The Test

The Test

I was never really afraid of test. Growing up I understood the concept of preparation and execution. Go there with me for a moment. Do you remember high school, you have an test coming up and you know its going to be 50% of your final grade. What do you do? You start making index cards to memorize the content, or you transcribed all of the information on a notebook over and over again. Hours and hours of preparation. Why? Because the test was important. Here is what I understand about test. 

1. Test Must Come

James chapter 1 covers this very well. In fact, the Bible is rich with men and women who faced several test. (See Hebrews 11) Most of the time test just pop up unplanned. You cannot run from the test because it surrounds you, it places walls right in front of you and demands you to face it. It wont relent until you face it and either pass or fail it. It’s purpose is unbiased, its creator is creative and its timeline is unknown. 

2. Test Produce the Truth 

There are a lot of people that say they are one thing, and when the test comes they are completely different. They run, they hide, they turn around, they regress, they stop. Why? Because, they have not really prepared, they haven’t really been about what they say to everyone what they are about. The test exposed the lack of truth within them. 

There are also people who say one thing and remain the same when the test come. How? Because they have prepared for the test, they have stored up the truth in their minds and hearts as psalms says and have become ready for the test! The test exposed the truth within them. 

James 1:3-4 says this about test, and I have been meditating on this the past few days. 

“For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (Resolute, unwavering) and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

The Test that comes in our lives are not easy, some are, but honestly most aren’t. YOU STILL NEED them to happen. Because  Test are a REVEALER of truth or lack of truth in us. So my plea to you this morning, if you are feeling like you are under some test. Or just failed the testing of your faith. Maybe you feel like your faith in God is under attack. It’s time to study! It’s time to stop making excuses and pointing fingers. The test is YOURS, and its built to build an unwavering faith and trust in God. Get in the word of God, Pray in the Spirit, Prophecy over your test and say to it, you may have won a few times, you may look like an impossibility to me, but guess what, I’m hitting the books, I’m spending time with the Truth and His name is JESUS! HE WILL give me the answers to this test and I will PASS it with FLYING COLORS! 

 

Balancing Youth Ministry and Your Personal Life

Balancing Youth Ministry and Your Personal Life

I am a sports guy. I love watching, playing, and learning new sports. There is one sport though that I have the highest respect for but will NEVER try. That sport is gymnastics. I think it goes back to growing up the neighborhood kids would climb this 8ft tall metal fence and backflip off of it. I tried it and well...landed like a dying bird. UGLYYYY! One of the coolest sports to watch especially during the Olympics is the balance beam. Flips and flips on deck! Some do it so easily, some do it injured, some are the cream of the crop, while others struggle to stay on the beam. 

This balance beam can relate to a lot of Our lives when it comes to balancing youth ministry and our personal lives. Some of us do it while flipping, smiling, and trying new tricks. Effortlessly. While some of us are just trying to walk across the beam...one foot in front of the other...

Since you and I are serving together as a team to disciple students, there are a few tricks of the balance beam that I have learned along the way that I want to pass along to you. Hopefully, they will help you “find your footing” on the balance beam of Youth ministry and life. 

1. Fight to Avoid the Tyranny of the Urgent

every activity in life can be divided into 2 categories: urgent & important. Learning how to discern the two will help you balance well. For everything you add, ask yourself “What am I subtracting?” We usually are subtracting from important things like family, raising leaders, etc..

You can either yield to the urgent and be considered a success or yield to the important and be a success.  Your family should never get the left overs. 

John 17:4 

2. Try to keep All 5 Tanks Full

Imagine for a moment you run like a car....you have oil, gas, radiator fluid, window washer fluid, brake fluid, etc..you need all to run effectively and to see clearly. With this fun imagery, allow me to pass along something I learned many years ago. 

a. Spiritual Tank - You can’t give away what you DONT HAVE. Get in the Word of God, Pray and believe. Filling this tank is a lot like building muscle in our natural bodies, slowly and consistently. 

B. Emotional Tank - Appreciate People ALOT. AND TAKE A DAY OFF! Even God Rested a day. 

C. Physical Tank - “When Fatigue walks in, faith walks out” -Spurgeon. Eat right, workout right, and take a multivitamin. 

D. Intellectual Tank - Read the word, read other books. Expand yourself. Learn how this generation thinks and how to reach them. Some ideas of genre’s would be: Leadership, spiritual growth, parenting, marriage, singleness, biographies, sci-fi. 

