Creatively Communicating Christ

Archive for March, 2012

Words From The Cross: Father Forgive Them

Through the years of speaking many times about Jesus and his final moments, I have been mindful of what I would do with my final breaths here on earth. I certainly would not waste any words as every word is precious for the speaker and the listener. I wouldn’t waste a breath saying or attempting to say something that wasn’t important for me to pass onto those nearby. I have to believe Jesus is the same. I have to believe that the last seven phrases he spoke from the cross reveal to us what was really most important to him.

Even though Jesus was suffering from blood loss, dehydration, trauma and fatigue, He still had he presence of mind to offer up prayers and carry on a conversation concerning forgiveness. Forgiveness was obviously a huge motivation for Jesus dying on the cross for us. It was one of the main reasons he came to earth altogether. And here he is within the final few hours of his life making the request of God for us! From the cross he cries out: “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34. This prayer was not only for those who were guilty of driving the nails, or the religious Pharisees, or the Roman government, or the disciples who abandoned him…it was for us, all of us!

One of Jesus’ roles is intercessor (Isaiah 53:12, Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25) but the thought of him being caught in the moment , fresh from the beatings, the persecution, the rejection and abandonment of his friends and disciples, is really astonishing to consider. How could this guy do that? How can he plead for my forgiveness? Dr. F.B. said:

 “in uttering this first cry from the Cross, our Lord entered that work of intercession which he ever lives to continue on our behalf. He thinks, not of himself, but of others; he is occupied, not with his own pain, but with their sins. He makes no threat but instead offers a tender prayer of pleading intercession.” 

Jesus was fully coherent and present in that moment. Jesus knew who he was and that he was destined to be the intercessor for all of us. He also know he was destined to be the sacrifice for us and our sin. In this scenario when others could have justified their bitter and condemning responses, he  still loves and offers a prayer of intercession and forgiveness. In this time, Jesus is not mumbling some trite prayer for people, he is fully engaged in his role and fulfilling the whole reason he came, securing our redemption and the forgiveness of our sin!

Jesus was fully aware of who we were in that moment.. We were ignorant. We were indifferent. We were enemies. And yet he prayed for us! He deliberately mentioned us in his final hours because he could not bring himself to do anything other than love us! It’s one thing to to love people who love you back but it’s quite another to love your enemies!  However, this is exactly what Jesus preached and what He did (Matthew 6:12, Matthew 18:21-22, Matthew 26:27-28,Mark 2:5, John8:1-11,John 8:22-23). Jesus praying for our forgiveness reveals his heart to us and his willingness to love us to death! It shows that his love went way beyond words to the ultimate sacrifice of his own life.

This prayer was answered and we are the beneficiaries of it! About seven weeks after this prayer was uttered from the cross, thousands were accepting the fact that it was they who killed Christ, who were guilty of the atrocious sins against God and Christ and begging for his forgiveness.The Church was birthed and the blood of Christ cleansed people from their sins. He still makes intercession today, pleading for our forgiveness and desiring for all to receive the free gift of salvation. What an amazing Savior! What an amazing God!

 

 

 

George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as student pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA


What the #@?!*

BLEEEEEEEEP!

Not being someone who cusses a lot (come on! we’ve all had a few that have slipped and more than a few we have chosen), but this is ridiculous! The New York Department of Education has come out with a new list of 50 words that have been banned from standardized tests! The list consists of words that are thought to evoke unpleasant feelings or spark controversial discussion. For more on this topic read here: Dirty Words

It is amazing to think that taking away words like “birthday” or “dinosaur” is healthy and good! Sure there are people who may not celebrate birthdays or even believe in dinosaurs but now these words now being deemed “inappropriate”. It doesn’t make sense to me! How is it that kids and teachers alike in many schools have no problem cussing and using strong language that is much more offensive than “Rock ‘n’ Roll” and yet have no problem doing so? Moreover, most kids wouldn’t be allowed to have any kind of music device or phone carrying mp3s on their persons trolling the halls school! I feel like if we are gonna ban words, let’s ban words that are truly offensive! What do you think about New York’s ban on these words? Give me some feedback!


How Did He Do That? Part 6

 
11And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
 
Have you ever wondered what God is gonna do with this?  What is going to do with these “leftovers”? What good are leftovers? What good is this tired old talent or way of doing things?
 
 
 

Did you know that the average American produces about 5 pounds of trash a day?

Did you know that Americans throw away about a half-a-pound of food each day?

Did you know that up to 295 billion pounds of food is thrown away each year?

These facts are staggering to consider when there is so much poverty in the USA and around the world! Knowing these statistics makes what Jesus did at the end of this passage all the more beautiful! Jesus instructed the disciples to collect up the leftovers so that nothing would be wasted. He was going to send the food back home with the boy! The boy’s small offering would now be rewarded as a blessing to his entire family and perhaps even the whole village!

What are you wasting?

After an event like that in our culture, many people would not have given a second  thought about simply discarding the leftovers. No one would have wanted to take the time to collect it up and store it up for use in the future. No one would have wanted to take the time to carry it back home. Who has time for that??? But this was evidently important to Jesus.

Jesus didn’t waste an opportunity to be a blessing for the future.

He took something that was right now and prepared it to be a blessing for the next day. What many would have left or thrown out, Jesus prepared for tomorrow. Just because something may seem old or tired or used up doesn’t mean it is! It may need to be repackaged, refreshed, or reheated but it can be recycled to be sure! Jesus will take what we have given Him and prepare it for the future if we are willing to use it again. Don’t simply discard a practice, a program, or a principle because it’s “old”. Certainly be open to new ways and practices. Technology and social media are wonderful new inventions that can go far in reaching people and making an impact in this generation and future ones. However, don’t ignore the things that have worked for years and simply do away with them because they seem “old”. Allow Christ to prepare it for tomorrow. This will require us to place it in His hands once again. Maybe it’s old and tired because we have “made” it? Allow Him to remake it and it may just very well be a blessing for the future!

Jesus looked to the future to impact the present.

Where did the blessing of the fish and bread come from? A little boy! No one would have suspected the blessing for the entire throng to come from a kid…and yet it did! Jesus didn’t reject the gift of the kid. How often do we dismiss what kids or youth have to offer because we feel they would have little to contribute? How often do we not include them in discussions about church and future church because we really don’t want their input or feel like their ideas would be valuable? Jesus demonstrated that He could use a kid and what a kid had to offer to bless those who were present and even beyond! Perhaps we need to survey what kids like and dislike about church? Maybe we need to include teens and even kids who don’t attend church to find out what we could work on to reach future generations? Maybe we need to give some more responsibilities to the youth and make them feel like a bigger part of God’s redemptive plan?

Jesus didn’t waste an opportunity to be a blessing beyond those who were present.

Have you ever been part of the “outsiders club”? You know what I mean, right? You’re sitting with friends who begin talking about a trip they were on but you didn’t make. They have their inside jokes, their stories that just aren’t as funny or special to you because you were not there! Frankly, you just don’t care!  That’s what is so awesome about this part of Jesus not wanting anything to be lost. He didn’t want others who were not there to miss the blessing either! He sent the baskets full of bread and fish back with the people. He didn’t hoard it or simply make enough for the ones present. He made more than enough for those present and then sought to be a blessing to those who were not. He wanted to include as many as possible in the blessing of this gift from the little boy. He wanted to bless others who were not there so they could share in the story! How have you tried to hoard blessings for yourself? How could you include others in the story and blessings of Jesus? How have you been limiting what God is placing in your hands to be a blessing to others?

