45 Seconds: A Personal Reflection

January 13, 2010

This morning’s news is filled with reports and images of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. How life in Port-au-Prince changed in 45 seconds!

My first prayers have been filled with intercessions to God for the people of Haiti and for those who will rush to help them.

My second prayers, however, have been completely self-centered and filled with gratefulness that my own personal world is safe.

Is this the same for you? Dear God, how terrible, and phew! So glad this didn’t happen to me?

45 seconds.

Real earthquakes [and other disasters] may give those of us on “safe ground” a chance to have a “soulquake”. Crisis often triggers transcendent experiences in people, but what if we didn’t need a crisis to get our lives right? What if we took 45 seconds every day to ask ourselves:

Am I living in God’s will?
Are my relationships right?
Is my life filled with God’s purpose?

45 seconds…can change your life.


Be a Brightsider not a Discourager

March 24, 2009

danceDo the Gratitude Dance! Perhaps you saw the segment on Good Morning America that was all about a new trend called , “bright-siding”.   Bright-siding is the decision to do things that will intentionally bring a cheery atmosphere into your life and the life of others.  It may mean wearing cheerful colors,  painting a room with bright colors and  listening to cheerful music.  It definitely means living a life of gratitude and approaching others with a smile.  Both gratitude and smiling have been demonstrated to have a positive effect on a person’s brain. The premise to bright-siding is that while one person can’t control the external things that are happening that person can control their outlook.  So to be a brightsider, here are some first steps to take along with some biblical references for those steps

  1. Turn off the Media.  Watch it, listen to it, or read it once a day only.  Besides, it is usually just a repeat of the same stories.  Instead read Proverbs 3:25 and Psalm 23.
  2. Connect with God. Spend a planned amount of time each day just talking and listening to God.  Shift your focus from the world around you to God.   Read Romans 8:5
  3. Read Inspirational Books.  Allow positive information and messages to replace the negative information.  Read stories of people who not only survived but thrived.  Use the story of Joseph as an inspiration in Genesis chapters 37-47.
  4. Surround Yourself with Positive People-   Negative and positive are contagious, so it is better to be infected with the positive.  Seek out positive people.  Search the Book of Proverbs for references to the foolish and the wise.
  5. Exercise- The release of endorphins has a measurable positive impact on your brain and your thinking.  Read 1 Corinthians 6:19
  6. Get Plenty of Sleep- It is almost impossible to be positive when you are exhausted.  However things are much brighter and in proper perspective after rest.  Psalm 46:10
  7. Go to Church- It is there that we can find a caring community.  It is there that we need to be reminded of God’s unconditional love and mercy as well as God’s control as the creator of the universe.  It is there we can experience the chorus of Alleluias from worship.  Read Psalm 100 and 150 and John 3:16

The key is to do and think things that help you see the bright side.  Here are some links for more information on bright-siding and positive thinking.

The Gratitude Group

Spread Joy Network

Spread Joy Song

Do the Gratitude Dance

Facebook Group- Rebel Against Recession

Facebook Group-Recession Survivors


Now is the Time to Give

November 18, 2008

A long-time philanthropist has an important message for all of us.

Last Friday I had the privilege of attending a luncheon celebrating the Philanthropist of the Year for the poty1south Florida area.  My reason for attending was that a good friend was being recognized as the philanthropist. The TV personality that introduced him during the ceremony indicated she thought she knew all of the key philanthropists in the region, but discovered she didn’t because this one was such a quiet, anonymous giver. She pointed out that he had been actively at work helping people without any desire for personal recognition. A friend, however, decided that the time had come to shine a light on what this man had done as a result of his faith in Christ. The honored philanthropist, Dr. William Frey, has been a long time supporter of The LOGOS Ministry.  In addition, he supports a number of other ministries that share a vision for the future or children.  He has recently established scholarships for all 47 elementary schools in Lee County.  All of this because he loves God, loves young people, and has a gift to share.