E. Relationship tank - Get around people that inspire you! If you have somethings to settle with someone, settle it. Learn this: everyone has people around them that add or take away, there are very few neutral people. Oh, if your are struggling with this in youth ministry, find a few kids that motivate you. you know the students that “get it!” 

3. Prepare to fight the good, better, and best wars in your life. 

Say no to things that challenge the original call of God on your life! 

Avoid the disease to please! 

4. Decide what you are willing to fail at. 

20% of what you do will give you 80% of your results. 

You must be willing to fail at the right things. 

For example, I am willing to fail at missing a sporting event, but I’m not willing to fail at my walk with Jesus. 

Success is found not in what I do but found in those who know me BEST to love me MOST. 

5. Live Wholeheartedly the Season You Are In

What you set your heart on, do with ALL your HEART. 

When this life is all said and done, may we all be able to enter heaven used up completely with nothing left on the inside. Poured out...

Balancing is hard...But I know you can do it! Let’s determine to be GOLD Medalist on the balance beam of Youth MInistry and our personal lives. 

 

 

LEADING FROM GOD'S PRESENCE

 

Max Perez

 

“95% of being a GOOD YOUTH LEADER is about being a GOOD CHRISTIAN.” –Mom Mayo

 

Wow! What a truthful statement. I have been involved in youth ministry since I was 19 years old, so almost 15 years of youth ministry leadership. Looking back, I have had a lot of success stories and a lot of failures in my youth ministry journey. They say you lead people through your strengths but you connect with people through your weaknesses. I want to share with you just two , small, but EXTREMELY important principles I have learned over the years in the trenches of the youth ministry journey.

 

1.   Draw Everything From God’s Presence, Not From Your Vast Experience.

 

Sounds simple enough. But far too often I have found myself pulling on my personal experience with youth ministry that I rely more on that than I do God’s presence. There isn’t much I haven’t seen when it comes to youth ministry so that can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Good in that nothing surprises me, but bad in that I have “the answers” for everything.

 

Often times the Holy Spirit reminds me how replaceable I am. And that the purpose of my life is not found in my past but in His presence. It is in His presence that I have felt the heart of God. It is where as a leader, I don’t have to lead. It’s a place of rest, refueling, and purpose. Oh’ and this includes prayer, worship, evangelism, and study of the Word of God.

 

2.   Drink From The Well Daily, Regurgitation Isn’t Healthy.

 

The well? Well, let me explain…The greatest of leaders must be led by someone greater. Jesus is the greatest leader of all time. Drink from his life. I have seen people identify themselves as Christians yet, never have read through the bible, or finish the gospels for that matter. Now I am not judging or condemning anyone, I am simply identifying the principle that what you pour in will come out. And if you do not have a fresh perspective/understand/encounter with the Word of God, then what are you pouring out?

 

Imagine for a minute, as disgusting as it sounds, someone drinking water and then spiting it in your mouth. Then you taking that and spitting it into 3 peoples mouth. (Insert vomit). As nasty as that sounds, we do that to ourselves and to those we serve when we drink from other wells as oppose to digging into the Word of God ourselves. Endeavor to be a well-digger.

 

 

Here’s to Leading from God’s Presence and drinking fresh water.

The Genesis of Leadership by Max Perez

It was a gray, cloudy, and rainy morning as I woke up for church that day. My wife and daughter were still asleep and the house as you would imagine was quiet, well except for the sound of the furnace blowing heat. As I normally do, I rarely say anything in the morning. I got dressed and grabbed my coat and journal. When I got into the car I had to lower the volume from the previous night’s Christmas music. Again, not saying anything, I had a silent heart and mind. I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me. First to turn off the radio, then He asked me a question,

“Do you know where your leadership came from?”

I was a bit caught off guard. If you know me well, you know that I am not that deep of a thinker that early in the morning! So, my vocal response was “Well yes Lord, my leadership came from my parents and you.” Then I preceded to pull out of my driveway. I answered the question perfectly! Little did I know the Holy Spirit wanted me to dig deeper. So, He said it again differently and in a language I would understand,

“What is the Genesis of your leadership?”