Even though wasting food is tragic and inexcusable, wasting time and opportunities are more so! Jesus didn’t waste this food and He certainly didn’t waste time or opportunities. May we be faithful followers and do as He has shown us!

 
 
George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA
 

Failure Doesn’t Have To Be Fatal

151,600.

It’s a large number. In fact it’s a daily average.

It comes out to about 105 per minute.

What is it?

The number of people who die each day. On average, 151,600 people around the world die every day.

However, this number drastically rises when people experience failure. Suicide, depression, isolation, and despair, along with a host of other things flood a soul with darkness when a failure is experienced.

But failure is not fatal. At least it doesn’t have to be.

God sees ‘success’ and ‘failure’ more in terms of relationships than of achievements, more in ‘being’ than in ‘doing’… Noah got drunk, Moses got angry and Gideon became scared. Peter could be inconsistent, Paul inconsiderate; Thomas doubted, Martha pouted. But God continued to love them and turned their failures into victories… The good news of the Christian faith is that failure need never be final. Ron Elbourne, ‘Parson’s Pitch’ 

How can we move from suffering the fatal blow of failure to a future full of hope?

Read Philippians 3:13-14

Focus Forward.

Press On. Only look back to gain perspective and wisdom. Don’t allow yourself to spend more time looking back than forward. A runner loses races by nanoseconds when they look backward instead of focusing forward. Spending much time on past losses and failures consumes energy that could be used to forge forward. Use the past for help reshape the future. Whatever you do, spend more time looking forward to what’s next than back at what could have been!

Listen Forward.

Lean In. Often voices from the past can haunt and taunt us. Instead, listen forward to the calling of God. Lean into the wind…the wind of His voice, His Spirit. Learning to discern the voice of God is crucial when we experience failure. Allow the Lord to woo you forward out of the mire of the deep losses. Listen to the words of forgiveness, hope and love that He showers on your soul. Pay attention to the sound of His voice as He comforts and consoles your soul. God never comes at His child with condemnation. Conviction, yes. Condemnation, no. Romans 8:1

Reach Forward.

Give Up? NEVER! Just remember that when you fall down, it’s much easier for everything else to be looking up! Our God is a God of the future. He is always moving and seeking to move us forward. His desire is not ever for us to move backward. Nor is it His desire for us to remain where we are but to reach forward for where He is. He is extending His hand seeking to lift us up  and all we have to do is reach forward!

George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA.


How Did He Do That? Part 5

 
11And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
 
Have you ever wondered what part do you play in God’s mission? As hard as it may be to believe, God has a role for you somewhere down the line. Part of how God does what He does is through us.
 

This passage clearly states that Jesus took the bread, blessed it and then gave it to His disciples to distribute to the rest of the crowd. On another occasion in Mark 8:1-10 we see Jesus doing something similar. He took the bread, blessed it and gave it to his disciples to pass out to others. What was Jesus doing in these instances? He was showing that how He does things is through us…with us as an extension of Himself.

The disciples enjoyed being close followers of Jesus. They loved getting the nitty-gritty teaching up close and personal. What Jesus was teaching them here, albeit subtly was that serving is as important as teaching. He was teaching through serving. Far too many people simply want information, “teaching” but Paul holds nothing back when he says that knowledge just “puffs up.” Service keeps us humble.

Precepts without practice results in pride.

Jesus taught a great deal of Truth but He also embodied that Truth. He did more than teach…He lived it out among them. He served and He expected His disciples to serve. And with a crowd like this there was no better time to serve! It is ridiculous how many people just want to talk about Jesus stuff and never do what Jesus did!

John 13:13-17 shows us Jesus heart for His disciples modeling His example:

13You call me your teacher and Lord, and you should, because that is who I am. 14And if your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other.15I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you. 16I tell you for certain that servants are not greater than their master, and messengers are not greater than the one who sent them. 17You know these things, and God will bless you, if you do them.

Jesus disciples His Disciples to make a difference.

Yes, the miracle is from the Lord! He broke the bread and blessed it. But then He bequeathed it to His disciples to serve. It is no different today. Jesus is constantly putting things back into our hands to serve others with. He is not holding back…But are we? Are we keeping blessings to ourselves? Are we spiritual hoarders? Are we not making a difference because we don’t want to serve others? Perhaps the real miracle is not that Jesus could produce food to feed over 8,000? Maybe the real miracle is that we are the ones He’s using!

The method is the miracle!

In this case and throughout His entire life Jesus was handing off ministry to others. Sure there were times when only He could do something miraculous. However, there are plenty of times in the scripture when Jesus passes the torch on to His disciples and encourages them in being like Him (Luke 9:1-6, Luke 10:1-20, Matthew 28: 18-20, Acts 1:8). What is important for all disciples of Christ to remember is that we cannot mishandle what the Lord has willingly and graciously placed in our hands! He has entrusted us with the Bread of Life!  How is the Lord asking you to pass something on? How has He given you something to give away to another?

 7But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
 
 
 
George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA
 

No Bullies!

At some point we have all been affected by a bully to some degree. Many of us have even bullied others to a certain extent…just ask your siblings. But the bullies of old have morphed and become stronger, meaner, and more prevalent than ever! No longer is the bully just an oversized kid in the classroom among his or her peers. Nowadays bullies are almost everywhere the victims would want to be. And there seems to be no escape! With technology, cell phones, and the Internet, bullies can have their pleasure in tormenting their prey as much as they desire. An estimated 160,000 miss school everyday out of fear of being bullied with about 2.7 million children being bullied each year!

Studies and surveys have shown that 90%!!! of 4th-8th graders reported some form of bullying!

Look at these stats from http://www.bullyingstatistics.org

  • Over half, about 56 percent, of all students have witnessed a bullying crime take place while at school.
  • A reported 15 percent of all students who don’t show up for school report it to being out of fear of being bullied while at school.
  • There are about 71 percent of students that report bullying as an on-going problem.
  • Along that same vein, about one out of every 10 students drops out or changes schools because of repeated bullying.
  • One out of every 20 students has seen a student with a gun at school.
  • Some of the top years for bullying include 4th through 8th graders in which 90 percent were reported as victims of some kind of bullying.

There is clear evidence that bullying  in school is impacting our children dramatically. Much of this activity though started at school continues online via social sites like Facebook or Twitter, continuing virtually everywhere the victim goes.  Over half of all teens say they have been a victim of cyber bullying with 1 in 3 saying they have been threatened online.

Cell phones are the most common vehicles of technology  for digital harassment since they are much more private and individualized forms of communication. Digital harassment differs from cyber bullying in that it is usually between two people once romantically involved, although that’s not always the case.  Unlike Facebook or Twitter where parents or friends may intervene from being able see messages or pictures more easily, students are much more reticent to reveal their text or pic messages via mobil devices. Therefore cell phones provide easy-to-use tools for bullies and numerous ways for tormenting their victims outside of school.

A new documentary will be released on March 30 that will chronicle 5 victims of bullying at school. I would encourage every parent, youth worker and student to watch this movie to not only be informed but to take a stand against bullying in our nation. The movie will be released Unrated, after a petition of more than 500,00 decried it’s “R” rating. The movie reveals a real and raw look into the lives our kids live each day! Watch the trailer for the movie here: Bully

Here are a few general steps to take in dealing with your child and bullying.

