Moving back to the great state of Indiana

The rumor mill is true.  After 5 years of Atlanta living, I am moving back to the great state of Indiana.  Here’s the scoop….

Seth Maust, a Cadre member and dear friend of mine from my ministry days at Granger, has asked me to help him launch a leadership school for his organization, Five Star.  Five Star works inside the middle schools helping kids realize they are meant to live five star lives.  In large and small group formats, they teach them the five core values of Respect, Integrity, Courage, Sacrifice, and Responsibility.  Right now Five Star is in 14 middle schools and has 1,400 students participating in the program, not including the 500 on the waiting list.  While it’s currently only in the Michiana area (north central Indiana and south central Michigan), our next stop is most likely Houston, TX.  My job will be to bring young 20-somethings alongside us, help them catch the Five Star DNA, and then launch them into new schools, in new locations.  No small task, but I am excited and up for the challenge.

I will be transitioning by July 1.  There is no story behind the story.  My five years in Atlanta have been some of my best ever.  I leave Jeanne in great hands with some MC Atlanta students I have trained up along the way, along with the incredible addition of her son, Josh, and the team at the church.  Know that I adore the Cadre, love the Master’s Commission students, and am so privileged to work alongside a staff that truly loves each other.   While it is hard to leave, between the opportunity before me and the chance to be near family, I couldn’t resist.

Noah: Let it be said of you too…

Adam’s Descendants to Noah – Chapter 5

Adam, then Seth, then Enosh, then Kenan, then Mahalalel, then Jared, then Enoch, then Methuselah, Lamech, Noah.  Noah didn’t have Shem, Ham, and Japheth until he was 500 years old!

Interesting in genealogy, only with Enoch does the genealogy stop to say “Enoch walked with God…” and “Enoch walked with God and then he was not, for God took him.”

Life span of man cut in half after flood (from 900 to 450ish), then halved again 4 generations later (from 450 to 225ish).

Increasing Corruption on Earth – Chapter 6

“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that EVERY intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And the Lord was SORRY that he had made man on the earth, and it GRIEVED him to his HEART.”

The sadness must have been overwhelming.  Watching ONE kid go south is tough, let alone ALL of them.

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.  It was said, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation.  Noah WALKED with God.”

It says, “for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” and “The earth was filled with violence.”

How did that happen?  God then gives Noah specific instructions on building the ark and mentions a coming covenant.

Jealousy strikes!

Cain and Abel – Genesis Chapter 4

Cain brought the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. The Lord says to Cain, “sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” But, Cain ends up killing his brother, Abel.

And God gives Adam and Eve another son, Seth. Eve attributes it to God. It goes on to say, “At that time people begin to call upon the name of the Lord.”

a. When we give God our “firsts,” it represents where He is in our lives.
b. When the Lord rebukes us, we can get BITTER or we can get BETTER. Cain got bitter.
c. Half-hearted devotion leads to sin.
d. While sin is out there, we have the POWER to rule over it but need to CHOOSE to.
e. Jealousy kills! Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. It cost Cain big time!
f. Eve attributes birth of Seth to God. Maybe after Abel and Cain, Eve grew up. Maybe she understand, for the first time, the pain of the Father’s (mother’s) heart.

Wow! That Hurt On So Many Different Levels

[I am backed up on posting my daily thoughts, but here are the first 3 days of my actual reading of God’s Word. At a minimum, I am shooting for a chapter a day. Chapter 3 was huge in my life and had a ton of GREAT reminders.]

Genesis chapters 1-11 could be described as a survey of the world before Abraham. Chapters 12-50 focus on one main family line in considerable detail. Other ancient nonbiblical stories do exist recounting stories about both creation and the flood. In ancient literary traditions, creation is a struggle often involving conflict between the gods. The flood was sent because the gods could not stand the noise made by human beings, yet they could not control it.

These chapters should act as eyeglasses so that readers focus on the points their author is making and go on to read the rest of the Bible in light of them.

Chapter 1
Day 1: Let there be light…and it was good. There was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Day 2: God created the expanse and called it Heaven (sky in NIV).

Day 3: He created the Earth (land in NIV) and Seas…and it was good. Vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed…and it was good. (multiplication)

Day 4: Sun, moon and stars to give light to the earth and to mark the seasons…and it was good.

Day 5: Fish/creatures of the sea and birds…and it was good. Told them to be fruitful and multiply. (multiplication)

Day 6: Livestock/creeping things/beasts of the earth…and it was good. Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plan for food.” And it was so. …And it was VERY good.

Chapter 2
Day 7: God rested and made it holy.

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. He placed him in a garden. The tree of life and tree of good and evil were in the midst of the garden (the river of Eden divided out of it into four: Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates). Lord, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

The Lord had man give names to all livestock and to the birds of the heaven and to every beast of the field. But there was no helper fit for him. So, the Lord put him to sleep, took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And He made woman from the rib. Adam regarding Eve, “Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become ONE flesh.

