Where’s God in the Storm?

What God might be teaching us

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Our climate is changing, and storms and natural disasters are becoming stronger and more frequent. Many are trying to understand why. I hear some Christians speaking of the ‘last days’ and God’s ‘message’ to us. I hear scientists screaming about global warming. I hear others who are simply confused and fearful of what’s to come. While we can present options, I’m not sure if we can definitively understand why this is happening. One thing I know for sure, however, is that we can trust God every step of the way.

Where's God in the Storm

One of the scariest things in the world is uncertainty. Many of us can face some wild things, but when we’re not sure of the outcome, everything changes. It’s the tension between status quo and something new. The more distance between those two realities, the scarier the experience.

But it doesn’t matter our situation, God is looking for us to trust Him. The truth is, when things are out of control and unimaginable, we don’t have a choice.

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Supporting Our Youth

6 Ways We Can Help Our Youth Succeed

Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you want a strong youth ministry in your assembly, you have to support them.  We may not always understand or agree with new methods of ministry, but support is vital if we want the Church to grow.

support-our-youth

We often want the success (ie. YCNL with 2000+ youth attending), but it doesn’t start with success.  It starts with supporting our youth ministries and supporting the journey before and after the special events and moments of success. That might sound obvious, but I’m not sure if we all actually do it well.

The Youth Pastor is my wife…

I have the privilege of being married to the Youth Pastor.  That privilege can also be quite the challenge.  I’m in the role of Lead Pastor, which means I’m the husband and, on paper, the leader of my wife. I have to be supportive and fair at the same time.

We recently found ourselves in a “communication casualty.”  Long story short, I had to apologize and ensured her that I would take the fall.  I did that, not because I’m her husband or her Lead Pastor, but because I’m both and my support will directly impact our relationship and our youth ministry.

I wish it was always that easy.  Truth be told, we find ourselves experiencing a “communication casualty” more often than we should.

But it did get me thinking.  How can we make sure we are supporting our youth?  I’ve come up with six ways, but I’m sure you can add to it as well!  Help us all out and comment below with ways you’ve supported your local youth ministry.

1. Value Our Youth With Action

When I was a teenager, there were times when the youth were “blamed” every time damage was found in church building.  “I’d say the youth broke that…”  Unfortunately, that led to a “new rule” to ensure it never happened again.  Did I feel valued? Not exactly.

If we value our #youth, let them make a mess, make them clean it up, & let them do it again! Click To Tweet Our church community (Bethel) just finished putting together our “values.”  What I found so encouraging was that NO ONE mentioned “our building” on that list of values, but DID mentioned “our youth” several times.  So, if we value our youth, let them make a mess on the carpet, make them clean it up, and let them do it again!   We have to respect the building, but, more importantly, we need to ensure we value our youth before the “carpet”.

2. Provide Financial Support

We shouldn’t need to receive something in order to #give something. #youth #support Click To Tweet Make a “no strings attached” donation to the youth group.  I’m not a fan of fundraising within the church.  I don’t mind fundraising outside the church, but not inside the Church. We shouldn’t need to receive something in order to give something.  If we want to financially support our youth, the only reward we really need is watching them grow in their spiritual journey.

3. Pray for Our Youth

Life up our youth in #prayer...prayer works! #youthmin #support Click To Tweet Our youth are in the middle of some of the biggest life-changing moments of their lives and our leaders are attempting to help them through those moments.  They need our prayer.  What we can’t afford, are empty prayers.  If we truly want to lift up our youth in prayer, we need to ask for a list of names and/or specific ministries to pray for.  Prayer works!

4. Ask How You Can Help

If we ask our Youth Leaders how we can help, I promise we will brighten their day.  They may have to get back to us, but they will get back to us with something!  At the end of the day, what we think is “nothing” could be the very thing that our leaders struggle with.

