Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Milestone 4- Purity (part 2)

How can we help our students win the purity battle? One skirmish at a time. Often I lose the war in an area of my life because I try to take back what was lost in just one battle. We regain the ground the same way we gave it up. One step at a time. I can't get to a place tomorrow if I don't know where I am today. What areas have I given up in the area of purity? Often I can't begin to name all the places I left my character. A little here and a little there. This endeavor, that hobby, over there. Only God knows and so I begin by asking Him to find all the pieces to purity in the life of my student. (Good practice for this is asking God to re-unite all the pieces of my heart in the area of purity. He'll do it.)

Friends. What friendships do I need to encourage in the life of my student? Remember, our goal is purity. If our student doesn't have any good friends, that's where I start. Be creative in the way you inquire about friends. Get involved at whatever level you are allowed and work from there. If you vote your stock too soon by saying "because I'm your father", we'll suffer a set back. Ask questions. Don't preach sermons.

Dating and courtship. One comment: Treat your spouse in a way your student will want to treat their opposite sex friends. For the student, purity is modeled in the life of the parent.

Boundaries. Yes. And lots of them. Let students watch you build the fences. Talk to them so they know why we observe limitations. Many of our boundaries deal with issue of time. "When can I...?" Even as students grow up, talk about how important right timing is in every process of life

Celebrate Find one thing to remind students about purity. Every time they see that special object, hear a certain code word, or recall a person, they associate this image with a vow to purity. For some, it may be a ring or an annual event or a personal gift. I'll never forget a conversation with my father in the area of purity and faithfulness. When I wondered one time how he was able to remain faithful to my Mom. he responded, "Wasn't that what I was supposed to do?" Someone modeled purity for him and so I was able to model purity for my sons. Can it be this simple? Yes! Note: I didn't say is was easy.

Show me your friends and I'll show you your future.

Milestone 4- Purity

This is a tough one. Not because we can't experience purity in our life, but because the odds are against us. Barna & Gallup polls reveal that 9 out of 10 Christians do not live the Christ life they confess. That is pressure we don't need. The world values alone are hard combatants, but "we are our own worst enemy" when it comes to purity. Usually we associate purity with "things we do" but the headwaters of purity lie in the "things we are."

Students are looking in a lot of places for their identity and values. Often they leave home with one set of values (Dan & Mom's), usually good ones, only to jettison them along the way as they develop their own "new" set of values. Every day our students wrestle with surroundings of inferiority, conformity, independence and for sure, questions about love. How can we be pure in a impure world?

One word: FRIENDS! Andy Stanley said, "Show me your friends and I will tell you your future." What kind of friends do my son or daughter have? Do they support the pure values of God's Word? This not only refers to real friends, but made up friends also. TV, video and movie friends. Do you find it alarming that we will invite some people into our living rooms through a TV program that we would never allow through our front door? What kind of friends have I exposed my self and my family to?

Now that the TV is off, how can I help my student develop healthy friendships? Or, how can I help my child loosen the grip of wrong friends?

More in part 2.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Milestone 3- Preparing for Adolescence

Three things help guide this stage in our student's life:

  • Scripture

  • Peer Groups

  • Time

During this time, nothing lasts like scripture. The Bible is our best ally when it comes to preparation. There is more hope for understanding God's Word than there is understanding hormone changes, growth spurts, and increased appetites. A student's desire to belong gels during this time and the budget takes a huge hit if students wake up and decide they want to try and keep up with the latest fashion. During this time, be sure your student knows the value of God's Word, especially memorizing and owning it. If they know what God wants them to do, they'll think twice before doing what the wrong crowd is doing.

Peer groups are very influential. Try this: Change their peer group. Parents would do better if students looked up to their parents rather that friends who stand and fall at the least wind. This comes when parents spend time with their students. Please, don't give me the come back "I spend quality time (vs. Quantity time) with them." Any time spent with students is quality time. Be different and spend lots of time with them. The wrong peer group will do this if you don't want to do it. If you don't know what your students are doing, you're not spending time with them. Learn their likes, hangouts, tastes, and favorite music, books and videos. Be courageous if some of their desires need stern course corrections.