 

My car was filled with His presence. Much like the Christmas Carol, though I was no Scrooge, I was taken back to my childhood years. Memories began to flood my mind as if I were watching live. I saw images of my childhood that were a bit shameful, and some that were embarrassing. Meanwhile, I’m turning down Broadway now, minutes away from church. Like most of my childhood, I saw an image of myself in my room alone. I felt that moment. It was so real and raw. I heard chaos outside, probably another fight, and I heard mom stress being poured out as well. It was there, when I wanted to control my life, my environment, and my future. My natural leadership was spoken over me but it didn’t come right away. I was shown that the Genesis of my Leadership comes from a place of fear and control. I am afraid to let people in because of the chaos it can open so I lead them from a place of confidence. I am afraid to relinquish control. Maybe not of situations and people, but of how I will lead myself. To put it frankly, my leadership comes from a broken place.

As I pulled into the church parking lot, I was left with this revelation and with a hug from the Holy Spirit. I walked into the church and went about “leading.” But this time, with a clearer understanding of my Leadership Genesis. I thought well, I don’t want to lead from fear or control or from a broken place I want to lead from a brave, surrendered confident place! Honestly, leading from a broken place has showed me much about a perfect God. But that’s for a later post…

 

Lead Well…

Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  

Remaining the Same

Chalk Talk: Daniel 6

By Miguel Ocasio

Leaders must remain the same no matter the changes that occur

 

            The story of Daniel is one that we can glean from in so many ways as leaders and even as fellow believers. God has given us this example to keep us on track no matter the changes that come in our lifetime. In Daniel chapter 6, we see that a new king has been put into place. King Nebuchadnezzar is no longer in charge and his son (King Belshazzar) was killed in the middle of the night for wanting to make Daniel the 3rd ruler over the kingdom. King Darius (the Mede) received the kingdom. Darius wanted to make sure the kingdom did not suffer loss and put into place 3 governors and 120 satraps (smaller leaders over the provinces). Of course, over time, Daniel’s (one of the governors) excellent spirit caused him to stand out among all the other leaders. King Darius wanted to set him over the whole realm. The others did not like this idea and tried to figured out how to get rid of him. They finally decided to persuade the king to have a statue made (kind of like what King Nebuchadnezzar did) to honor him as king/a god. It would then be decreed that no one would be allowed to petition to any other gods for 30 days. If they did so, they would be thrown into the lions den. King Darius agreed to this and it set into motion the plan to kill Daniel.

            Daniel heard about this decree and decided quickly to remain who God called him to be (a man of no compromise, and someone full of dedication to the Lord). Daniel continued to pray three times a day (like always) with his window opened toward Jerusalem. These leaders sold him out to the king and Darius was displeased with himself for making this decree. Darius did not want to kill Daniel since he loved and respected him. The king struggled with this the whole night and decided he had to to save face in his kingdom. Daniel was thrown into the lions den.

            It is interesting to note that when Daniel was being thrown into the den, King Darius declares Daniel’s character by saying “Your God whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” When we remain the same dedicated person to the Lord, it will speak volumes to everyone who’s around, especially those who do not serve the Lord. Daniel could have changed the way he did things many times while he was a captive, but he chose to remain the same throughout his lifetime. He built up a rapport with each king no matter their religious views. He respected and served them in every way except when it came to his relationship with God. He did not change, but remained the same.

            I remember when I was in college and had to take oral communications (speech class). I was nervous to get in front of people to speak but I knew God would help me. When it came time to do my persuasive speech, I chose to do it on the topic of “Living pure in an impure world”. As I began to share this speech, another student, whom I knew from work, began to smile. After the class, he came up to me and said “I knew you would do something like this. You’re the real deal man.” That spoke volumes to me. I could have chosen to shy away from being me because of the people in the class but I decided to remain the same dedicated person I was. It planted a seed in that guy’s life and he was glad I did. Let’s be these types of leaders wherever we go and for however long we live. It is making a difference.

            Father, I pray for those who read this blog. I ask you to help them remain loyal and dedicated to you no matter the changes that occur in their lives. Help them to be bold and unashamed to be called a child of God. I pray that they will never compromise but always stand for what they believe in. Bless them in the process and allow them to be that ministry tool for you and for others. I ask you this in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen!

How to Celebrate a Win in Your Life

How to Celebrate a Win in Your Life

If you haven’t heard lately, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA Championship! This win is a big deal for many reasons but I’ll just point out the most significant-52 years without any pro sports team championship! 52 years of getting close to winning but closer to defeat. This year they won. I was with some of my family watching the game and when the game was complete we celebrated like crazy!

 

With that amazing celebration, I went home and thought I would capitalize on the thought of celebration. So I want to share with you 3 how-to’s in the area of Celebrating WINS in your LIFE.

1.    Don’t Minimize Your Accomplishments

Seriously, you did the work, you studied hard, put in that overtime, balanced your life, kept your hand to the plow, organized and executed that event. Whatever you did, celebrate it. It is not prideful to celebrate your accomplishments. I think we take the humble road to the extreme sometimes. Setting a goal and accomplishing it is worthy of celebration. Post about it, throw a party, jump up and down, celebrate with others!

2.    Make is Memorable

I love creating tokens. Small items that signify an accomplishment. I cab remember when my wife and her sister was fighting to get licensed for their new business venture. They failed a few times at it and faced a tremendous amount of discouragement. I went out and bough pink boxing gloves and took a quote from Rocky 6 in a frame and tied it to the gloves. I gave it to them to encourage them to fight and never give up. They ended up finishing the race and we celebrated!

Whether its going out to dinner, throwing a party, going on a mini vacation, or even creating a token. Make it MEMORABLE. Celebrating yourself and others creates unity in the family.

3.    Round Table It

Let me explain, this powerful moment will work when you are celebrating someone else. Get a group of close friends and family members together at the house, or restaurant. Go around the table to celebrate/encourage/pray for, the person you are honoring.

I have experienced and been apart of this type of celebration a few times and it is always very moving! People work hard to accomplish goals in there lives and having people speak about them and encourage them is like wind in your sails. Trust me!

Now I know that there are many more ways to celebrate accomplishments in your life I wanted to give you just a few. Celebrate. It is important! 

The Bamboo Tree

The Bamboo Tree

THE STORY OF THE BAMBOO TREE

In the Far East the Asian people plant a tree known as the Chinese Bamboo. During the first four years they water and fertilize the plant despite seeing little or no results. Then during the fifth year, they again water and fertilize the tree - and in five weeks’ time the tree grows ninety feet! The obvious question to ask is: Did the Chinese bamboo tree grow ninety feet in five weeks, or did it grow ninety feet in five years? The answer is: It grew ninety feet in five years. You see, if at any time during those five years the people would have stopped watering and fertilizing the tree, it would have died.

Many times our dreams and plans appear as if they are going nowhere, and we are tempted to give up and quit trying. But on the contrary, we must keep watering and fertilizing those dreams and plans God’s placed inside us. Because we know that if we do not quit, if we show perseverance and endurance, we will also reap a harvest. Charles Spurgeon once said, “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”

What areas of your life reflect the attitude of that snail? Have you given up on your dreams? Remember: Growth never happens overnight.

As you enter the summer, set new goals and challenge your kids to do the same –take this story, implement it in your youth service, your small groups, or your own walk and remember that outward results may or may not accurately reflect inward realities.

Remember that small acts of kindness, often reap huge dividends: small, practical things you can do in the summer:

   Make a habit of calling specific kids each week

   Take a teenager out for a Coke or to Starbucks regularly

   Show up at a ball game where you know your teenagers will be

   Drop candy, gum, or donuts off at one of your key influencer’s schools [especially when it’s finals or they’re taking a big test]

   Write a letter per week just to encourage one of your faithful, good kids

   Stay extra late after a youth service to spend time “just listening” to teenagers

 

Jesus is Alive, don’t live in the past by Adrian Lindsey

Jesus is Alive, don’t live in the past by Adrian Lindsey

I can’t help but think how devastated the disciples were after the death of Jesus. I mean, they walked on this earth with our Lord and Savior for 3 years. They ate with him, laughed with him and were 1st hand witnesses to his power and majesty. Can you imagine walking on this earth with our lord and all of a sudden he was taken from you, which would have seemed to them as a moment’s notice? And even though Jesus warned them, they were not able to see the necessity of his departure.

John 16:7 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”

The truth of the matter is that, the disciples wanted the life they were living with Jesus here on earth to last forever. But fortunately, God had something better in store for them which they could not see and were at 1st unwilling to accept. We see proof of their unwillingness to accept God’s divine plan of Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection by each and every one of the disciples’ responses they had as Jesus tried to continually help them realize that he was not going to be with them forever. Mark 10: 33-37.