5. Selflessly Volunteer

We need to be willing to lose out...so that our youth experience God for themselves. #youthmin Click To Tweet It’s one thing to simply volunteer because youth ministry is fun (ie. YC).  It’s another thing to volunteer with a serving mentality.  The difference is WHY we’re present.  Servanthood is when we are serving others, not ourselves.  It means we volunteer to ensure our youth have the best experience possible.  We need to be willing to lose out on our experience so that our youth experience God for themselves.  That doesn’t mean we stop growing, that means we find another time and space to personally grow.  We need to learn to selflessly serve.

6. Support our Youth Pastors/Leaders

Whether they’re paid or unpaid, they need our full support.  That might mean simply thanking them and letting them know they’re doing a great job, to sacrificially sponsoring events like YC or Youth Camp so it costs less for teenagers to go, to keeping the youth group in mind when you’re upgrading your couch set (every youth leader wishes they had a “youth hangout area!”) Do something to show your support!

Your turn…

How will you support your youth?  Have I missed a great way to support our youth?   Comment below with an example…


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Persecution in Iraq: She’s Someone’s Little Girl

Reading Time: 5 minutes

“Out of sight; out of mind.”  That might work if we’re talking about shoving clutter into a closet, but there’s no way it can work if we’re talking about a Christian genocide & persecution in Iraq.

Getty Images - persecution in iraq

As the world watches, Christians are pushed out of their homes and dying because of their faith. Not only are they dying, but Christian families are being destroyed, children beheaded, women raped, and men hung and crucified because they refuse to convert to Islam.[i]

As soon as I heard of this horrific news, I could see history repeating itself and children being caught in the crossfire of extremist behaviour.  What should hit home more than anything else – “She’s Someone’s Little Girl”. Being a father of a baby girl, I can’t even begin to imagine what some parents are going through right now!  In fact, I can hardly read the words I’m typing with my tear filled eyes.

With little hope, Christian children are innocently experiencing a modern day remake of the darker episodes of history.

ISIS is marking Christian houses with an Arabic “N” (for Nasrani meaning “Christians”) to mark the dwellings as a captured Christian home.[ii]  Perhaps it is a biblical mockery of the Exodus story of the Israelites marking their doorposts in association with God’s people (Ex. 12:7)?

I thought of the unflattering history of the crusades by where both Christians and Muslims exchanged territorial power. Unfortunately, these actions were carried out in “the name of God”.  In reality, the wars between these two groups were generally founded in political gain rather than spiritual conviction. My point proven by the results – very little intentional positive gain on either side. The only thing we can agree on for sure  – people lost their lives.

I also thought of the more recent history of the horror of the Holocaust as Hitler set out to annihilate Jews and other minorities in search of the “perfect race”.  ISIS continues to kill all who refuse to convert to Islam, and capture and enslave those who pay a “fee”.[iii]  In reality, there is no choice.

Why can’t we learn from history and move forward?

Part of me is just as astonished at the thought process of ISIS as the actual acts they are committing.  The level of suffering they are inflicting on others just doesn’t make sense. And if it’s a religious conviction, it makes even less sense as Islam is founded on concepts such as peace.

Perhaps the answer lies more in the people asking the question than it does in the people ignoring the lessons of history.

Matthew West, in his song “Do Something”, makes a significant statement:

…I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you!”[iv]

What can WE DO to help?  Isn’t it up to those with “real power”, like the government?

As the world tries to figure out how to stop the inhumane actions of ISIS, there are things we can do:

1. We can pray. 
As a family, you can pray.  Bring your family together, hold your kids tight, hold the picture of your grandchildren, nephew, or niece, and pray together for the families experiencing chaos, loss and pain.  Some are fighting for their lives, some have lost loved ones, and some are living in converted fear.

Pray for ISIS.  Pray that God’s love and peace will surround them so they’re eyes are opened to acceptance.

In writing to the Romans, Paul wrote: “…I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18).  I pray that in the wake of suffering,  the HOPE found in Christians around the world, will transform everyone involved!

2. We can partner financially. 
As a family, you can give.  There are many organizations giving relief aid to those stranded  in and fleeing from Iraq.  A couple of groups in particular:

Samaritan’s Purse Canada — https://secure.samaritan.ca/Donation/Default.aspx?pc=013560
Save The Children Canada — https://www.savethechildren.ca/emergency .

