November 24, 2008

Free Ministry Resources from Fuller Youth Institute

The following resources are available through Fuller Youth Institute's Curriculum Resources page:

30-Hour Famine Curriculum
"Released in fall 2007, this new adaptation of the 2006 One Life curriculum focuses specifically on combating hunger and poverty through the lenses of nurturing students to become lifetime kingdom followers. With many new opportunities to engage students in discussion, prayer, and action on behalf of the poor, this highly-adaptable curriculum can be used in any justice-seeking ministry."

Vision Generation Curriculum
     for Grades 1-6
     for Grades 7-12 
"A year’s worth of monthly resources for worship, prayer, and action. Use these ideas interspersed throughout your year to continually engage students in catching God’s vision for caring for the poor and oppressed around the world and in their neighborhoods."

One Life Curriculum - this link also includes links to other resources on HIV/AIDS (scroll down below the curriculum downloads)
"Working alongside youth workers and mission organization leaders, FYI spent over a year researching issues related to AIDS in Africa, theological constructs related to the kingdom of God, and strategies for mobilizing kids to care about justice and world concerns. We wrapped all of this up into a curriculum that was field-tested in real youth ministries during the development process before being published by Youth Specialties, World Vision, and FYI (formerly CYFM) in a unique partnership. Now it’s available for free download on our site."

World AIDS Day 2008: 6,000 Reasons to Act (you must provide your name and e-mail address to receive the World AIDS Day resources)
"FYI, the Willow Creek Association, and World Vision have teamed up to create FREE downloadable resources for World AIDS Day, which occurs December 1. Specially designed for adult small groups, this interactive resource features a one-lesson format that will lead groups through a discussion around AIDS in the face of poverty. This curriculum can be used by your whole church, including students and their parents, to engage in AIDS and other global issues of justice."

We haven't used any of these yet, but we will be taking a look at them. If you have used any of these resources or use them in the future, I would love to know what you think of them.


November 11, 2008

A Powerful Marriage Testimony

Cindy Beall at is sharing a section of her story every day; she started this yesterday. It is actually a short book entitled "Life After Porn: A Redemption Story" that she was unable to get published. This is one of the most powerful testimonies of a restored marriage that I have ever read. If you decide to read it, have a box of tissue nearby. Although she is sharing a chapter every day, you can still see all of the chapters here if you can't wait. I read the whole thing in one sitting several months ago. I would recommend reading the introduction too; I don't think she posted it this time.

NOTE: Young people should not read this without their parents permission, and I recommend that parents preview it before letting their children read it.

Be blessed!

November 5, 2008

What do we do now?

I have read such varied Christian opinions before Tuesday's election, many of them extremely passionate and not very kind to the "opposition." However, the election is now over, and regardless of who we voted for, as Christians we have some choices and responsibilities before us.

First of all, let's remember this and be encouraged: We have come a long way from slavery by electing a biracial president! Our country has some major moral issues, and racism is still one of them, but the outcome of yesterday's election was truly momentous. African Americans were oppressed in this country for 400 years. There was a time when voters would not have even considered a biracial president whether or not they agreed with his views. This is a huge step in the area of racism, so let's rejoice with our African American brothers and sisters.

Next, are we going to submit to, honor and pray for the man that God has placed in authority?

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor." Romans 13:1-7

Sure, this is "the verse" (or one of them) on submitting to our governmental authorities. It is pretty clear in Romans that God is ultimately the one who appoints rulers and that we are to submit to them. We talk a lot about the need for wives to submit to and honor their husbands; are we willing to obey the just-as-direct command of God to submit to and honor our new future president?

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." 1 Timothy 2:1-2

and I love the next part:

"This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 3-4

Again, there is no question that we are to pray for our rulers. Do we realize that we do not serve a puny God? Can we even fathom his vastness and greatness? Why are we here anyway? To worry about our rights as citizens of America? To expect the government to do the job Jesus gave to the Church? To cower in fear if the government isn't upholding "Christian" values? No, we are here to be bearers of the Good News of Christ; to show His love to those who don't know Him; "to preach good news to the bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners..." (Isaiah 63:1)

"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king." 1 Peter 2:13-17

Another verse emphasizing the need to submit to those in authority, but I included it because I thought it was interesting that "love the brotherhood of believers" was lumped in with fear God and honor the king.

In John 13:34-35, Jesus said that His disciples will be known by their love for each other. 1 John repeatedly admonishes us to love one another. Where does the Bible say that it is okay for us to belittle and accuse brothers and sisters in Christ who focus on different issues in an election than we do because they live in very different circumstances that we might not even understand? Have we as Christians shown love to each other during this election? I have seen a lot of misunderstanding and even hate between brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not right or Godly.

I know Christians who voted for a candidate because they always vote a certain way (both Democrats and Republicans). I also know Christians who prayerfully labored over and researched their decision. I know some Christians who voted for Obama, veering from a pro-life vote for the first time. I know others who voted for McCain after diligently seeking the Lord. I know of other Christians who voted for another candidate because the Lord put it on their hearts to do so. Is it possible that God put different candidates on believers' hearts because He is more concerned about our obedience than He is about who becomes president of the United States? What if He really is God and He has plans that we couldn't possibly understand? What if He doesn't want us to vote for a candidate in the hope that the government will end abortion or take care of the poor? Maybe He wants us, His Church, to do that.

I was struck by the fact that 1 Peter 9-12 (just before the verses I quoted above) says,

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us."

Let's not forget that we are the Church! We are God's ambassadors on Earth. Although we live here, our hope is not in this world or our government. And our jurisdiction exceeds the boundaries of the United States!

Whose job is it to minister to women who are looking for love and not finding True Love, to the poor and needy, etc? It is our job as the Church to do this, not the government's. No government is the ambassador of God. Is it possible that we have been abdicating our God-given commands in the Great Commission by thinking that a vote for a certain type of candidate is going to take care of ministering for us? Is it possible that God's heart is for life (all life) and social justice? If so, then maybe we need to repent and get to work!

So, what do we do now? Do we believe that our job is over because the election is over? What if our hearts beat for the unborn? There are so many ways to minister to women and teenage girls before and during a "crisis" pregnancy. If we voted for Obama in hopes that he would take care of the poor, let's not leave it up to his administration: Let's go out ourselves and show the love of Christ to people in need. The government may be able to make it more difficult to have abortions or implement programs to help the needy, but it will never and never was intended to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20) Let's heed the calling of Jesus!

I have read some great responses to the election that I wanted to share: