Tag Archives: #CE

Solo No More

by Susan Markloff, Mission Weeks Assistant Director for Christian Endeavor U.S.A.

Every year at Mission Weeks, we strive to choose a theme that is relevant to youth, and can be an easy reminder for both campers and staff of what the Lord will teach us during our time at camp. My dad, Paul Markloff, is the one who has had the great insight into our themes the last two years. He likes to talk about how he came up with Solo No More, because it was in a place where Jesus can sometimes be absent from our minds.

In August of 2018, we as a family found ourselves in San Diego, California for World Christian Endeavor’s convention. By the end of it all, we decided to head north and join my brother and his family in Disneyland for a day to unwind from the marathon to California. While walking around Tomorrowland, there were posters and banners advertising the new Han Solo movie, the word “Solo” plastered everywhere.

As we traversed the crowds, my dad honed in on the word “solo” and began to think about how contrary that is for a Christian. We aren’t solo. We’re anything but solo. When we become believers in Jesus and saved by Grace, we instantly are brought into the family of God, adopted and rescued. For the rest of our lives, we have a defender, helper, healer, Almighty God at our side through all of life’s trials and tribulations. My dad turned to me and said, “Hey, what do you think of ‘Solo No More’ for our camp theme next year?”

We chose Romans 8:38-39 as our theme verses; “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Take a look at what’s referenced there in the “Things that can’t take us away from Jesus” category. It’s a stream of consciousness kind of list, where the Paul starts listing things only to go, “Y’know what, it’s pretty much everything in all of creation. None of it can take you away from God’s love. Not even death.” Mic drop.

This is such a comfort! Do you know how often I mess up and cave to sin? Daily! Whether it’s my actions, my words, or my thoughts, it’s a good day if I’ve only sinned once. And none of the days behind me or before me (that will undoubtedly be littered with my failures in life), none of those could make God not love me because of my faith in Jesus. Does that mean I’m going to skate through life because God “has” to forgive me?

Not a million years.

I refuse to let Satan get the better of me and just sit there and wallow in my sin. As though my sin were a muddy puddle, I won’t continue to let the mud and grime soak into my clothing and skin when I fall down. Instead I will quickly get back to my feet and run to my Father for help. And I know that He will receive me with open arms and swat Satan away like the bug that he is.

We all have this blessed assurance, and I cannot wait to explore the theme of Solo No More at Mission Weeks this year.

Travel to the Land of Many gods: What a Christian Learned in Kathmandu Part 2: Three Insights

by Dr. Dave Coryell, General Secretary World-CE and Executive Director CE-USA

*If you didn’t get a chance to see last week’s blog, check that out first for a better understanding of this blog.

While in Kathmandu, Nepal, I observed individuals practicing their spiritual rituals in hopes that doing just enough of the right things in the right way, they could appease their god.  Looking back, here are three insights from that experience.

Insight #1

I have been thankful for God’s grace displayed through the death of His Son and co- equal Jesus Christ since I was a boy. I have grown in my understanding of what it meant for Jesus to come, die, rise again, and prepare to come again, but the fact that grace is integral to Christ cannot be avoided. Ephesians 2 says we are saved by grace through faith, not by all the stuff that we do! No amount of chanting, spinning, painting or jumping is going to bring me closer to perfection. Thank you God for your grace through Jesus Christ that saves those who call upon your name!

Insight #2

I do not have to “Do” in order to meet God, but it is wrong to think that once I know Christ that I am supposed to do nothing! My love for Christ compels me to act. I do not need to scrub lime on an ungodly altar, but I do need to live my life in a way that the world can see me and fully recognize that there is something different about me.

Insight #3

Finally, I came to a much clearer understanding of Acts 19. In this chapter we read about Paul’s work building the church and God’s Kingdom. Miracles occurred and people began coming to know Jesus. Demetrius, a Silversmith, recognized the economic impact Paul’s ministry was beginning to have on their business. People traveled great distances to worship at Artemis’ temple on of the Wonders of the World. Silversmiths made a great profit by fashioning idols and artifacts required for this pagan worship. Suddenly, Paul’s work was bringing the worship of Artemis into question which also threatened their livelihood. Walking around the Boudha Stupa, I was able to picture Acts 19. What would happen to Nepal and specifically Kathmandu if Buddhism was exposed as a truly empty religion? Poor vendors would go out of business. Revenue from tourism would dry up. A country with little income would face an even more impoverishing situation.

Good news! After a week in Nepal and many great conversations in the morning with my waiter, I learned he was a Christian converted by travelers a few weeks before. I was able to guide him in how to read the Bible and connect him with a contact who began taking him to church.

In the Land of many gods- there is still only one God whose grace guides us, gives us life, gives us hope, and surprises us when we least expect. God, YOU, are the one and only true God!

3 Steps to Make Change Stick in 2019

by Dave Coryell

Surviving Quitter’s Week: 3 ways to make resolutions stick (even if they are already broken)

Debate exists regarding how long the average person carries out a New Year’s resolution. Most reports seem to have about 80% giving up on their aspirations by January 12th (World Quitter’s Day) with additional reports saying that goals related to fitness are normally dropped by January 17th. According to USA Today Psychologist Professor John Norcross from Scranton University says that 40% are successful at the six month mark with fitness goals. So some people are successful at keeping those resolutions!

It is good to know that new standards can be set and maintained. However, the world’s masses seem to have a difficult time making adjustments lasting more than a few weeks.

Several years ago I stumbled across the book “Change or Die” by Alan Deutschman. The book presents three steps that helped classic no-change stereotypes from prison inmates to unionized workers. These steps can be helpful for us as we try to establish new faith growth patterns or even goals for mental, physical, emotional or relational living.

Step 1- Relate. In order to have a new way of living, new relationships are necessary. First and foremost, a relationship with Jesus Christ begins life transformation in a person. Along with this begins the process of seeing Christ lived out through other people. If you are reading this and do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, please reach out to us and we can guide you through understanding what this means. Others, if you want to grow in an area of weakness, establish a relationship with someone who is either stronger in this area than you or can lovingly hold you accountable. For instance, at one point I wanted to exercise more regularly. I tried accomplishing this on my own and made little progress. Then I talked with a friend, Tom, and we decided to exercise together. This started a deeper friendship while also helping us both keep a regular exercise schedule. Start a relationship that can help you change. Key word: RELATE!

Step 2- Repeat. Find the changes you want to make and repeat them over and over again. You want to discipline yourself to floss, do it every day! Trying to set a new time to roll out of bed, set your time and follow through no matter how challenging. Want to read your Bible every day, talk with that accountability person from Step 1 (Relate), set a time, choose a plan, then do it every day. Repeat the practice and follow through. Here is the challenge. You may have heard it takes 21 days to make a habit. 21 days beyond that will make it an unbreakable habit. Unfortunately, reputable research does not back up this myth. As you know, God has wired people differently. According to Oliver Burkeman, writer for The Guardian, the University College London psychologist, Phillippa Lally, studied habit forming. “On average, her subjects, who were trying to learn new habits such as eating fruit daily or going jogging, took a depressing 66 days before reporting that the behavior had become unchangingly automatic. Individuals ranged widely – some took 18 days, others 245 – and some habits, unsurprisingly, were harder than others to make stick.” Bottom line, forming habits takes discipline and a commitment to repeat a practice over and over. Fortunately, also from Lally’s study, you can miss an occasional day along the way and still stay on track. Key word: REPEAT!

Step 3- Reframe. The first two steps you probably can grasp pretty easily. Have relationships that will support, encourage and at times admonish your desire to repeat a new life practice. Say for instance a furniture maker builds a wooden chair and then puts a beautiful stain on it. The chair is then placed outside. The chair itself represents change relationships. The stain represents the repeated steps taken daily. Unfortunately, this chair will break down from the elements- sun, rain, cold, heat. Before long the chair will crack and splinter. Step three is Reframe. Reframing with this analogy is like painting a protective coat over the top of the chair’s stained surface. Reframing takes a new look at how one lives. For instance, I can stop eating potato chips because I do not want to gain weight. This may last for a while until I eat some chips, then eat them the next day, and then begin having them all the time. Reframing the situation asks why I’m not eating potato chips and goes deeper than weight loss. I begin to reframe my choices based on healthy living instead of simply trying to lose a few pounds. Suddenly I begin to consider what I am gaining through my choices instead of lamenting what I have lost. My choice equals health GAINED verses potato chips LOST. Key Word: REFRAME.

Relate, Repeat, Reframe- wisdom for us as we try to change. May God grip your heart and help you make changes that will honor Him with your life in 2019!

African Journey: A C.E. trip to Nigeria and Egypt

NIGERIA

My journey began Tuesday, January 2, 2018 as I boarded a plane for Frankfurt, Germany that after a layover would transport me to Lagos, Nigeria. Nigeria boasts Africa’s largest population and plentiful natural resources. Southern Nigeria welcomes Christian teaching while Muslim practices dominates Nigeria’s North (90% Muslim). Christianity’s explosive growth has especially occurred amongst charismatic congregations. Christian Endeavor truly holds a non-denominational position in Nigeria as pastors from various backgrounds follow C.E. because of its biblical platform. Currently about sixty churches connect with C.E. and a whole new region is opening that could greatly expand this work in Nigeria and a few churches over the border in the Republic of Benin.

I was greeted at the airport by Bishop Rev. Dr. Joseph O. Adeosun, C.E. Nigeria’s President as well as Dr. Toyin, VP for Nigeria. Bishop Adeosun has been the catalyst with the C.E. Nigeria efforts. The first C.E. Leadership Academy started on the evening of January 4. About one hundred and fifty people filled the church hall as Dr. Adeosun and I both offered welcome messages in between interpretive dances and praise worship choruses. After three hours together we all retired for the evening. The next morning approximately sixty people gathered to start the training. This number grew to about eighty by mid-morning. A format including lecture as well as small group interactive discussion was used. A longer break was taken at lunch but we covered significant material from morning until ending the day with dinner. The teachers included Bishop Adeosun, VP Modou Kanteh, and me.

Attendance was light at the start of the next day. We were confused that only fifteen people were present. We learned 98% of the Nigerian churches hold weekly prayer and worship services from 11PM to 4AM. Yes, you read that correctly! By 11AM most of the group had returned. Our day concluded at dinner time again. The sessions we planned seemed to truly impact the participants. In talking with VP for Africa Momodou Kanteh, he plans to identify several key leaders from the group and follow up with them to continue processing the material. We are hopeful that this will help them to further reinforce the messages with their people. I am receiving messages from participants that God used the training in a powerful manner.

Long range planning- developing parts of the world are starving for this level of training, however, they barely have the resources to pay for transport to the event. Considering lodging, food, and training materials makes this kind of event financially out of reach. An offering was taken one night and it amounted to $12! Recognize the average worker makes $50 per month here. We are called by God to make disciples of ALL nations. We are also called to Consider the Cost. Please pray with me as we live in the tension of carrying out C.E.’s purpose while living in the reality that we are a tremendously underfunded ministry. This event took place mostly because of a scholarship gift. Events beyond the Feb/Mar event in India and Lebanon may need to have funding from various donors to take place.

On Sunday we visited two C.E. churches. One was in Nigeria and the other was in the Republic of Benin. Both churches welcomed us with song and dance. Next we drove sixty kilometers to a new Nigerian C.E. “Zone”. This drive took over two hours. The roads have virtually fallen apart. Riding in the van can be compared with white water rafting. One person drives while others look for the rocks and pot holes that could break your axle like many other cars alongside the road. When we arrived there was a great ceremony. We were introduced to the regional King who was a pastor before taking on his monarchical role. He concluded our time together by explaining he has a plot of land to use for educating children and youth. Since twenty churches have closed in the area he sees young people not being trained for Christ. Then he asked us to think about receiving this land to start an education project. This was a generous offer. Unfortunately it is outside the scope of what we currently are able to do. We must covenant to pray about this need, however, because a Christian school in this region would touch numerous lives for Christ.

