain fact is that those who reject the founders’ understanding of sustainable freedom are hardly likely to take seriously their views of national and civic renewal, so the folly and madness continue unabated, at least for the moment. If there is no American renewal, American dominance can be followed only by American decline. America has reached the point where, apart from restoration, there is no other choice.

So today go vote. Tomorrow no matter who wins remember that our Republic will prevail not through policies on the left or the right but reformation through going backward together to go forward stronger. We have to get this right.

If justice is not to be denied and if, as Lincoln said in his noble second inaugural address, the judgments of heaven are “true and righteous altogether,” then America will face the fate of all overreaching empires: the United States will be indicted for its hubris and judged before the world by whether it has lived up to the standard of its own ideals.

Guinness, Os

Pastor Success is Not Your Goal.

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If 19 years in ministry has taught me, anything it has taught me that leading  is difficult. There are times where you are on top of the world and other times where you feel the world is collapsing around you. The challenge is not to give in the going gets hard and to not blow up when things are going your way.

In life and ministry success is an amazing by-product but a terrible goal and an even worse master. The challenge for each of us especially those in ministry is to measure our lives by the right yardstick. It is very easy to get sucked into the more is better; leadership fixes everything trap. The modern leadership movement has done much to help pastors and churches, but we must also be aware of the damage it has done and continues to do. There has slipped in this idea of a post-modern, secular identity that we can rise from obscurity to be the church everyone in the nation is talking about. If we allow success to be our goal, business strategies to be our mantra and CEO’s to be our heroes we will be swallowed up by the success we think will earn God’s favor and man’s respect. Tim Keller in his book Making Sense of God says the secular identity brings a crushing burden with it.

The Single Greatest Recruitment Tool for Kidmin

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Good now that I have your attention. Of all the ministries in the church, the most volunteer intensive ministry by far is children’s ministry. No matter the size of church you are in if you do kids ministry you never have enough volunteers. If you have done kids ministry for any length of time you will be able to say like Paul “I know what it’s like to be abased and to abound.” These past few months I have lost several volunteers. In my early years of kids ministry, this would have set me to breathing into a brown paper sack to avoid hyperventilation. Recruitment is a way of life for kidmin leaders. I am always looking for tools and tips to do it better.

If you have been to any conference for kids ministry people you will always see breakouts on how to recruit, train, and retain volunteers. They are helpful and instructive I have been to many that have helped think how I structure the ministry I am the chief steward of. For a few years when I was much younger and breathing into a brown paper sack more often than I would like to admit I used to take volunteers leaving as a personal thing. They weren’t moving on because life changed for them. In my mind, they were leaving because of me. While that may be true for some it was not true of all. Growing older in age and deeper in the gospel I have come to the understanding that I am a steward the ministry I lead is not mine I have influence by the grace of God alone for the Glory of God alone.

With that being said I will now give you the secret sauce of volunteer recruitment that I have painstakingly discovered over 20 years of ministry.

Prayer.

There it is my friends. Prayer. I have found prayer to be my best most reliable tool for recruiting people to help in all our children’s ministry. There have been so many times that I was overwhelmed by the empty spaces on my volunteer management system and people would call me or seek me out and tell me they want to help in kids ministry. There have been other times that in times of prayer God will drop names in my mind to ask to get involved. Other times God uses people like my wife to give me suggestions. All those things have this in common they are an answer to prayers I have prayed that God would help me see the unconnected, that He would send people my way who I don’t even ask.

Prayer is one of the most overlooked tools in the arsenal of any Christ follower. Prayer is powerful because we believe the God of Heaven hears and acts when we pray. Prayer is powerful because it reminds us that we are wholly dependent on the grace and the mercy of God in every action we take. So kidmin leader take heart, pray for you have a Father who loves you more than you will ever know who is working all things together for you good and his glory.

I leave you with these powerful words about prayer taken from the great Bishop J.C. Ryle and his short and convicting book on prayer.

Nothing seems to be too great, too hard, or too difficult for prayer to do. It has obtained things that seemed impossible and out of reach. It has won victories over fire, air, earth, and water.

Prayer opened the Red Sea. Prayer brought water from the rock and bread from heaven. Prayer made the sun stand still. Prayer brought fire from the sky on Elijah’s sacrifice. Prayer turned the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. Prayer overthrew the army of Sennacherib.

Well said Mary Queen of Scots, “I fear John Knox’s prayers more than an army of ten thousand men.” Prayer has healed the sick. Prayer has raised the dead. Prayer has procured the conversion of souls. “The child of many prayers,” said an old Christian to Augustine’s mother, “will never perish.” Prayer, pains, and faith can do anything.

J.C. Ryle

6 Questions Every Communicator Must Ask Before They Preach

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We live in an age where there is more information available to us than ever before. When I was a kid I did my research papers using encyclopedias, studied using a concordance. If you are under the age of 30 and are reading this you have no idea what I am talking about. Here is where our world has change for the better and for the worse, we no longer need those study methods because we have the internet. The problem with the internet is that even though you can get lots of good information you can also allow your thoughts and ideas to be diluted and even confused by the diversity of thoughts and ideas available online. One of the ways I try to overcome this is by passing thoughts and information through a series of questions. If you are a bible story-teller for kids church, a youth pastor or on an adult preaching team these questions will apply.

5 Questions every communicator must ask before they preach

1. Could I preach this message in a synagogue or in a Mormon Tabernacle? If so it’s not the gospel. –
2. Am I being faithful to the text? Am I allowing the text to speak or am I trying to get the text to say what I want it to say?
3. Do I have any practical application?
4. Does my application leave people with a sense that “if I do this then….” or does my application leave people with a sense “That if I do this and trust Jesus then….”
5. What’s my motivation? Will at the end of the message will I have been thought of as a brilliant communicator or will I point those in attendance (myself included) to their daily need for a brilliant savior.
6. Will the end result of this message be the worship and glorification of Christ?