The last thing concerns time. Take time to help them see their value and worth. Take time to show them what is really important in life. Be sure, though, that our actions as parents back up our words. This is the greatest thing we can offer at this stage of life: consistency. Allow them time to be independent. This is a time of "firsts" for our students. First love (or crush). First time on their own (trip to mall with friends). First test of values, morals and trusts.

Help students interpret some of these changes even before they face them. Without judging people, take them to places to watch people and discuss actions, values and consequences. Perhaps select a place farther away from home so that the student can learn with a crowd they might not have contact with again. Help them to uncover the deceit in advertising, store front images and movies they might watch. There is no better use of time than these adolescent years.

Try the resource below for extend talks with your students on these issues:
╩║Preparing for Adolescence╩║ (Dr. James Dobson) • 738304 • 8 CD Album (includes 6 CDs for teen/pre‐teens, and 2 leadership CDs for parents)
Dr. Dobson brings the conversational warmth straight to you and your adolescent. Among the many topics

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Milestone 2 (continued)

Baptism is a beautiful picture of the inward commitment a person makes to follow Christ as Savior, but it is more. So often children will come and say, "I want to be baptized." What an opportunity that follows as parents can take them through the things they need to know and the actions they need to take. Sometimes they see someone baptized and want to do likewise, but they don't understand why a person is baptized.

I tell people to invite all their friends, family, unbelievers they know so everyone can see the commitment which has already been made to receive Jesus as Savior. Baptism is a celebration for everyone. It is the best opportunity a new believer has to tell a lot of people about their new life in Christ (Rom. 6:5) The word baptize means "to dip". People who were baptized in the New Testament "came up out of the water" following their "dipping."

Acts 8:37-39 (New American Standard Bible)
37And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."]
38And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.
39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.

According to the New Testament practice, baptism was by immersion or dipping and followed salvation.
Comments on Infant baptism: This isn't seen in the New Testament and was first mentioned in history 200 years after Christ Some practice this as as way of securing the infant's salvation until the child can be confirmed later as they have maturity in their understanding. Others practice infant baptism saying that a child is likely to become a believer as the parents demonstrate a Christ-likeness in the home. In either situation, a child has to make this decision concerning salvation for themselves
Baptism is to be a decision of the new believer after they receive Christ as Savior and not prior to salvation and certainly not a decision someone else makes for the child.
I remember the day I accepted God's gift of salvation on April 17, 1967 and was baptised the following Sunday. I celebrate that day every year. Make salvation and baptism a time of celebration.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Milestone 2

Milestone 2 Deals with Salvation and Baptism. Studies show that most people who receive Jesus as Savior do this between the ages of 6 & 12. The older a person gets the less likely they are to become a Christian. Perhaps your own experience reflects these findings. These are certainly God Moment years for our children, As Christian parents, we look forward to the days when our child becomes a Christian.

There are 3 things to concentrate on during this Milestone:
  1. We need to teach them what they need to know
  2. We need to be diligent (consistent & intentional) in teaching them what to do
  3. We need to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit

John 3:16 covers the first two:

  • God Loved
  • God Gave
  • We believe
  • We receive

As you get closer to this milestone, you will discover more about these two in the Parent Summit that will be planned later in the year.

What about the Holy Spirit in the part of salvation? God is always moving. As parents, our challenge is to pray (our greatest ally in Milestones) and watch (sometimes the hardest thing to do.)

Our prayers are to be centered on God's activity in our child's life. Is my child asking questions about spiritual things? Do I see them mimicking my activities (reading the Bible, praying, singing, etc.)? Do I see pieces of their spiritual journey coming together? This may be the activity of God's Spirit. Take every occasion to talk to your children when you see them showing interest or asking questions about things they see in church and worship.

Remember this: A child can believe what a child can believe. Their level of processing information is at a child's level of thinking. Don't expect them to think mature, adult thoughts about God. Frankly, their child-like thoughts are probably closer to God's ideals that our point of view.