Understand that bullying is a huge problem and your child is likely either exposed to or a victim of bullying.

Be engaged in the lives of your children. Isolation and ignorance provide ways for the bullying to continue. Knowing their friends, watching their behavior, and having meaningful open discussions with your children about bullying is vital in their thriving at school and in society. As a parent, teacher, or youth worker, being more actively engaged in the lives of your children will help safeguard them from bullies. Take initiative!

Understand that not everyone will stand up for those who are being bullied!

Be involved in your local school system. Many teachers and principals are not aware (and quite frankly some do not even care stating that it’s part of “growing up”) of the bullying that goes on in the halls or cafeteria. Being engaged means being involved. As adults, it is our responsibility to be actively involved in the nurturing and care of our kids. Don’t leave it to the school system to do something. Get involved!

Exercise your right and responsibility to be involved in the protection and safety of your child!

Be active in prayer and teaching. Many children may end up modeling behavior seen at home, on TV or in movies that is aggressive or violent in its nature like bullying. Praying for your child and instructing them in the ways of the Lord is essential. Help your child understand the right and wrong ways to deal with conflict, instilling within them a love for all people. Teach them how to control their tongues and be self -controlled when dealing with pain and anger. Be instructive!

There are many tools and resources available for helping you and your child deal with bullies. Here are a few links to assist.

National Crime Prevention

Pacer Center

Pacer for kids

Pacer for teens

Commonsense

Stop Bullying

 

George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and works as student pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA


How Did He Do That? Part 4

 
 11Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he passed the bread to the people, and he did the same with the fish, until everyone had plenty to eat. John 6:11
 
Have you ever wondered: “how did He do that?” Have you ever thought that it would take a miracle for something to work! Here’s a classic case where Jesus did something incredible.
 
 

This passage says that Jesus took the bread in His hands. This is where the miracles begin. To get to the place where we are scratching our heads in wonder and amazement, we have to let go of what we are holing onto.Jesus did something great for all that were there because of what was placed in his hands.

Never underestimate what Jesus can do with whatever He has been freely given!

Other passages tell us that there was a little boy who had these fish and bread. He could have held onto it but he freely choose to let it go and let the Lord use it. How often am I tempted to hold onto what I have? I can easily find myself operating out of a scarcity mentality and discover that my faith is not as strong as I thought. Whether it’s with money, or things or even the homeless fries at the bottom of the BK bag, I can seek to grab more and keep more for myself rather than share. Not this little boy! He let it all go in complete trust and expectation of something great.

Let Go and Let God!

To be sure he knew what he gave the Lord…it wasn’t that much, especially for so many. Phillip even chimes in to this same sound confirming that a few fish and some bread would barley make it past the first couple mouths. But it wasn’t about how much the boy gave; it was about who he gave it to!

Jesus was not concerned about how much it was but that He had something to work with!

Don’t miss what I’m saying. I believe Jesus could have commanded rocks to become bread and called for quail to come and visit them to be dinner. Surely Jesus could have done that. However, Jesus was pleased to have these items in his hands from a generous little boy seeking to give all he had to the cause! Too often we can become caught up in the quantity or even quality of the offering. We can begin to measure things and try to “out-do” the next guy with something bigger or better. We can even go the opposite route and not give anything because we figure it would never measure up at all. Hogwash! Christ cares more about our heart in giving than in the amount we give. He is able to take whatever we give and expand it, multiply it, and use it beyond our comprehension! I can assure you that this little boy had no idea what Jesus was gonna do with his small sacrificial offering!

Anything in Jesus’ hands is a sure bet!

I’m sure there were people in that crowd that had no idea what was going on. There were probably more than a few who had an interest into what Jesus was gonna do about this crisis because they were starving! And then there were a few who were expecting Jesus to be a colossal failure. A couple of fish and bread? I can hear the crowd up front murmuring. I can hear the doubt in the disciple’s voices. I can see the bug-eyed boy as Jesus takes the bread and breaks it and starts to pass it out. And he breaks it again…and again…and again…and again. And it doesn’t stop until they are all completely full. They couldn’t eat one more morsel! Who would have thunk it? How could this be possible? NO WAY! But it happened and there were thousands who would have testified that day that those fish and that bread was the best they’d ever tasted!

How did He do that? By blessing a small offering from a little boy. By breaking what was taken and making it available to all. Jesus can and will do amazing things with whatever He is given. It doesn’t matter from whom it comes or how much it is; He can and will use it to be a blessing to others.

 
 
 
 George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA
 

Cheating To Win

Reebok posted some ads recently in Germany that provoked many scathing remarks via Twitter and the Internet. Quick to cry “foul”, the shoe company that has been faltering in its step lately wasted no time in removing the ads and publicly apologizing:

“The signs were removed as soon as we were made aware of them. I can assure you that Reebok does not condone this message or cheating in any way. We apologize for the offensive nature of these materials, and are disappointed that they appeared at all.”

Dan Sarro

For a company that is lagging behind, someone stooped to cheating? Is this a surprise with 74% of high school students admitting to cheating in school over the last year. Another investigation in Atlanta found that 44 schools and 178 teachers and principles had been cheating by falsifying test scores over the last 10 years! Whether it’s a lack of ethics, pressure to succeed, or the thrill of the act, cheating has become a widespread epidemic that has now crossed over into almost every domain of our lives.

As the Reebok ad tritely stated: it’s better to cheat on your girlfriend than your workout. The cheating in relationships is encouraged here. This is not an uncommon value lived out by many. Some numbers show that anywhere from 30%-60% of all married couples will have some kind of infidelity within their marriage. Of all marriages in the US, 50%-70% of them will end in divorce and many of those marriages will dissolve because of “cheating” on a spouse.

Cheating isn’t just at school or in the home but on the sports field also. This site chronicles the “15 Greatest Sports Cheats Of All Time.” From point-shaving to performance enhancing drugs, every major sports arena has fallen prey to cheaters. It has become such an issue that Dale Murphy, founder of “I Won’t Cheat”, says soon the winners will “be (he) who has the best chemist and who is on their cycle at the right time. And that’s a scary, disturbing thought.” But his comments are not just true of the sports industry. It really is scary all the way around and something has to be done to rectify the issues on all fronts: sports, school and home!

Even though many know the exact repercussions of cheating, they are not dissuaded from pursuing the thrill. Some won’t care if they are caught while others will regret it longterm. Some will have  major consequences while still others will find ways to cheat the system. In the case for Reebok, they heard the public outcry and being desperate to save their image, they removed the ads. Thanks for being “sensitive” Reebok but I’m happy to see that cheating on the girlfriend just didn’t work out!

George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA


It’s Hot Alright!

We all knew Apple’s latest improvement on the iPad would be hot…but this hot? Boiling over at 116 degrees Fahrenheit, the picture above  shows the difference between the latest iPad 2 and 3. The model on the left is significantly cooler (-13 cooler), which is the iPad 2. Selling over 3 million in 4 days, no one seems to be bothered that the iPad3 is really hot…no seriously…really hot!