In his acceptance speech, instead of the usual list of thanks, Bill observed that in these tough times we need to do all that we can, and use all of the leverage we have, to help young people. It is during times like these that support to them can be cut back, left out,  or even forgotten as we focus on our own needs. On the other hand, he said, it is at times like these that we must stretch ourselves to help the youngest in our midst with the love of Jesus Christ. Bill challenged everyone to do even more because of the tough times.

What a tremendous message for these times and this season.  In today’s economic climate, Bill suggested that we should give even more and with a thankful heart. He reminded us to place our dependence not on ourselves, but on God who is the great provider. This was a courageous message coming from a man whose own financial well- being has been hit very hard by the economic pressures affecting the housing market.

So, that is a challenge that I would like to put forth to you. In these tough times, what can you do even more to help the young people in your midst and offer them the love of Christ?  How can you support them and ministries to young people even more, and place your dependence totally upon God?

It is a tough challenge, but one I believe we need to meet.  Thanks for your words, Bill.


We Are Called to Mission

June 22, 2007

When selflessly serving others for Christ…everyone benefits.

Listening to God’s call is a good thing…and that’s just one of the important lessons the staff of The LOGOS Ministry learned last week on a mission trip to Youngstown, Ohio. We did some painting and clean-up in an inner-city church that is seeking a new life serving a new constituency in a changing metropolitan area. Amidst the washing & scraping and priming & painting, we climbed up and down ladders and scaffolding (so who’s afraid of heights now?), stepped in paint buckets (yes…full ones), talked a lot, laughed a lot, prayed a lot, and shared meals with some great people. And we encountered God.

While our labors served the needs of others, we were being changed. On the trip we learned or were reminded that:

• Mission is a God thing.
• Servanthood and service to others must guide our attitudes.
• Building relationships with those we serve is key.
• It is good to connect with passionate people; you can build excitement around them to affect others.
• Getting outside of our normal environment and engaging the world around us reminds us that it is not about us at all.
• We can learn more about ministry by serving than through reading books or training people.
• Teamwork is essential to great mission outcomes.
• The full value of mission goes well beyond the work project itself.
• Mission planning and preparation are vitally important steps to allowing us to concentrate on relationships and to be fully present for God.

At LOGOS, we are committed to making mission an integral part of ministry with children…nurturing kids in Christ and then sending them out to be his disciples in a practical and tangible way.

What about your ministry? Are you and the children in your congregation responding to God’s call to serve others?

Visit myspace.com/logosmission to see video blogs, pictures, and comments from the LOGOS staff during our mission trip to Youngstown.


Children’s Ministry Rules at NewSpring Church

May 11, 2007

This mega church has placed a high priority on children…with dramatic results

So, how does a mega church choose to minister with children, and is it all show and no go? I went to NewSpring Community Church ( www.newspring.cc) to see how they live out what is stated as their number #2 priority…children’s ministry. They have placed worship as their first objective. So, after an extremely gracious and tremendously hospitable visit during which people bent over backwards to show me around and spend time with me, I identified three things I learned while at NewSpring:

1. They are passionate about children’s ministry. Introducing children to Jesus at NewSpring is as important as introducing adults to Jesus. It was not all about entertainment and WOW, but was much more about the substance of ministry.

2. Sunday mornings at NewSpring are modeled on what we at LOGOS call the foundational elements of ministry to children. These are:

  • Theology of Relationships – where there is a focus on relationships with adults, peers and God.
  • Process of Call – through which adult leaders are engaged in ministry in a way that is much more than just putting any volunteer in any slot
  • Balanced Ministry – that reaches the whole child…mind, body and soul…and not just mind feeding or entertainment.

3. Perry Noble, NewSpring’s Senior Pastor, supports the children’s ministry whole heartedly and this is key to its effectiveness. When I asked him how he responds to adults who say there is too much focus on children and not enough on adults he said, “ I tell them when we have children in our midst, we as adults must give up our rights, privileges and desires and accept our responsibility to reach young people for Christ doing whatever it takes to do so.” After my visit, he wrote an entire blog on this subject which you can read here.