Two cautions: Even though we may not see changes in our child's attitude toward spiritual things, they may still be picking up some ideas about God. Also, don't be tempted to force a decision on your child they are not ready to make. They may be able to give lots of examples of sin in general, but if they can't see their personal sin, the time may not be right. Let God continue to work.

More about celebration of Milestone 2 and baptism next time.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Milestone 1

Do you want your new born to learn how to clap? Start a celebration with clapping and praises like "Yeah for Sam" or "Yeah for Taylor," or whatever the name of your child. Soon they will join the celebration and add to the applause. This is Milestone 1, a Parent and Baby Celebration. It's a time for the parents to celebrate their responsibility as the primary Faith Trainers of their children. Periodically in the year, Anderson Mill will have a dedication service where parents affirm their roles in training and the church affirms its part in praying for the family. Milestone 1 is part of our worship on those special days.

Prior to the celebration comes one of the first equipping sessions with Pastor Rod as he guides the parents down the path to maturity. Yes, this is mandatory because the Bible is very serious about training this new generation according to Deut. 6:4-7. The vision begins to clarify and parents are challenged to provide spiritually for their child. New parents feel a sense of urgency when the first child comes. They want the very best they can supply.

The walk down the Legacy path takes on meaning. In this first Milestone, parents learn about Faith Talks, God Moments and Celebrating Milestones. As God's special gifts to parents, children need parents, not friends or caretakers, to be the "hands on" people in their life. This is why children are dedicated to the Lord and By His Word during this special day.

You're on the way!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Family Ministry

Last Sunday, Pastor Rod spoke about Legacy Milestones, a strategy for raising up disciples in your home. Children today often see religion from a once a week, "in the box experience" point of view. Milestones spreads a vision for the parents to be the primary faith trainers, the home being the primary place of training and the church being the equipper of the parents. All of this comes from Deut. 6:4-7. Even one-parent families are successful in making disciples at home as they partner with the church, mentors and support groups.

Every step is important and provides order to the Great Commission in Matt: 28:18-20. No longer can families out source their responsibilities to others or even to the church when it comes to raising up the next godly generation. Parents shouldn't allow their irresponsibility to become another's responsibility. Examine the milestones in the next few blogs. Purpose to commit your ways to the Lord.

Special thanks to Brian Haynes and Kingsland Baptist Church.
A Hot Air Balloon over Anderson Mill

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Billy Graham Call Center!

It was February 14, 2005, when Anderson Mill opened our first call center for receiving national phone calls through the Billy Graham Telecast. That first night, with trembling and trust, 6 phones rang for almost 2 hours and we received 29 phone calls from all over the US and Canada. Over the next three nights, 3 dozen volunteers would be trained to pray, receive phone calls and help people make their next step toward God. Nine people received Christ as Savior the first night. What an exciting adventure!

Since then, our call center has answered 1,765 calls and helped share the gospel so that 657 people could pray to ask Christ to be their Savior. Our center helped train and start two other centers in Austin at sister churches during the past 5 years. Volunteers from area churches are partnered with Anderson Mill each time the call center opens.

Thank you, Anderson Mill, for making it possible to so many to be a part of this nation-wide network of call centers each month. Pray about joining this exciting ministry in 2010 and you too can answer the phones with us, “Hello. This is the Billy Graham Telephone Center. My name is Al. Did you call to receive Christ as your personal Savior?”

Contact Al Magness:
amagness@ambcaustin.org 512-258-5843 X 104 or go to http://www.ambcaustin.org/ for more information.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Leaders who refuse to listen, will soon find themselves surrounded by those who have nothing important to say."

" He who has ears, let him hear." Did the people around Jesus listen to what was being said? They heard what they wanted to hear. They didn't hear "between the lines." How can I be a great listener?
First, make sure the conversation isn't having to compete with things which are distracting. Turn the cell phone off. Close the door. Turn off the TV or radio. Set aside my agenda. Good listeners hear what's being said. Great listeners show the other person we are getting what is being said by giving them our undivided attention. Body language speaks louder that words.
Second, repeat (in summary) what was said. Allow the other person to hear what you believe they said and ask for confirmation. Acknowledge any corrections that were made.
Third, ask if there is anything else that needs to be said. Often the first thing that is said, may not be the most important thing. Or the talker may have forgotten something they intended to say. Be very slow to close out an appointment until everything has been said.
Finally, thank the other person for their investment of time. Then act on what was shared. That doesn't always mean we have to fix something. Listening is part of the process of communication. Sometimes listening is the most important part of decision making, problem solving or relationship building.