And The Winners Are…

And the winners are Katiness and Peeta and The Hunger Games. Grossing an estimated $155 million  The Hunger Games is the distinct winner this past weekend at the box office. With the movie breaking a few records with this milestone,  Jennifer Lawrence helped rake in cash and scores of people who were certainly more than hungry for The Hunger Games.

Having not read the book nor being terribly familiar with the story or plot, aside from the trailer, I was happily pleased with the acting, overall story and directing of the film. I enjoyed the length of the movie and found the themes in the story to be relevant and thought-provoking. I enjoyed the movie once but I am not sure if this is in the category of a “must-see-again” movie for me. Maybe on DVD from Redbox but I am not sure if I will contribute to the estimated $350 million. How about you? Would you see this movie 2 or more times?


Confronting Cultural Norms

I was reading a blog I found on Youth Culture Report from Andy Blanks about dealing with culture and how to engage the battle for our students hearts and minds. There are many in ministry who settle for playing games with students and entertaining them for a couple hours each week but this is not what Christ intended! We have all been commissioned to make disciples! Disciples know and understand culture, how to interact within the culture and how to change their culture. Real life disciples don’t flee from culture into a nice, quaint sub-culture where everything is controlled and managed. To the contrary they engage culture and wisely live within that context making a difference however subtle. Jesus told his disciples : 16 “Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16 Jesus did not seek to escape culture but rather he equipped His disciples to effectively engage it. How can we better do this?

Dissect The Culture. As with any scientific methodology, dissection and cross-section is a great way to not only understand but engage a species. Culture seems to change about every year to year-and-a-half making understanding it an epic challenge. As soon as you think you have a grasp  someone flips the script and dramatically shifts the paradigm. Taking time with your students and parents on a regular basis to work through the lyrics of a song, album cover art, music videos and movie clips are great ways to study the culture and gauge where it is and where it is headed. Host media weekends or seminars to help parents know how to find resources and use technology. Allow the students to be the teachers! Now that’s a novel idea, right? Bring the outsiders in! We have to do a better job understanding culture instead of simply judging it!

We fear what we do not understand.

Dialogue About Culture. Talking about the mores and values of the society are vitally important. Many students and adults have a clouded understanding of why they do what they do and the reasons for which they feel strongly about certain beliefs or ways of living. Having dialogue and discussions are healthy and necessary to flesh out real belief and doctrine of scripture.If we never talk about these things in church how do we really expect our students to be equipped to address the issues in the real world? Dialogue is the bridge between generations and cultures. Conversations give birth to relationships and relationships change culture! When relationships with parents and families become stronger the culture becomes stronger. Churches should be the place where most dialogue about culture happens! Talk to God about the culture. Pray on behalf of the city, nations and world. Don’t just talk to your children or students but talk to God! Pray together as families at church. Pray together as the Body for the culture.

Disciple Into Culture. If we are to be successful in helping our students and their parents engage culture we have to disciple people correctly. This means we have to biblically train them and disciple them through God’s Word and by His Spirit. Jesus could not have been more clear about this than when he prayed:

14 I have given them Your word. 
The world hated them 
because they are not of the world, 
as I am not of the world. 
15 I am not praying 
that You take them out of the world 
but that You protect them from the evil one. 
16 They are not of the world, 
as I am not of the world. 
17 Sanctify them by the truth; 
Your word is truth. 
18 As You sent Me into the world, 
I also have sent them into the world. 
19 I sanctify Myself for them, 
so they also may be sanctified by the truth.

Jesus had prepared His disciples and made them fishers of men. He trained them by living with them and allowing them to peer into His life for three years. Can we do any less and anticipate success? Hardly! Yet many of today’s generation and culture at large are biblically illiterate, un-discipled, and lost and tossed about by every wind of doctrine because they do not have an established discipleship relationship with any kind of spiritual mentor or coach.

Many pastors, youth pastors and even lay leaders “preach” and teach but who is discipling? Who is investing days, months, and years into the lives of students on a regular basis? We need men and women, moms and dads who will step up and disciple their children, raising them to live godly within the context of a messed-up generation. If we expect our kids to be godly leaders we cannot neglect the fact that time together, living and breathing in close proximity, along with clear and definitive teaching and modeling is the only way to disciple!  Without these things  in concert and harmony the next generation will not only be self-absorbed but un-discipled as Christ-Followers. They might know about God but they will not glorify Him with their lives.

Changing the culture can only happen when people of the culture are changed from within. This only happens with relationship. Relationships with each other and God. It’s not about taking our kids out of the “mean, nasty, bad, and evil” culture but equipping them with every tool, value and resource available to withstand the cultural onslaught.

Disciples were always sent into the world…not kept from it!

 3 For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands. Now His commands are not a burden, 4because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. 5 And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5: 3-5

MTV, Wiz Khalifa or Lady Gaga are teaching our kids what to believe and they are buying it at a rate of 17 billion dollars a year! Someone new will be teaching them within a year or so… I hope it’s you!  To effectively confront cultural norms we have to dissect the culture, dialogue with our kids about it and disciple them in the things of God and ways of Jesus. Otherwise, they will go the way of mainstream culture living obscured lives rooted in virtual obsolescence and irrelevance…not at all what God intended for any generation.

 


 

 

George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA


How Did He Do That? Part 3

 
 4 Now the Passover, a Jewish festival, was near. 5 Therefore, when Jesus looked up and noticed a huge crowd coming toward Him, He asked Philip, “Where will we buy bread so these people can eat?” 6 He asked this to test him, for He Himself knew what He was going to do. 7 Philip answered, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread wouldn’t be enough for each of them to have a little.” John 6:4-7
 
Have you ever been to the place where you just don’t want to go any further? You’ve done your part, given your all and now you just want a break? That’s kind of where the disciples are in this picture. They just wanted some Jesus time of their own. But Jesus had other thoughts in mind. He asked a question to test them.

“How far are you willing to go?” This was Jesus’ question to Phillip. He inquired about the place they could get food for everyone by asking “where shall we buy bread…”? Jesus comes to us with this same question often: How far are you willing to go in helping a person or group of people?

There is always a cost in serving and helping others.

The cost comes in various ways: lost sleep, travel to visit and encourage, personal financial expenditures, just to name a few. Yet Jesus expects us to go the “extra mile” in serving and giving.  In this instance when He knew what He was going to do, He asked the question to see how far Phillip and the others would go. Would they go as far as He would in serving others and meeting their needs? So often our service for others is limited to us doing what we feel like doing when we feel like doing it. We call that “service“. We call that “volunteering”. But Jesus is looking for it to become a way of life for His disciples.

“For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.” John 13:15.

We tend to put limits on who we serve and with how much gusto we give in certain situations. If there is something to gain, we give a 110% but if we feel there’s gonna be little return, we back off and give 49%. This is not Jesus’ way!

 “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:38-42

Jesus makes it clear that our hospitality and service should go well beyond what the “world” would consider “reasonable”.

I’m not saying put your life in danger, I’m saying put your ego on the cross. I’m saying “let go of my ‘eggo’”. Yeah, we all have our limits but what if Jesus was pushing them? Would you push back or would you go the distance?How far are you willing to go?

“How far is that gonna go?”  This was the question they asked Jesus when the boy gave all he had in service for the multitude. What the disciples failed to realize was who they were really hanging out with. They thought Jesus could do some cool tricks, pull off a few nifty miracles like changing water to wine but what was He gonna do with some fish and bread and close to 8,000 hungry people? This meal would barely cut it for the teenager who gave it to him much less the starving multitude!