Without a doubt, this church is not just about bells and whistles, but is intentional about reaching kids for Christ. Being passionate about this commitment with the support of the senior pastor is extremely important. In fact, this week’s LOGOS podcast is an interview I had with three children’s leaders at NewSpring in which they discuss how important children are to the church’s life. I interviewed, Jason Moorhead (Chief Operations Officer), Pudge Huckaby (Elementary School Pastor), and Cherie Duffey (Early Childhood Director). I am sure you won’t want to miss this.

Listen to our podcast: Children rule at NewSpring Church


Extending Children’s Ministry into Mission

May 4, 2007

A balanced ministry approach will eventually result in “going out” to serve others.

One of the fundamental building blocks at LOGOS is the notion of balanced ministry. That is, a ministry that comprehensively addresses multiple aspects of Christian nurture on a concurrent basis. For LOGOS, this occurs along two key dimensions. First, we address the child’s heart, body and mind with our multi-part program approach. The whole child is ministered to in an integrated way in order to produce the most effective nurturing result. Secondly, LOGOS emphasizes both learning and practicing the faith to facilitate the child’s growth into discipleship as an active process of development.

In this context then, mission represents the next step in extending the nurturing and growth of children by shifting the emphasis from the ministry serving the kids themselves to helping them learn to serve others. This is one practical way for children to see their role as young disciples whom Christ directs to “go out” and be of service to those in need. The powerful lesson of service, learned at a young age, can then be built upon and reinforced over time as young Christians grow to become tomorrow’s church. To support this effort, LOGOS is now including training for church leaders on how to include a mission component in an overall children’s ministry model.

But that’s not all! The LOGOS Ministry is also “on a mission.” We are going to be serving John Knox Presbyterian Church in Youngstown, OH during the week of June 11th by painting, cleaning and doing some minor repair work around the church. Follow our preparations and our day-to-day experiences at John Knox by checking in with the LOGOS staff at our new mission website www.myspace.com/logosmission. Visit the site often and leave us a message…or a prayer.

Listen to our podcast: Mission and Ministry are Key


Tragedy Highlights the Need for Action

April 27, 2007

When bad things happen, we tend to take a harder look at what we’re doing…or not doing

The violent murder of students and faculty at Virginia Tech, and even the death of the perpetrator himself, has caused many of us to think deeply about life and how we live it. Naturally, much of our attention has been placed on gun control, mental health policies, public security, and media practices. There are, however, more fundamental concerns that we as Christians must eventually acknowledge.

Those concerns have to do with how we minister, on a consistent and ongoing basis, to children, parents and whole families. By placing a vibrant and living relationship with God through Jesus Christ at the center of a child’s development and as the focal point of married and family life, we establish a firm foundation for ongoing growth and a holy compass for guiding daily actions. By concentrating on both learning about our faith and practicing it on a consistent basis, children and parents can make Christianity a real and dynamic aspect of their daily lives…and a powerful basis for being a light in the world. And by being alert to the need to discern God’s calling on our lives and to making life decisions with an acknowledgment of His intentions, we can be in synch with a God who has our very well-being in mind.

In his most recent book, Revolutionary Parenting, Christian researcher and author George Barna investigates the plight of kids and parents in our culture. Barna identifies some of the key elements of an effective approach to parenting today…making child rearing an important priority, parenting with an intentional plan and approach, and being consistent in the application of values and standards. At LOGOS, we agree that these are critical parenting strategies that must be supported by an active church life…kids and parents and church…a plan for spiritual health and well-being.

Life is not easy, and we are all fallen sinners who are susceptible to weakness and the effects of evil in this world. More gun controls or police on every street corner will not be effective solutions to the problems that come with our humanity. Only God can heal our wounds and save our children…with the help of the church.

Listen to our podcast on Action: 3 priorities for the church


Where is God?

April 20, 2007

Tragic events cause many to question God’s role in our lives…

It has been eight years today since the attack on students in Columbine High School. Since then, we have seen many other violent attacks on the public, including the life-changing events of 9/11. The reality is that our children in the United States are dying everyday due to violence, abuse, and neglect. Everyday schools receive bomb threats (I was shocked to hear that the school districts of the greater Pittsburgh area report 50 bomb threats a year- that is almost one a week), children are bullied, abused at home, live in substandard conditions, and are misused or just plain neglected. Then a day like Monday happens at Virginia Tech, where an angry young person wipes out the lives of as many as he can around him, and suddenly this everyday violence we live in comes to the surface one more time and grabs our attention.