Purpose to be a great listener, then act like one. Good listeners attract good leaders.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lord, You got me into this!

How do we remained focused in uncertain times? These past few months many of us have experienced uncertain times. Lost jobs, lost health, lost relationships and a shaky outlook for tomorrow. Lord, You got me into this. Sometimes we get into a situation that seems to have no way out. Can't move forward, to the right or to the left. We're stuck! "I thought I had a plan."

When the plan doesn't seem to be working, don't be afraid to admit, "It was a bad plan." I wish I had abandoned some plans earlier than I did, but sometimes we will think it more honorable to die on the hill of our plan.

The problem with plans is that they are subject to change. Just ask all those travelers who had their plans interrupted by record snow falls in the east. Realize that vision needs to be stable. Plans need to be flexible. Failure in a plan doesn't mean it was a bad vision. Our vision may be to work toward a lifestyle that will honor God, provide for my family and fund my ministry. Plans may help us through specific time, but sometimes they rarely endure to the end. Vision endures.

Don't let "changed plans" derail us as we move toward the vision.
Hebrews 12:2 (NASB)

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We are to fix our eyes. Establish the vision God has for you. Make plans, but allow God to change them as needed.

"Lord, you got me into this. I'm trusting You to see me through this."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

When You Feel Overwhelmed

Jesus was on the Mount of Olives overlooking the Temple Area in Jerusalem. He was talking to his "Core +1" Group, Peter , James John and Andrew. He was helping His disciples work through and be prepared for an overwhelming feeling they would soon have, if they didn't have it already. Perhaps we have had similar feelings of walking up to an airplane wreck with a box of band aids and a tube of triple antibiotic ointment.

For months, Jesus had tried to prepare these guys for what was to come, and now it was time. Jesus told the disciples in Mark 13:9 "be on guard." Imagine getting a Hallmark Greeting Card with something like this, "Enjoy the day because tomorrow you will be ..." and you open the inside of the card and read, "... handed over to angry men, flogged, arrested, betrayed, hated, and Oh, Have a great day!" Talk about being overwhelmed. They were! Try fixing that situation with a band aid.

What Jesus said next was the right prescription: "don’t worry beforehand what you will say. On the contrary, whatever is given to you in that hour—say it. For it isn’t you speaking, but the Holy Spirit."

All these things would happen to these guys in a few short days. And sure enough, the Holy Spirit was right on time. Here's the point: We can not afford to worry about the past or the future. We are only given grace for today. Perhaps it is good that we don't know how tomorrow will unfold for us.

Use this day as a day of serving others. TIP: Serve others who are overwhelmed and you'll make a lifelong friend.
The picture above is Cheyenne Mountain, the home of NORAD.
It is always good to be prepared and NORAD helps the United States
stay prepared for any emergency from outside governments.

Friday, February 5, 2010

"Not Bad" Isn't Good Enough

"Not bad." I hear this sometimes when someone thinks they have completed a "pretty good" attempt at a task or project. Or it may sound like this, "Well, I'm not a bad person." Thank God that the gospel doesn't give us an opportunity to be graded on a curve, or it wouldn't be "good news" for eternity.

"9 out of 10 isn't bad." When we share the good news with other people, the gospel offers hope not odds. It is 100% sure that with Jesus as Savior, a person will go to heaven. Period. That's the best news we can share with people. 100% of the time. 100% of the people who accept Jesus as Savior go to heaven. How would you like to live a life that has based it's future hope on , "Well, I hope I go to heaven"?

We can know with certainty, today, right NOW!

1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you
who believe in the name of the Son of God,
so that you may know that you have eternal life.

The Railyard at Santa Fe, New Mexico