Jesus has a way of stretching things, right? It’s not about how much there is but in whose hands it’s placed. Jesus was able to stretch those fish and bread farther than anyone could have ever imagined!

When we give our little to the Lord, He will bless it and stretch it and make it a blessing to all.

There are times when we can feel like our meager gifts, contributions and talents are nothing and yet in the hands of Christ it can go really, really far; farther than anyone could have dreamt.

However, there are times we can end up doubting Jesus has the ability to do something when we give him everything. What’s funny is that the disciples had nothing to give and they are questioning Jesus about what someone has given as though to say: “Jesus can you even really use this?” The answer was an emphatic “Yes! “Have the people sit down”.

Regardless of what you think the merit in your or another’s offering is the Lord will graciously receive anything given in faith. Faith is always blessed by the hands of Jesus.

 6 Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

How far does your faith go? Far enough to be a blessing to everyone around you? Far enough to be blessed by God?

 
 
 
 
 George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA
 

How Did He Do That? Part 2

 
 4 Now the Passover, a Jewish festival, was near. 5 Therefore, when Jesus looked up and noticed a huge crowd coming toward Him, He asked Philip, “Where will we buy bread so these people can eat?” 6 He asked this to test him, for He Himself knew what He was going to do. 7 Philip answered, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread wouldn’t be enough for each of them to have a little.” John 6:4-7
Have you ever asked a question but then gotten an answer for a different question? Or gotten an answer for something you didn’t  ask? It’s almost like the person you were talking to wasn’t listening at all!
 
 

In this passage, Jesus asks “where to buy the bread” while Phillip answers the question of “do we have enough money?” Isn’t it funny that sometimes we can jump to conclusions or try to read someone’s mind, or cut the conversation short because we really think we know what the intention is? Jesus knew all along what He was going to do but Phillip didn’t have a clue. Phillip’s mind along with the rest of the disciples had no clue what Jesus was a bout to do! And many times we are the exact same way.

How do you look at challenges that come your way? How do you deal with crisis? How often do you jump to the wrong conclusions? Phillip thought of the problem in terms of money and finances. His mentality was limited by his perception. He had no idea what Jesus was about to do. Here are a few more words of encouragement and admonishment to take away from this passage.

My help comes from the Lord. These guys were busted…flat broke. They didn’t have anything to spare. No cash, no credit, no choice. But Christ! They had Jesus!  How often has the Lord allowed us to be in a situation where our help must come from Him? It is clear in this passage that the Lord asked Phillip this question to “test” him. It is important to remember that the Lord allows us to be in certain situations to see what answers we will give. The answer the Lord was looking for was not one that Phillip gave. Phillip answered the wrong question. “Where will we get bread for these people?” The answer is “You, Lord…You!”

My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:2

When we have a crisis, challenge or question, we must turn to the Lord. He alone is our help. He alone is the One who can and will provide for His people. He is the One from Whom all blessings flow. He is not only our help, He is our hope.

My hope comes from the Lord.  I can’t blame the disciples for their answers and the way they handled things. I would have very likely been the same way! Jesus poses this question to Phillip and others to flesh out who and what is the source of hope and security. Even if they would have had a little of their own bread or fish…how likely would they have given it up? I only say that because I know my own heart and how I can wrestle with sacrificing something wondering if I will have my own needs met and taken care of. I can see how easily it is to try to hold onto what is in my hand instead of trusting it in the Lord’s hands. That’s what is amazing about this little boy and his five loves and fish!

This boy, with childlike faith surrenders all he has to the Lord’s hands. He holds nothing back. He doesn’t quibble or try to make a deal. He doesn’t cry or wonder if he will get a share. He gives all of it. This kid had hope in something greater than what he was holding onto! Jim Elliot said “He is no fool who gives that which he cannot keep for that which he cannot lose.”  We would do well to learn from Jim and this boy…find our hope in Christ, not stuff in this life!

6 “Certainly, man walks about like a mere shadow. 
Indeed, they frantically rush around in vain, 
gathering possessions 
without knowing who will get them. 
7 Now, Lord, what do I wait for? 
My hope is in You. Psalm 39:6-7

When faced with a trial or situation and answer is not clear, it is essential to not hold onto anything other than Jesus; all other ground is sinking sand. Things will pass through our hands to be a blessing to us and to others but we cannot hold onto them as our source of security and hope. The Lord is the only stable one and He is my hope and stay!

Some people trust the power of chariots or horses,but we trust you, LORD God. Psalm 20:7

 Jesus may be asking you a question through some trying time in your life…there may be some hardship you are facing and the answer you are giving is to the wrong question. Take some time and simply reflect on this passage and let the Lord convince you that He alone is your help and your hope! He already knows what He is going to do, He just wants to hear your answer.
 
 
 
 
 George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA
 

Finishing Strong: Retreat of Silence

Ever noticed that time just doesn’t stop or slow down? And so often, we don’t either. We move at break-neck speeds and before long, we can end up out of ministry, bitter, empty and jaded. One of the best practices I have found is scheduling regular time to stop, evaluate and reflect on my life. I called these times retreats of silence but you can call them whatever you like. These are “retreats” when I can talk with God over an extended period with intention and concerted focus. I don’t always “get away” somewhere but simply close my door, turn off the phone and computer and sit with the Lord. These retreats have proven invaluable. For people who want to finish strong, I cannot recommend anything more strongly than this practice to be scheduled into your normal rhythm of life.

If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen!

Why is this so important? Because I found that I was living my life for so many things and it just felt like I wasn’t getting where I needed to be. I loved the Lord but just didn’t feel like I could do enough. Then I just forced myself to stop. It’s not the stuff we do for Him…it’s being with Him. I have begun to realize the greater and deeper importance of keeping and protecting time with Jesus so as to make sure my life counts. Many years ago a friend of mine said “God made us Human Beings…Not Human Doings”.  This requires being with Jesus. It means that I have to stop what I am doing from time-to-time and simply rest in Him, hearing his voice and basking in His love and holiness. My life will only count because of Jesus and apart from Him I can do nothing. Therefore spending time with the Lord is vital in finishing strong.

Finishing strong means that I actually get to finish. Taking time to become what God wants me to be helps ensure that I do just that. It is easy to underestimate the value of spending a whole day or weekend in prayer or silence and study. With so many activities, events, services, people etc. that need my attention, it can be hard and even cause feelings of guilt by stepping away to be so “selfish”. However, I have found that I have nothing to give if I am not seriously focusing “me” time with the Lord. Christ expects us to serve Him and others out of an overflow…not scraping the bottom of the barrel! Far too many leaders are  running on near-empty, operating on mere fumes…it’s time to get some time with the Lord! It’s more important that you finish strong than to “burn-out” for Jesus!

How to have a Retreat of Silence

Determine when, where and how long. Notify people of your retreat and that you will be unavailable. Block off the time and don’t let anything interfere. With careful planning and deliberate intention, you can take the time and schedule things so that you won’t miss other meaningful events in your family’s life. Schedule your time to include prayer and Bible reading. Set aside time to sleep and rest well. Take walks and periods of time to sit and dream again. As you move through your retreat make sure you ask questions of God and yourself. Don’t push for answers but let the questions reveal your heart and lead you to God and what He may be asking of you.

