My 40-Day Challenge

September 18, 2012 — 2 Comments

40 Days
Forty days.

A few months ago, I signed up to run in a half-marathon. I’ve not taken it too seriously. I wouldn’t say I’m out of shape, but I’m definitely not in “let’s go run 13.1-miles” shape! Now, I have forty days to prepare mentally and physically for this run. That’s the 40-Day Challenge.

The challenge isn’t to break a world record. The challenge is to finish. Run, walk, or crawl–I will finish. I’ve set goals and a schedule that will prepare me as best as possible. It’s going to take more discipline than I think I’ve ever shown in anything else. Each day will have to be a strategic step towards the next goal, or I will likely fail.

How’s that for pressure?

I know it will be hard. But in the words of Tom Hanks in the great movie A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great!”

If you want to join me in this challenge, you can do so by donating support to Soaring Wings Ranch. Soaring Wings Ranch provides a permanent Christ-centered home for children who have been the victims of unfortunate circumstances and just need a chance. Your support will give me encouragement, but even more importantly it will support a great ministry for kids and families.

Click Here to Donate

Think Before You Speak

September 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

Scrabble-words
In our Back 2 School series, we talked with preteens about the power of their words. Words have the power to be destructive, or they can be an encouraging witness of our faith. We asked leaders and preteens to consider 3 questions before they speak. Here are the three questions:

true wordsLuke 16:10 says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Our words need to be true so that they can build others up and strengthen our relationships.

encouraging wordsEphesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Even when there is not much to be positive about, find something uplifting to say that will encourage the person to keep growing.

Witness WordsColossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” God desires for you to use your words to build up others not tear them down. The main reason for this is so that they will see Jesus in your speech and want to know more about Him.

Words are powerful. How can we encourage preteens to think before they speak?

man-thinking-draft
I’m playing in 2 Fantasy Football leagues this year. The first league is with a group of pastors at our church, and the second league is with my family.

I felt honored to be invited into the pastor’s league, so I took the draft really seriously. I read all the expert opinions on players, I printed off team depth charts, and I even paid $4.99 for an iPad app that’s only purpose was to help me pick the right players!

After the 3-hour draft, I felt really good about my team and our chances of winning. I felt like all my work had paid off.

The league with my family was much less intense. I joined the league, made up a team name, and then waited for the computer to “auto-pick” my players at 4:00 am. When I got up this morning, I had an email telling me which players I had “picked.”

The two teams were almost identical!

With the exception of 2 players—2 out of 15—the teams were the same. I spent hours trying to make sure that I picked the right players in the first draft, and the second draft auto-picked the same players while I was asleep!

I usually live by the motto, “If you want it done right, do it yourself!” I’m always afraid that someone will screw up if I let them take over, so I end up doing the job myself. I realize that I spend a lot of my time “spinning my wheels” in areas that I should equip others to lead. These draft results reminded me that delegation is important, especially in ministry.

Here are some questions that I’m asking myself to help me delegate more:

1. What am I currently doing that only I can/should be doing?
2. What am I doing that someone else could do?
3. Who are the people around me that have talents in the areas I need to delegate?
4. How can I equip those individuals to “own” that area?
4. How can I support and encourage those that are taking responsibility of these areas?

applyIn writing our curriculum for Fifty6, we really wanted to make every lesson connect with preteens and their daily lives. We wanted to draw lines between what the Bible says and how it can be put into practice. We want them to walk away from every lesson with an idea that will challenge them to live differently based on what they’ve learned from God’s Word.

Here’s how we’re encouraging preteens to apply the Bible to their lives:

1. Make space in the lesson for action steps

At the end of every small group session, we have a segment called React. We do a quick review of the lesson and ask preteens to consider how it will make a difference in their lives. We challenge them by asking this question, In light of all we learned, what will we do differently this week? Here is an example of the React portion of Small Group:
React

2. Give suggestions, but let preteens make decisions

We’ve decided that we will always provide some suggested action steps for preteens, but we ultimately want them to decide how they will apply the lesson to their lives. We don’t want to tell them how to react because we don’t want to limit the way Scripture is working in their life. We want them to make decisions and take this step in owning their faith.

3. Provide Accountability in the Small Group

Accountability is always important in life-change. To make sure that preteens have accountability, we ask small group leaders to follow-up each week on the previous week’s React segment. Preteens are free to share how they applied the Bible to their lives and what God is doing through that.

How do you help preteens apply the Bible to their life?