Theology and You This Coming Year

We are getting to the end of the year when almost every Christian I know resolves to read the Bible through again the next year. I'm not sure how many times that has been one of my yearly goals. Do you do that?

If you are like me, you get into periods of your life in which you read the Bible like crazy, only to be followed by times when you go for a while without reading it like you should. Sometimes, I think, we don't realize what our Bible study is actually supposed to do for our lives. We sometimes just do it our of habit or because someone else has told us about its importance for our lives.

God's goal for us has to do with so much more than just reading through the Bible in a year.

One of my theology professors gave me me this idea of how theology is meant to function. The Bible, or our study of theology, is supposed to impact our head, heart, hands, and habitat.

Let me explain:

  • Head: God's Word is to renew the way we think. Our sinful minds think a certain way, but the Bible is meant to come into our heads and cause us to think God's thoughts. We are to meditate on Scripture in order to reprogram the way we think and align our thoughts to His thoughts.
  • Heart: The truth of the Bible is to reside in our hearts so that we come to love the truth that we know in our minds. The affections, or the part of us that values things, must see the truth of the Bible as something that is precious. Our hearts come to love what God loves and hate what He hates.
  • Hands: After coming to know God's Word in our minds and loving it with our hearts, we begin to live according to those truths that we have come to know and love. Our actions are influenced by our affections, and having come to love God's truth, we will begin to live it out with our hands.
  • Habitat: When we live according to what God's truth tells us, we begin to have an impact on our habitat. Our families, coworkers, friends, and neighborhoods will be impacted as our lives are restructured according to the truth of God.

As you begin a new year, may you resolve to allow God's Word to influence your head, penetrate your heart, guide your hands, and impact your habitat.

A Christmas Miracle Video

It’s incredible what can happen when we take the time to listen to people. That is exactly what WestJet, a Canadian airline, did at Christmastime.

They set up a virtual Santa Claus at the gate of a flight. The passengers would scan their boarding pass, and Santa asked them what they wanted for Christmas. This wasn’t just for the kids. It was for all of the passengers. Everyone thought it was fun and games until they got to their final destination.

While they were in the air, WestJet took the list, shopped for what was on it, and wrapped up the presents for the passengers. Watch the video below.

There are so many things that can be said about this. Sure, it is a publicity stunt by an airline, but at the same time, it shows that they care for their passengers. They took the time to listen and use what they learned to give something personal to those who asked. We could learn a lot just from that lesson alone. Instead of guessing what people are thinking, why don’t we take the time to listen?

On the other hand, this video reminds me of the verse in the Bible that says, “You do not have, because you do not ask.” I’m not saying we should ask God for a big TV, but we do have many reasons to cling to Him and ask Him for provision. We simply ignore the fact that God is there with the desire to listen to us. Take some time this Christmas to talk with Him. He will listen.

A Bit of a Transition

While we were in the USA I attended the Youth Ministry International annual board meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. Randy Smith, the president of YMI, has invited me to work as the vice president of training operations. Earlier this year, the former vice president resigned, and there is a lot of work to be done to maintain the various programs that are taking place around the world.

After much prayer and consideration, I accepted the position with the condition that I could continue in my work as the director of training for Latin America. So, having returned to Mexico to continue teaching and training here, I am also fulfilling responsibilities as the vice president which include caring for our missionary families around the world and helping them thrive in their ministries. There is more to the job description, and I am looking forward to seeing how God continues to bless the ministry of YMI not only in Latin America, but in other parts of the world as well.

Ever since we first began this missionary journey more than 12 years ago, we have felt God’s call on our life to minister to young people by training youth workers around the world. This new position gives us the opportunity to take the experience we have obtained and use it to empower others to train youth workers and impact millions of young people. Our family is excited about the future, and we are glad to have you on board with us. We would appreciate your prayers for us as we begin this new part of the journey.

I sent this out to our email newsletter before posting it here. If you’d like to receive news about our ministry, sign up today.

Storytelling at its Best

Everyone loves a great story. They draw you in, entertain, and make you feel like you are really there. Hopefully, they teach you something or inspire you. We’re all in the business of telling stories, and it’s usually easier to recognize a good story than to tell one.

The other day I came across this video, which I believe it an incredible example of telling a great story. It is from Van Halen’s Vimeo page. With very little production, he draws you in and tells you an incredible story. It’s almost six minutes long, which for an internet video is almost an eternity, but it is so well done that you won’t realize it.

You may have heard the story before, but Van Halen would never allow anyone to have brown M&Ms in the dressing room. This story tells you why. Watch the video below or at this link.

What about you? What’s your story you need to tell?

(Youth) Pastors Without Training

One of the people I admire is Dr. David Sills, professor of missions at Southern Seminary and President of Reaching and Teaching International Ministries. He works tirelessly at training pastors, mentoring missionaries, and challenging the church to finish the task of global evangelization.

The other day he was tweeting a lot about training pastors and the work he has been doing in Latin America.

Here are some of the things he was tweeting:

  • SIM tested Bible knowledge in a Bolivian church w/Bible & their own pastor for 10 yrs. “Who was Adam's wife?” They responded, “Who is Adam?”
  • In a pastor training event in Peru one thought you could not go to heaven if you are illiterate, saying they'd always been taught that.
  • We asked a shaman pastor in a “reached” Ecuadorian tribe which they'd choose if forced, “Jesus or traditional spirits.” He chose paganism.
  • Church leaders argued that witchcraft in shamanism is ok if meant for good, and only wrong if hurtful to another. #pastorswithouttraining
  • Pastors w/o Bible in South American jungles reported that they preach on Sunday what they dream the night before. #pastorswithouttraining
  • A 7-yr pastor in Africa asked a similar ministry, “If I eat the flesh of another man will I get his sins too?” #pastorswithouttraining
  • A pastor (w/glasses & a Bible) was so excited upon hearing the Exodus story. He said he'd never heard that before. #pastorswithouttraining
  • Where we taught Old Testament to leaders of 4 tribes in Peru, 2 of the 4 did not even have the OT in their language. #spongesfortruth
  • Why is it wrong to live with my fiancĂ©? A pastor told us it's the best way to assure compatibility? #questionsfrompastorswhocomefortraining
  • What was that woman's name who saved and baptized Jesus? #questionsfrompastorswhocomefortraining
  • When was Jesus born again? Before or after the resurrection? #questionsfrompastorswhocomefortraining

After reading his thoughts, I asked myself, “If senior pastors without training are saying these things, what are those who are in positions of youth leadership saying, since there is even less training for them?”

My desire is to help youth leaders get the training they need in order to know God's Word and be able to communicate it to young people in their churches and communities.

The majority of the time, the senior pastor of the church is the one who will be able to receive some training. Dr. Sills has quoted many of those who have been privileged enough to go to one of his training sand have those issues addressed.

However, there are many others who have no training. We need to be training both pastors and youth workers. That' why Reaching and Teaching exists, and that's why Youth Ministry International exists.


A Video for Thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving in the USA today, and I got to thinking a little about what we are usually thankful for at this time of the year. We talk about how blessed we are and about all the wonderful things that God has given to us. Those things are good, but I’m reminded that the Biblical call to being thankful is not only in the good things but also in the bad things.

I bought the newest Shane & Shane album this week (affiliate link), mostly because of this song. It comes from a passage in Job 13:15 that says, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.”

We know the story of Job, and he was determined to hope in the grace of God despite all that had happened to him.

Our trust, our thankfulness, is not only in Him when all things are going well with us. God gives us good things, that is for sure. We are to be thankful for those things. But also in the trials and tribulations, we are to trust that His ways are higher than our ways and that He is God. We are to praise Him in all of it.

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving and that, despite what is going on in your life (good or bad), you can find a way to hope in Him.

Youth Leader Summit in Cuba

I just got an email from Darwin, one of our graduates and the Director for the Center for Youth Ministry in Santa Clara, Cuba. He is a good friend with a great passion for youth ministry and a great leader. Darwin is at the forefront of youth ministry on the island and is constantly pushing other leaders to become better at what they do.

This week he and his team hosted a national youth leaders' summit for over 120 leaders from 40 churches all over the country. Here are two pictures from the event. It's so fun to see what God is doing there!


Summit Cuba 2013



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