Chapter 3
Serpent to Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Serpent playing dumb) Eve, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Serpent, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desire to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Most of chapter 2, God is called “Lord God.” In chapter 3, the serpent only referred to Him as “God.”

It indicates Eve “saw” that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes. Tells us she might of checked it out for the first time with the serpent right then and there.

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” Adam blames Eve for eating from the tree and Eve blames the serpent. God specifically has words for the serpent, Eve, and Adam.

MY THOUGHTS (some very random):

1. SABBATH (Chapter 2):
I stink at it. I need to figure that one out.

2. OWNERSHIP (Chapter 2):
God had Adam name all the animals. Giving people ownership is not only a huge “How to get buy-in” leadership principle, it tells us…more importantly…God wanted to do this “with us.”

3. LOVE, OBEDIENCE AND A “HEALTHY” FEAR (Chapter 2):
God desires for us to REPETITIVELY CHOOSE to love and obey. And, I would imagine, as with all fathers, to have a “healthy” fear (or respect) of Him so that when our flesh (pride, selfishness, insecurity, whatever) wants to disobey, we will “choose not to choose” to go against His Will. He will not force us to LOVE Him or OBEY Him. God wants us to trust Him, as our heavenly Father, to have our best interest in mind.

Andy Stanley says, “When we see as God sees, we’ll do as God says.” When our eyes are selfishly (or fearfully) on ourselves, we can’t see as God sees, which makes it hard to do as God says.

One way to see as God sees is to know how/what He sees. Apart from the Holy Spirit, the only way to do that is by reading His Word. Luke 24:45 says, “Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” In my words, “Then He opened my mind so I could see how He sees (by understanding the Scriptures).” Well, that’s my prayer anyway.

4. WOW! THE FALL HURT ON SO MANY DIFFERENT LEVELS (Chapter 3):
Serpent to Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Serpent playing dumb) Eve, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Serpent, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desire to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

a. First time I noticed it says “she also gave some to her husband who was WITH her.” Ouch! Oh the challenges of a divided heart.

b. “Did God actually say…” As if, should God not specifically prohibit it, it gives one permission. While different situation, I think we do that…figure out how to get around the “heart” of God’s intent.

c. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened.” Satan challenged Eve on whether God had her best interest in mind. She did not “choose not to choose” when tempted. The desire to “choose” not to live under authority will always lie within us.

d. “and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Jealousy of those stronger, faster, wiser, more gifted lies within us as well.

e. Most of chapter 2, God is called “Lord God.” In chapter 3, the serpent only referred to Him as “God.” How someone addresses the Lord should be a clear indicator of how “deeply” you listen to them.

f. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes…” Adam and Eve took steps toward the tree. If you dance with sin, you’ll sin. Moral of the story: Flee, baby, flee.

g. God took walks in the Garden, presumably to hang out with Adam and Eve. Wow! Because of redemption, we can still walk with Him.

h. But unrepented sin will separate us from God, make us afraid and cause us to blame others for our mistakes. Repent!

i. Eve pulled Adam in. Adam was supposed to be stronger/the leader, but instead of preventing or fleeing he ended up succumbing. The smallest can take down the strongest if we fail to realize our status. Sin loves company.

j. God gave Adam the opportunity to confess by asking a simple question, “Where are you?” vs. just telling him “I know what you’ve done.” Adam ended up blaming, not confessing his part in the sin. He blamed both Eve and God (“the woman whom YOU gave to be with me”). How well do I blame-shift?

k. What an interesting question, “Where are you?” Maybe that’s should be the “question of the day” each evening, “Where are you, Judy”…not physically, but spiritually.

l. It sounded like Adam didn’t really seek to truly understand the “why behind God’s what”. Regardless we are to submit, but seeking to understand the heart of the Lord is a big deal.

m. God says to Adam, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you…” While we are to seek counsel from people, it should be secondary to seeking counsel from the Lord. And, if the counsel ever doesn’t like up with God’s word, throw it out.

n. The Lord still did not abandon, he made clothes for them out of skins vs. the fig leaves they had used initially (note: something had to die to cover up their sin), but things would change, especially when it comes to unrepented sin. The Lord must have been utterly devastated. Based on the verses, it sounds like his initial sadness turned to righteous anger.

o. The marriage issues that the fall created are disastrous. Both abandoned their roles, strife abounds.

p. One of the hardest things to do is ask forgiveness when we’ve failed God or another. No where do you see Adam swallowing his pride and saying, “I am so sorry, I was wrong.”

q. When we sin, we think God doesn’t want anything to do with us. But in the case it was quite the opposite, He purposefully puts Himself in a place to meet with them. It’s us who want to run.

r. While sin has it’s “moment” of pleasure (like with Eve, it looks good), the thought of “breaking the heart of the Father” (along with a “healthy” fear) should prevent us from “seeking or acting on it.”

s. Everything Adam and Eve were capable of, so am I. My decisions determine my destiny.

In the beginning…

Genesis. In Greek it means “origin.” In Hebrew it means “In the Beginning.” Traditionally, like the rest of the Pentateuch, has been ascribed to Moses (challenged later on). Envision these stories being read to the people at the great festivals in Jerusalem, or recited by visiting Levites in the villages throughout the land. Christians call the first 5 books “the Pentateuch,” Jews call them “the Law” or “torah.” The overall theme of the Pentateuch is God’s covenant with Israel through Moses, which established Israel as a theocracy (a nation where God’s directives rule the civil, social, and religious spheres) for the sake of the whole world. Genesis is foundational to the Pentateuch and the Pentateuch is foundational to the Bible.

Divided into two major sections (1) primeval history of the world before Abraham; (2) history of the patriarchs. As Genesis describes how the earth’s population increases over many generations, the reader’s attention is constantly being directed toward one particular person in each generation and his descendants.

The theme is creation, sin, and re-creation.

Grasping the big picture of Genesis is very important. Central to this picture is the family line that forms the backbone of the entire book.

With the coming of Jesus Christ, the national theocracy of Israel is replaced by an international royal priesthood that includes, Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles (1 Peter 2:9).

Intro talks about how long a “day,” back in the day…my interpretation of what they are saying, “it doesn’t matter.” Frequently, readers may ask questions, legitimate in themselves, that are not answered by the text. Genesis does not tell, for instance, how the serpent came to be God’s enemy or where Cain found a wife. Consequently, one’s natural curiosity must be correctly channeled, for the inspired author of Genesis intentionally communicates only certain things. Yet the text does not cease to be the Word of God simply because it is limited in what it tells the reader, it need not be exhaustive in order to be true.

The modern reader receives Genesis best, then, when he or she cooperates with Moses’ own purpose in writing the book. It is the front end of the grand narrative of creation, fall and redemption. The story is of a good world made by a good God and man’s role in that world, the story of how the stain of sin affects everything, the story of how God intends to reverse those effects.

10 Ways Your Children’s (Student) Ministry Can Influence Families by Dale Hudson

Found on churchleaders.com website.

Influence a kid and you will change a life…
influence parents and you will change a home.

It’s a given our children’s (student) ministries influence kids. But are we influencing families? When our influence is expanded to the entire family, we can see exponential impact. Here are ten ways to expand your influence to the entire family.

1. Be prepared to minister to families when they are going through difficult times.

God wants to work through you to influence families when they are at the hospital…when they are seeking counseling…when they are mourning at the funeral home…when they are in financial crisis.

2. Give parents easy-to-use discipleship resources and tools.

Many parents feel like they can’t effectively disciple their children unless they are a Bible scholar. Encourage parents by providing them simple, user-friendly resources.

3. Don’t add too much to their already crazy, busy schedules and guilt them for not being there.

Families make choices with their time. If you are constantly expecting them to be at the church for extra programs or events, they can become disheartened and overwhelmed.

4. Strategically look at their family calendars when planning your church calendar.

Take into consideration holidays, days school is out, 3 day weekends, spring breaks, graduation dates, etc. when planning. Make sure you place key events, classes, etc. at times when it won’t be competing with other family events.

5. Partner with other ministries.

Become best friends with student ministry, adult ministry, women’s ministry, and men’s ministry. Work closely with them and together create a strategy to influence families. Here’s an example. We sat down with adult ministries and shared with them the child dedication class dates for next year. They purposely created parenting and marriage classes that will roll out of the child dedication class dates.

6. Set up key, family milestones you celebrate with them.

There are key times in a family’s life when they swing the doors wide open and invite you to bring influence into their home. Set up classes and celebrations for milestones like child dedication, baptism, pre-teen passage, high school graduation, etc.

7. Be just as intentional about building relationships with parents as you are with kids.

Spend intentional time talking with parents, going to adult ministry activities, attending adult worship, etc. When you build relationships with parents, you open their hearts to receive your influence.

8. Find out their needs as a family.

What are they struggling with? What challenges are they dealing with as parents? What is their home life like? How can you best minister to them? This is done through the step above as you build relationships with families and spend time listening to them. You can also host a parent focus group a few times a year and intentionally ask these type questions.

9. Provide opportunities for families to serve together.

At church…in the community…families are looking for opportunities to serve together. Create family service opportunities and projects.

10. Provide events for families to enjoy together.

Family activity nights…family worship nights…family camps…family concerts…all great ways to get families together so you can speak into their lives.