Don’t rush anything especially prayer and reading scripture. The hardest thing to do is sit still, be quiet, and wait. I always want to try and find something that God is saying or make something “spiritual” happen. Just wait. Slowing ourselves is a great challenge and it may take a couple of hours to even a day for your mind to slow and become comfortable enough to listen. Allow yourself the time and space to hear from God. Read the WORD and pray…and don’t rush the conversation.

Do different things for worship. Try writing, reading, painting, photography, listening to some music as part of your worship experience. Basically, let God stretch you and speak to you in different ways than you would normally do at home or in ordinary life. Expand your worship expressions and seek to notice God in the simplicity around you that is missed while “working” and being busy. Join the rest of creation and authentically be the person God made you.

Document your discoveries. I’ve personally kept a journal for the last 26 years. They are invaluable to me!  They contain prayers and longings that I have carried deep within my soul. Using a journal to document the things God reveals to you can help you finish strong because you will have it in written form. We’re forgetful people and sometimes we just need to write it down for things to stick. Keeping a journal also helps in seeing how God answers prayers and can be a great tool in sharing testimonies and passing on legacies to those after you.

Routinely setting aside time to be still before the Lord and scheduling time for retreats of silence and reflection have been great practices for me. I have found them to be not only rewarding and full of discovery but great times of regaining strength, focus and motivation. I cannot recommend anything more highly for people who want to have longevity in ministry than to take deliberate time for retreats of silence. It’s one way to help ensure that you will finish strong!

George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA


Wayside Easter Concert

Amanda is rushing across the stage before practice while Amelia and Victoria prepare for A Better Way.

The Miami WAVE Team had a great performance last night at Wayside Baptist Church. Sharing music centered around Easter, the WAVE team lead about 150 people in worship using songs like A Better Way, How He Loves and Alive.

George was also able to share songs like Watch The Lamb and Arise My Love along with a very poignant message that inspired, encouraged and ministered to all.


How Did He Do That? Part 1

 
 4 Now the Passover, a Jewish festival, was near. 5 Therefore, when Jesus looked up and noticed a huge crowd coming toward Him, He asked Philip, “Where will we buy bread so these people can eat?” 6 He asked this to test him, for He Himself knew what He was going to do.
 7 Philip answered, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread wouldn’t be enough for each of them to have a little.” John 6:4-7
 
 Have you ever wondered how something is gonna work? I mean, you just know that there is no way it’s gonna happen…it just can’t. And then it does! There’s something about Jesus that goes beyond explanation. There’s something about trusting that He knows what He’s doing even when none of it makes sense to you. There are several cases in the scripture where this type of thing happens: Jesus does something that goes beyond the realm of belief and everyone is left scratching their heads asking, “How did He do that?” As we explore some of these thoughts and concepts over the next couple weeks, I hope that you too will discover Jesus working some wonderful, unbelievable things in your own heart and life. Perhaps you’ll be scratching your own head and saying: How did He do that?
 

Why Ask?

Have you ever felt like you are in a situation where there is no possible way that you can see how anything good is gonna work out? Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by the sheer numbers or enormity of a challenge that all you wanted to do was go home?  The passage above gives us some great insight into the way Jesus operates. Jesus asked the disciples a thought provoking question because He wondered what route they would take? He wanted to see what their heart’s response would be to meeting other’s needs when they had nothing left to offer. He wanted to see what their plan of attack would be and just how much they’d be willing to do to serve even though they were tired and weary.

How is Jesus “testing” you these days? Is He asking you a question about where something will come from? Maybe you’re asking yourself that question. In these days of financial turmoil and hardship, it wouldn’t be far from any one of us to wonder where the food is gonna come from? It wouldn’t be hard for us to look at some of life’s situations and become overwhelmed. For some, there are people around us who for whatever reason are depending on us to give them something and we feel quite inadequate and ill-prepared. Take heart! Jesus knows exactly what He is going to do even though you may not have a clue!

Jesus asks questions that we might make statements about Him.

How great would it have been if right off the bat, Phillip would have declared: “Master, I have no idea where we can get anything for these people…but I believe you can do something about it! I don’t have a thing to offer you but I believe you have something to offer us all!”

He is The Provider!

He is The Giver of all good things!

He is The Servant of all!

He is The Lover of my soul!

He does care about me and my situation!

Jesus asks questions to see if our hearts are with His.

 Jesus “noticed” the people. Some translations use words like “compassion” in regards to the way that Jesus looked at people in need. How do you look at people…especially when you are tired and ready to leave? When you have had a long day? His disciples didn’t notice the people the way He did. They looked at them as getting in the way…a hassle. How is your compassion lately? Do you find yourself asking God why He has you in a situation? Are you wondering why you should care any longer? Remember that Christ wants us to love and be loving especially when it’s not easy, when it’s inconvenient, and when it’s for people we are just tired of dealing with.
 

Jesus asks questions so we will be reminded that we must look to Him.

It wasn’t like Jesus didn’t already have a plan in place. But the disciples were not looking in the right place or to the right person. We can all fall into this trap where we feel like we have more needs to meet than is humanly possible. And it’s true. Humanly, there is nothing we can do about some things…nothing other than pray. Nothing other than come running to God. Nothing but look to Him to do something that is simply unbelievable. When we do,we come to an end of ourselves and that’s exactly the answer God is looking for!  
 
 
 
 
 
 George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA
 

Originally posted on New Vision Youth:

Hey Everyone! The New Vision WAVE Team will be performing an Easter Concert Tomorrow night! Hope to see you there! Also there is no youth meeting next week…it’s Spring Break:)

Miracles! It starts at 7pm and it’s free! Come out and experience the life-changing message of the Miracle of the Resurrection!

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Originally posted on New Vision Youth:

Saturday March 31st – New Vision Church in Fayetteville will serve our community by discounting gas .25 per gallon from 10 AM – 12 Noon at 3 diffferent stations in Fayetteville. The BP Station located at Hwy 85 and Hwy 92N. The BP Station located at Grady Avenue and Hwy 54 and the Chevron Station located at Jeff Davis and Hwy 54. For more info go to newvisionc.com

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Easter Concerts: Wayside and Southwest Community


Gethsemane: A Look At Jesus’ Prayer Session

As life continues at a rapid pace, I am finding that there is much more need for me to have personal private and public corporate times of prayer. Problems and issues, people and work, decisions and concerns all mount up and have a way of bringing me to my knees unlike ever before. Setting aside time for prayer is becoming a must in my survival during these times of unrest and unknowns.

I’m not unlike all the rest of the good-willed, God-loving Christians out there, whose best attempts for Christ-like prayer still finds them sleepy-eyed or snoring away, dreaming of God instead of talking to Him. Jesus was very familiar with this from His disciples as he roused them from sleep 3 times just before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42). In spending some time looking at Jesus’ final moments of prayer time before he was escorted away, I have seen a couple of very interesting things.

Gethsemane was no accident. The word “Gethsemane” means “vat of oil” or “oil press”.  It was a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Jesus went to this place to have his final prayer session and he intentionally brought his disciples along. It was in this place that Jesus would come face to face with the reality that He would suffer terribly and ultimately die for the human race. Just like an olive is crushed to produce the oil, Jesus would literally be “crushed” for our transgressions.During this intense time of prayer, not only does Jesus sweat and become horrified and weary but something called “hematidrosis” happens. This rare but medically documented occurrence can be brought on by extreme stress and duress, of which to be sure Jesus was subject. Jesus had brought along friends, people He loved and who “loved” him and yet they fell asleep when He needed them most. He is in the midst of the greatest and most overwhelming reality in His earthly existence and He has no one to turn to but His heavenly Father; He has nowhere to run but to prayer! He ran to Gethsemane.

It is ironic to consider the meaning of Gethsemane knowing that Jesus came to a place where olives are crushed to find some help in prayer. His prayer was a look for confirmation from His Father. Jesus prayed during those three times the same thing: “If there is any other way, let this cup pass from me yet not my will but Your will be done.” It’s not that Jesus was unwilling to follow through with the plan…however with the reality of the separation from His Father due to taking on the sin of humanity through His death…well I’d like a little confirmation too!

We all want confirmation at times, don’t we? We hear God’s voice, we sense God’s leading and we still come to God in prayer. We are not really looking for a different answer but a different way to get the same results, right? During this intense prayer time, Jesus is confirmed on a couple of levels: 1) This was the only way it would work. There was only one way to secure the redemption of Man and that was through His death. 2) God confirmed that it was His will for Him to suffer and die. It would actually please God to do this in order to save humanity!

Often in my times of prayer I don’t like the idea that there is only one way. I don’t like the idea that someone or something must die. I don’t like the idea of God taking something that is painful to me and using it for good of others. I don’t want pain. I don’t want to suffer. What I am realizing is that prayer is a time for me to align myself with what God wants. To be sure God invites us to come to him in prayer and ask what we will…He even promises to give us what we ask, when we are seeking Him. Yet in this case, it was different. God confirmed His will and His way to His Son by not giving Him a different way. Jesus had to surrender complete control to His Father’s plan.

God’s “no” was the answer. Jesus came to His Father during this time to surrender complete control of His life, destiny, future to His Father. His willingness to do so, opened up salvation for all of humanity. The Gethsemane prayer session was not one where Jesus got his prayers answered differently than what He thought. He came to be confirmed in what He knew and thought to be the case. God’s response to His Son was a “no” to any other way. God’s response to His Son was a “yes” you are the man for the job, you are the one I’m proud to call Son…You are the One! God the Father was asking Jesus to believe that even when life was seemingly completely out of control, that it really wasn’t. The Father was affirming Jesus that when all Hell breaks loose that his Father was still in control.

I am finding that in my times of disbelief, struggle, and pain, that I often do wonder if God is in control. With life, the battles can become so intense sometimes that all I want to do is run to someone or something and medicate or escape for just a little while. These are all things we do to try and control our situations, our lives, and even other’s lives. Jesus is the consummate example of someone whose life is unraveling and yet He never loses faith, trust and belief in His Father. Even in the “no”, Jesus was a “go”. I take great comfort in knowing that I can trust God with the results and that even when the results look like death, they will spring forth into new life! Prayer is not about changing God’s mind or just trying to change my situations. Prayer is about being conformed to His image.

Prayer does change things but it primarily changes me. In the Garden, Jesus essentially dies. It takes the process of crucifixion for His body to catch up with His mind and His will. Prayer is no less than that for me. In prayer I come to God, seek His face, seek His will and desires, get His confirmation, surrender control and thus become conformed to the likeness of His Son. In prayer I die. In prayer I find real life. In prayer I become what God desires for me to be.

The disciples were unaware of what Jesus was going through because they slept instead of praying. They could not fathom the depth of his suffering nor embrace the cross He would bear because they did not join Him in these moments of intense prayer.  If I am to become like Christ and be able to withstand the suffering of my own cross, the burdens that God lays on me, the humility of  persecution, the isolation of misunderstanding, the peril of great price, I cannot do it apart from prayer. It is through prayer that I am conformed to His likeness and it is in dying to my will that God’s will is accomplished. It is through sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings that I become resurrected in His likeness. Philippians 3:10-11

With life’s battles engaging me, I am seeking to engage God more and more. Is this not the whole point of prayer after all…Engage God? While there may be pain for a season and some dreams may be crushed, the end result will be far beyond belief: God will be glorified, people will be saved, and I will be conformed to the likeness of Jesus! That’s the ultimate answer to prayer!

George Lockhart


In Miami discussing future ministry of V2H and YCR and WAVE Team practices :)


Don’t Let Spring Break Break You!

Synonymous with partying are the words Spring Break! In fact, many will be venturing to the warmer climates over the next couple of weeks to drink, party, hook-up and have the “time of their lives”. It’s no secret that for many, Spring Break proves to be a time anticipated and eagerly awaited to break free from parents and cut loose of restraints. But what about the Christian student? What does he or she do in this situation to maintain a high level of integrity and morality? How can a Christian maintain their testimony during Spring Break? Here are a few things to consider as you make your way to “vacation”.

1) It’s not a vacation. It’s not a break. At no time can a Christian take a “break”. We have Sabbath, a time of rest and reliance upon God but not a “break”. Christian students who are going to a “party” location need to be careful in letting their guards down while in this scenario. I’m not against Christians going to the beach or exotic locations for Spring Break. What I’m saying is that this can be viewed as a “mission” instead of a vacation or break. This is a time when Christians will have their beliefs, faith and morality put to the test. This is a time when everything will be tried. Christians, don’t let down your guard while on “break”. The evil one will have no greater delight than to see you stumble big time.

8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9

2) Pray often and everywhere. As you meet and greet friends and make new acquaintances be prayerful. No meeting is just by “chance”. God may very well intend to use you as a “witness” to those you are with. Be attentive to conversations and the Holy Spirit who lives inside of you. Listen to and watch for opportunities to share your faith and hope in Christ. I’m not saying be obnoxious, I’m saying be discerning. Giving words of encouragement and reasons why life can be lived differently is a great way to not compromise and influence your friends. Christ is with you everywhere you go and you bring Him with you as you go. Stay in communion with him as you encounter others.

17 Pray constantly. 
18 Give thanks in everything, 
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 
19 Don’t stifle the Spirit. 
20 Don’t despise prophecies, 
21 but test all things. 
Hold on to what is good. 
22 Stay away from every kind of evil.

 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-24

3) Beware of lust. There is no doubt that in many cases for most young men and many young women, lust can become a huge factor during Spring Break. Even though the heart may be the residing place of lust, it affects our minds, bodies and decisions. Guard your eyes and thoughts during Spring Break. Beware of taking lust lightly. Don’t allow yourself to be in a compromising situation on the beach, in a hotel room, or even in a crowded party where you can be hidden. The point is that lust will be present during your Spring Break trip and if you don’t take the necessary precautions to protect yourself, this could be a major problem. Remember that all actions do not have immediate results.Galatians 6:7-8 Lust and it’s affects may not be readily seen but it can alter your entire life for the rest of your life.

10 For wisdom will enter your mind,
and knowledge will delight your heart.
11 Discretion will watch over you,
and understanding will guard you,
12 rescuing you from the way of evil—
from the one who says perverse things,

Proverbs 2:10-12

1-4“I made a solemn pact with myself never to undress a girl with my eyes.
So what can I expect from God?
What do I deserve from God Almighty above?
Isn’t calamity reserved for the wicked?
Isn’t disaster supposed to strike those who do wrong?
Isn’t God looking, observing how I live?
Doesn’t he mark every step I take?