There are so many times in our lives that we are trying to hold on to something that we are only supposed to embrace for a season. One of the greatest dilemma’s we as leaders face is that we try to hold on to certain moments too long. And just as the disciples tried to hold on to their season with the Lord Jesus here on earth…we too, try to hold on to certain experiences far longer than we should. If we choose to hold on certain moments (desiring them to last forever) then we would never grow and move on. Neither would the disciples have grown and moved on to become the Apostles of the Gospel of our Lord if that particular season of their life with Him here on earth would not have come to an end.

3 Things we can do as leaders.

1.     Renew your mind and do not live in your past experiences, (failures or successes).

If we constantly mediate on our failures we could become stagnant and become spiritually depressed. But most importantly, living in our past successes limits us as leaders and sort of puts a cap on our achievements, there by prohibiting us to move beyond those accomplishments.

2.     Pray and set new goals….for you to feel that Christ is alive in you and used by God. (How do you make new memories if you don’t allow God to do something new with you? Proverbs 29:18, “without a vision my people perish”.

3.     Make a plan to only use the past as a reflection to prepare for your future….(i.e. so any past mistakes aren’t repeated…KEEP MOVING FORWARD!

 

Isaiah 43: 18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.

19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

 

 

Remember each and every experience in our lives no matter how great eventually comes to an end in order to make way for a new and even better one!

5 Qualities of a Friendly Leader

Jesus is a Friend.

There is no doubt that the Bible is about redemption. The God of the universe sending His only begotten son to a wicked earth that turned against him. Jesus, God wrapped in flesh, came to be the sacrifice needed to satisfy the Fathers wrath. His walked amongst mankind for 33 years and then returned to His father having completed redemption. Though Jesus came for redeeming mankind, He also established and modeled true friendship. Now the Gospels and Acts records the friendships Jesus. You can see how Jesus treated people, made friends, and brought people close to his heart. It is in light of all of this that I want to share with you 5 qualities of a friendly leader. 

1. They Ask Questions

Jesus was the type of person that would ask questions. Often times, if he were with disciples he would ask tough questions that would reach their hearts. ‘Who do you say that I AM?’ “What do you seek?’. If you want to be a good leaders model this friendly quality of Jesus. Ask Questions to those whom you serve, work for, in your family, in your relationships. Don’t assume you know everything about them or their situation. Asking questions is the key to hearing the heart of people. People enjoy leaders who ask questions.

2. They Are Intentional

We have all heard the story of the woman at the well (John 4). Jesus meeting a woman who was drawing water and he tells her to draw him some water. She then challenges his statement with a questions and probably some attitude. They continue on with a conversation that forever changes her life. Jesus was always intentionally friendly. When you are intentional you are operating out of a place of sincerity. When you sincerely go out of your way to meet someone, talk to someone no one is talking to, text someone to encourage them, or even call someone you haven’t spoken with for awhile you’re building a bridge. This bridge is that on friendship. And I often quote Jeanne Mayo when it come to bridge building, “Friendship is the paved highway that the Holy Spirit will most often travel on.”

3. They Are Genuine

Jesus was the epitome of a genuine leader. In the larger context of his life in the gospels you can see the consistency in this area. There was no hidden motive, just genuine love and friendship. His desire was to draw people closer to him. He desired friendship with humanity! What ever leadership role you and I play, we have to understand that leadership that is only about a task and not about friendship isn’t friendship at all. Strive to be a Jesus kind of leader, who invited those who were following him closer for the purpose of genuine friendship.

 4. They Change People

Those who chose friendship with Jesus were forever changed. Changed by his love, kindness, intentionality, and care. They went from being just fisherman to fishers-of-men. This kind of transformation didn’t take long it happened quickly. When you are around people what you value becomes what they value. What you are rubs off on them. “When people with different values hang out together, somebody ULTIMATELY CHANGES.” Jeanne Mayo.

 5. They are Frog Kissers

Jesus was the BEST at this. Not obviously I am not talking about literal frogs but much like the story of the princess and the frog, Jesus seen the royalty in people and “kissed them with encouragement and truth.” Encouragement wrapped in truth is one of the most dynamic tools in a leader’s repertoire. Friendly leaders are encouragers. They search for things to encourage people in. They are builders of people not themselves.  If you want to get the best OUT of a person, you must always look for the best IN the person.