Ouch! That’s what they should be saying about me/Christians

[FYI…For titles, I choose a line or a thought resulting from my daily reading. I am still in the introduction parts of the ESV Bible. Tomorrows reading is from the “Introduction To Genesis”. It’s long so I’ll probably divide into two. I am defiitely a SLOWWWWWWW reader.]

12.30.11
The PENTATEUCH consists of the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). The Hebrew term for it is TORAH (“law” or “instruction”).

The Pentateuch as Foundational to the Whole Bible
1. Orientation. Sets the tone, “polytheism” (multiple God’s) is not where it’s at.
2. Divine Purposes. Adam and Eve’s sin sets back the divine program but does not defeat it. God later calls Abraham.
3. Theology and ethics. Gives insight into God’s character and ethical standards. It illustrates both his benevolence and his righteousness.

Content
Center of gravity is the law-giving at Sinai. The central section suggests that at its core is God’s filling the newly built tabernacle as a visible demonstration of his choice of and intimacy with Israel—a restoration of the situation in the Garden of Eden, where God walked with Adam and Eve.

[My own thought: WALK WITH ME. Daily, God is still wanting to take walks with us like He did in the garden with Adam and Eve. Sadly, the chaos and noise of life fail to enable us to hear the daily invite.]

[My own thought: IT’S A BIG DEAL. The temple was a place of both beauty and fear. Beauty as God’s dwelling place full of silver and gold. The inner courts, as I imagine them, you did not enter into lightly. The last thing you would want to do is defile the temple. If I am the dwelling place of the Lord, how seriously do I take it…how much do I value it?]

Moses was only granted a vision of the promise land.

[My own thought: LIFE IS A RELAY RACE. We are clearly only running a portion of the race…and that race is NOT A SPRINT OR A MARATHON, but a RELAY RACE. The question is, “How well am I running my portion…and…how well will I had off the baton.]

The first avalanche of sin led to the universal judgment of the flood (Noah-before Moses).

[My own thought: LET’S TRY THIS AGAIN. Was the flood like a Second Genesis (or declaration of a false start) and in the end, after a failed second attempt, did God throw up his hands and say, “Ok, let’s just work with what we’ve got and we’ll tweek it/them along the way. Probably not. I am quickly understanding why it takes me FOREVER to read anything…mind-driftttttting]

Time Span
Archbishop User calculated the creation of the world occurred in 4004 B.C. Exodus is believed to occur around 1447 – 1270 B.C. [Really, no one knows]

Theme
God promises Abraham four things: (1) Land to live in; (2) numerous descendants; (3) blessing for himself; (4) blessing through him for all the nations of the world.

Each time God appears to the patriarchs, the promises are elaborated and made more specific. The fulfillment of these promises to Abraham constitutes the story line of the Pentateuch.

[My thought: Interesting TOUGH START: The patriarchs’ wives – Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel – all have trouble conceiving. But when they take the first census, they total 603,550 fighting men (Numbers 1:46).]

The Pentateuch is a story of divine mercy to a wayward people. (Abraham lied about Sarah and allowed her to be taken by a foreign king, the pair escape, greatly enriched. Jacob cheats his father but returns with great flocks and herds to a forgiving brother. Israel breaks the first two commandments by making the golden calf, yet God still dwells among them in the tabernacle.)

However, alongside this account of God’s grace must be set the importance of the law and right behavior. The opening chapters of Genesis set out the pattern of life that everyone should follow: monogamy, Sabbath observance, rejection of personal vengeance and violence.

Israel was chosen to mediate between God and the nations and to demonstrate in finer detail what God expected of human society, so that other peoples would exclaim, “What great nation has a god so near to it…? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law…?” (Deuteronomy 4:7-8)

[My thought: OUCH! THAT’S WHAT THEY SHOULD BE SAYING ABOUT ME/CHRISTIANS.]

To encourage Israel’s compliance with all the law revealed at Sinai, it was embedded in a covenant. These covenantal principles—that God will bless Israel when she keeps the law and punish her when she does not—pervade the rest of the OT. The book of Joshua demonstrates that fidelity to the law led to the successful conquest of the land, while the books of Judges and Kings show that Israel’s apostasy to other gods led to defeat by her enemies.

Jesus is the second Adam. He is the true Israel (Jacob), whose life sums up the experience of the nation. But preeminently Jesus is seen as the new and greater Moses. As Moses declared God’s law for Israel, so Jesus declares and embodies God’s word to the nations. As Moses suffered and died outside the land so that his people could enter it, so the Son of God died on earth so that his people might enter heaven. It was observed that the filling of the tabernacle with the glory of God was the center of the Pentateuch. So too “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory” (John 1:14).

The goal of the entire Bible is that humans everywhere should glorify the God whose glory has confronted them. Lost sight of in Eden, this goal reappears through Moses, on its way to final fulfillment through Christ.