All of this causes a flurry of conversation about guns, mental health, education, parenting and society in general.  It causes some in and outside of the Christian community, and other faiths for that matter, to wonder “Where is God?  Why does God let this happen?  What is the purpose?”

The reality is, and this is nothing new, God is here just as He always has been.  Here to offer comfort, care, and the presence of the Holy Spirit to those in need. But most of us have trouble seeing that because we don’t look for God.  We don’t help our children look for God.  We don’t teach them that a relationship with God is critical to who they are, and to who they will become.

Instead, the average American spends 18 hours a week in front of a TV, 35 hours a week in leisure time and eating, more than 40 hours a week working, 45 hours a week sleeping and only 1 hour every other week- that’s 30 minutes a week, active in a faith community.

Among these statistics, time spent in sleeping and involvement in the body of Christ has been decreasing over the years. These are the two things that are probably the most critical for us in our efforts to become balanced and whole human beings. Lack of sleep leads us to frustration and irrational behavior. Lack of being in the body of Christ leads us away from being who God intended us to be, and what God intends for us to do. It creates a chasm between us and God, perhaps one so large that we can no longer see God present in our lives. It also opens the doors to the evils of the world to creep into our souls and lead us to behaviors that work against God and our neighbors. In the end, all of the things that replace a relationship with Jesus provide no fulfillment, no purpose, and no hope for today or tomorrow.

Is that the message we want our children to hear?  Well, it certainly seems to be the one we are teaching. Our children see and live in a world of hatred and violence. They see and experience that we seem to have too much to do to really care about them. We blame institutions, society, and others around us instead of taking the bull by the horns and proclaiming to everyone, everywhere, in all that we say and do…A saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ is more important than anything else in life!

We wonder, where is God?  I am sure that God is still wondering, as He has for years and years, where are we?

(There will be no podcast this week.  They will resume next week.)


LOGOS and Miss America

March 15, 2007

What do LOGOS and Miss America have in common? It is not just that we are both bright and beautiful! No, it is more than this. The current Miss America, Lauren Nelson, also grew up in a LOGOS program at Centenary United Methodist Church in Lawton, OK where she remains a member. In an article in the United Methodist Reporter, she talks of the importance of her church family, her relationship with God, and growing up in LOGOS. Read all about it in this online version.


Britney Spears…a Prodigal Daughter?

February 28, 2007

How should we respond to the lives of our “lost” sons and daughters?

A recent article by David Kuo in The Christian Post talks about his multiple contacts with Britney Spears and ponders whether or not she is the prodigal daughter. In the article, Kuo says, “I wonder if she’s looked at the pictures of her onstage kissing Madonna and writhing around on the floor and felt much as the prodigal son felt when he found himself lying in a pig sty. Britney’s sty may be different – more luxe and less slop – but the self-loathing, hopeless destination is the same.”

In Luke 15: 11-32, we see how the son who lived a life full of nothing but earthly pleasures falls into such complete despair and hopelessness that he nervously returns home hoping that he will not be cast out. Instead of being cast out, he finds a rejoicing over the fact that he has left his outrageous behavior behind and is ready to be a part of the family. Kuo puts forth that perhaps Britney has finally become so disgusted with her life that she has changed her looks and checked into rehab so as to go back home to who she once was.

We don’t know how this will all end for Britney Spears. I am sure there are pressures from all sides in her life to be who others want her to be. However, this article by David Kuo reminds me that in the arena of our churches, we are to welcome those prodigals who are coming home and searching for meaning, purpose and belonging. Their behavior might have been outrageous, their looks and actions might indicate self-loathing. But if they are searching for forgiveness and love, are we ready to be the loving parent and offer it to them in the name of Christ? In LOGOS, we believe that as much as it might offend our senses, they still deserve to be treated as children of God and helped along the road to restoration. So what do we do with the prodigals, welcome them or tell them to come back when they are just like us?

Then again, in the eyes of God who isn’t a prodigal?


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.