Job 31:1-4 The Message

4) Beware of drugs and alcohol. Partying would not be partying without drugs and alcohol many would say. As a student, Christian or not,  make sure you are not involved in any illegal activity. If you get to a place where you sense drugs and alcohol are present, find an alternative place to go. Don’t stay in a location that could lead to other compromises, danger or police involvement. It’s important to be safe in having fun. Once alcohol and drugs are involved the partying goes from being safe to potentially deadly. For those over 21, obviously you are no longer “students” in the traditional sense of the word but may I urge you to take your life and actions seriously also and do not allow alcohol and illegal substances to ruin your testimony or life! Be responsible!

So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!

 17Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.

 18-20Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:15-20 The Message

5)Stay connected. Check in with your parents and friends often. Keep track of your cell phone and don’t give out tons of personal information to people you don’t know. Stay in groups with your friends and don’t travel alone anywhere! Set up times to connect so that people will be able to track you and you can track your friends. I know it sounds childish but so many people have gotten in life-threatening situations because they didn’t do these type of things! Leave a trail and make sure people know how and where to find you! Don’t change your plans without notifying someone!

6) Read your Bible. I know this sounds too “Christian” right? But as a Christian, the Bible is essential to our everyday lives. We have to saturate ourselves with the Word. Even though you may be out of your “normal” routine, make sure you set aside time to soak in the Word as well as the sun. God will use His word in your life during Spring Break to teach you. His Word will strengthen you and even protect you as He uses it to lead you. Read and heed God’s Word during Spring Break. Knowing God’s word isn’t a guarantee that the Christian won’t mess up but it’s much less likely when we are spending time in his word!

 How can a young person live a clean life? 
      By carefully reading the map of your Word. 
   I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; 
      don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. 
   I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart 
      so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. 

Psalm 119:10-11 The Message

For the Christian student who wants to make the most of Spring Break, decide what your boundaries and values are on these issues before you step out of your residence. Before you head off to Spring Break make some definitive decisions and contracts with God, yourself, your friends and parents. Don’t let Spring Break break you!


Finishing Well

As my thoughts have been on the class of 2012 the last couple of days, I have been thinking about what sentiments to give them in their last few weeks before moving on into the great unknown. I’d like to add a few more thoughts that can hopefully be helpful and challenging.

Paul finishes up his letter to Timothy in the book of 2 Timothy by saying:

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)

What would it take to be able to say those words on graduation day? What would you have to do in these last few weeks before Pomp and Circumstance is echoing through your ears as you walk across that stage?

1) Remember this is a fight to endure! The last few weeks of school will no doubt be filled with many celebrations, parties and memorable moments but don’t let your guard down! Satan will not hesitate to take a shot if he can even in the final round.

8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9

Even though you are near the end and have endured much, there are still ways for you to lose in the end. Don’t allow compromise, pride or peer pressure to seep in and steal the joy of finishing well. You may have had a difficult year or years and the finish line is in sight…don’t lose sight now! Fight!

2) Remember this is a race to finish! It’s not about being the fastest but the finisher. Far too many Christians get focused on the wrong things. Image and sin control, behavioral modification and sin management become normal for many teens going through middle and high school. What tends to happen is that many students become overwhelmed with the fact that perfection is unattainable and therefore dropout of the race altogether. They feel that if they can’t “win”, then why “run”? Paul is clear here that the emphasis is on finishing not winning!

On graduation day there will only be one Valedictorian and yet everyone will get a diploma…those who meet the requirements that is. In these last few weeks of school don’t focus on being perfect, focus on finishing well. Focus on making sure you have made things right with people. Make sure that you express forgiveness and demonstrate peace. When you fail a test, study more and prepare better…surely you will graduate even if you fail a test! It’s not the test that fails you…it’s the teacher. In this spiritual case, Christ has already promoted you and all you have to do is cross the finish line. Run to the end. If you fall down, get back up and start running again. It doesn’t matter if you come in last place…just finish and make every effort to finish well.

Though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin.Proverbs 24:16

3) Remember this is a faith to keep. In the end, when all is said and done, what will matter most to you is how you depart the school. Paul was nearing the end of his life when he was penning the words “I have kept the faith” to young Timothy. He was able to say with great joy that he had kept the faith and had no regrets. Keeping the faith is really about what you leave behind. What kind of legacy will you leave? As Paul had invested in Timothy, so you too should be looking to impart your words of life, wisdom and knowledge to those around you. There are certainly younger eyes watching you from somewhere in your life. Impart to them your love, faith and hope. Make an impression upon them as you make your exit. Allow their hearts to be warmed by seeing you finish well. This will give them reason to continue the faith knowing that you kept your faith all the way to the end!

Graduation Day or Commencement is really a spring board into your future but don’t jump quite yet. Make the most of these last few weeks and share your life, stories, and memories with those you love. Live up and live out your faith. Take your life more seriously than ever but don’t take yourself so seriously that you can’t laugh and have fun! You get one shot at finishing this race well, so run well and fight hard all the way to the end. And as you walk across that stage on graduation day you will not only be proud but many others will be too because they will know you finished well and didn’t compromise your faith!

 

George Lockhart


The handwriting is in the text!

It wasn’t that long ago that I myself felt like texting was the dumbest thing ever…were you like that once? Well I got beyond it pretty quickly and so have many other adults descending back into adolescence and ascending into the 21st century. Recent studies show that if you ain’t texting with a teen then you ain’t connecting with a teen.

Check out this information courtesy of Lab 42

With texting going up each month and more and more teens and even tweens using phones to connect, those of us in ministry must find ways to stay connected via text. Email has jumped the shark and gone the way of the dinosaur! Finding creative ways to connect through mobil devices and especially through cell phones is what we must focus on if we want to remain connected to youth culture. Teens are sending and receiving an average of 60 per day and 75% of those polled say they text regularly. How can we use texting to our advantage?

Text meaningfully. Don’t just send out blanket Bible verses all the time. Intentionally and personally connect with as many students as you can. I know that this is a tough challenge and there’s nothing wrong with sending the typical announcements and reminders via text. However if that’s all your teen gets from you, they will ignore and block your texts in the future. Teens use their phones to connect not to be advertised to. Use your phone and texts to connect not to just send commercials!

Text methodically. Don’t overload your teen with lots of information in a text. It will get lost and or not even read in the midst of their innumerable other texts. Strategically schedule when and what you want to say. Remember that we live in a society now that conditions them to operate in sound bites and status updates. Take the challenge to get your texts into 140 characters or less.

Text manners. Don’t fret when you don’t hear anything back. I used to have such a hard time with this, expecting the conversation to end with a good-bye or see you later or something like that. However in the world of texts, there are not rules to ending conversations…they just sort of stop and pick back up at another time or place. Kids aren’t being rude (all the time) when they don’t respond immediately or they don’t text back to “end” the conversation. Be an informed texter and learn some of the lingo and shorthand with texting. This will go a long way in helping you understand what is really being said and how you can say what you need too in a little bit of space.

Text ministry. Who would have ever thought that one day we would be talking (texting) and consider it ministry? And yet…it is! Learning to connect and have brief conversations with a teen via text can prove to be a huge bridge builder now for down the road when they really need to talk to someone face to face. If you haven’t realized it yet, texting is the way to go to connect to any kid these days…the handwriting is on their phone and it should be on yours!

George Lockhart


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