If everyone gave a small donation, think of the impact we could make?

3. We can build awareness. 
Read, learn and share articles and news updates regarding this crisis.  The more attention is brought to this, the more the government and organizations will pay attention to what they can do.  Share this post and use the hashtag #WeAreN — letting the world know, we are supporting those suffering!

What are you going to do?  Will you ignore the cry for help, close this post, and say, “out of sight; out of mind”? …or will you take action and do something?

“She’s Someone’s Little Girl!”


[i] Leonardo Blair, “ISIS ‘Systematically Beheading Children’ in Iraq; They Are ‘Killing Every Christian They See,’ Says Chaldean Leader,” ChristianPost.com, http://www.christianpost.com/news/isis-systematically-beheading-children-in-iraq-they-are-killing-every-christian-they-see-says-chaldean-leader-124594/.

[ii] Catherine Harmon, “ISIS tags Christian homes in Mosul for confiscation as Christians flee,” The Catholic World Report, http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/3264/isis_tags_christian_homes_in_mosul_for_confiscation_as_christians_flee.aspx.

[iii] Reuters, “Convert, pay tax, or die, Islamic State warns Christians,” TheGuardian.com, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/18/isis-islamic-state-issue-ultimatum-to-iraq-christians.

[iv] Matthew West, “Do Something,” SongLyrics, http://www.songlyrics.com/matthew-west/do-something-lyrics/#LB73AF5rPCqLA0hQ.99.

**persecution in iraq

Message To My Mentors

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Today I reflect and write about the pastoral leaders and mentors above me.

I am so blessed to be a part of a fellowship that values the contribution of young pastors.  I may not have years of experience, and I know I’ll make plenty of mistakes along the way; however, their encouragement, support, accountability, and passion to see me succeed helps fuel me to actively seek God’s will and vision for the congregation I lead.

Encouragement

As I get ready to move into my third year at Bethel, I am constantly reminded of how my mentors and superiors have encouraged me in my ministry so far.  Not only have they encouraged me one-on-one, they have publicly announced my strengths and defended my weaknesses.  Experiencing that kind of encouragement has made my ministry highly successful so far, as I’ve  learned to expect encouragement in every conversation.

Support

“I’m just a phone call away,” is the phrase I hear from all of our mentors and superiors.  I may never see or understand things in the same way; however, I know for sure they give me their listening ear.  In talking with fellow pastors within our fellowship, having quality support is usually one of the main issues in their ministry.  I am proud to say, that I feel supported by the leaders above me.  They are ready to listen and I’m excited to share because of it.

Accountability

While I don’t want to hear it in the moment, the leaders above me hold me accountable.  I’m young and eager to be used by God, but I need and value mentors who keep me on track.  In order to move forward in God’s Kingdom, my mentors help bring balance into my ministry.  I’m thankful for the mentors in my life who bring balance by inspiring and moulding my eagerness, and not quenching it.

Next-Generation Mentorship

One of the most impressive leadership statements I’ve heard is, “I don’t lead for today, I lead for the next generation.”  This selfless concept decreases “our kingdom” and increases “God’s Kingdom!”  I’m proud to say I’ve witnessed the effects of this rare leadership mentality in our fellowship.  My mentors want me to succeed.  They want me to take things further than they did.  In fact, a measure of their success can be based on how far I was able to go.  My mentors may not fully understand the next-generation’s culture, but they certainly know our passion and want us to champion it!

Although I have not officially mentioned any names, you know who you are and how you continue to positively impact my ministry.

Thank you for leading with encouragement!
Thank you for being a listener!
Thank you for holding me accountable!
Thank you for mentoring me to surpass you!
…and never underestimate your leadership, because your influence impacts those around you! Because of your leadership, I’m inspired to lead the same way.

Moving forward…

No matter who you are, there is always someone looking up to you.  Everyone is a leader on some sort of level.  We need to recognize our leadership role and encourage, support and mentor those around us by holding each other accountable and expecting those we mentor to surpass us.  If we all do our part, God’s Kingdom will grow and His vision will sustain us.  Will you lead and be willing to be led?

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29 (ESV).