To close the Nigerian experience, it was humbling in many ways. When an airport guard asked for a bribe to allow the training manuals to clear immigration, I was humbled when a female police officer rescued me just in time. I was humbled to ride in the middle of the van for the safety of myself and the other passengers because spotting me could cause us to be targeted by criminals. I was humbled to sleep in a hotel room with rolling power outages where I needed to lock and bolt the door answering only for my contact as criminal activity and kidnapping are rampant. Finally, I was humbled by watching ten Nigerian children play soccer on a small church concrete pad with a tennis ball. The game continued with both sides displaying incredible skill until the ball split in half. The children ran away to find another game. I walked over to the “ball” only to discover it was actually an unripe orange that had fallen from a tree. Finally, I was humbled to meet so many wonderful servants of God involved with C.E. Nigeria. Dr. Adeosun and his son-in-law took special care to ensure my safety and the safety of those involved with the event.

EGYPT

Egypt’s one hundred million people mostly connect to Muslim teaching. Prayer chants rang out three times a day from the local Mosque’s loud speakers reminding me of the country’s vast spiritual need. The majority of Christians are Coptic which is a very traditional group resembling Catholicism. Coptic Christians have little emphasis on outreach.

I landed in Cairo and was transported three hours to Alexandria. I had productive meetings with my contact there during the next two days. The first day focused on explaining C.E. in great detail. The entire C.E. process was described so he could understand how it works in the local church. I had gone through the process with him with a ZOOM connection (online tool) but the personal connection allowed much more to be understood by him. He will be sharing about C.E. with his church but he thinks C.E. could assist refugees across the Mediterranean rim and across Europe because no one is giving refugees discipleship method assistance. Egyptian churches are slow to think about “OUT” as an important function of their ministry so C.E. could be slower to grow in Egypt.

The following day we focused on his ministry. He has a significant ministry with refugees in Turkey that speak Arabic. I have not mentioned his name for his protection as he makes several trips per year into a region that is 90% Muslim. His travel name is Joseph so we will use this to describe him. One of his functions is networking people who are doing refugee ministry. So I plan to connect him with Raffi Messerlianand, C.E. President in Lebanon, as well as some people in Germany who are reaching out to refugees through their local youth ministries. My time in Egypt was very short but the relational connection was well worth it. Joseph has also agreed to translate the Quick Start Manual into Arabic which means we will have an Arabic description of the C.E. Principles (Up, In, With, Out) and the pledge/promise in Arabic as well. This will not have the iPledge and TEAM Work Manual documents translated, but I am thrilled that the first step will be taken by translating the Quick Start.

Observing Christians in Nigeria and Egypt that face daily persecution brings deeper perspective to Christian commitment. Praise God for all the saints God has reached and connected with C.E. so together we can take steps to make God’s name great among the nations. Peace!

DC
Dr. Dave Coryell
General Secretary

Life Builders Perspective

One of our new attending church groups shared their blog post with us. Check out their summary of a Life Builders C.E. Work Camp experience:

Day 7 of our mission trip was our trip back home. Some of us had stayed up past midnight and got up at 6am, so it was a time to catch up on sleep. It was also a time to reflect on the amazing week we had.

We remember the two church members who stopped by to say thanks and to haul away demolition trash. They expressed such gratitude to us and wanted us to bring that thank you back to the generous congregation that sent us. Ms. Wyman also expressed so much joy about being blessed that her water was finally running. We wish you could have been there to see her gestures as she described being able to wash her face after working twelve hours. She was so excited at 1am about being able to run her dishwasher again. And she also extended her thanks to the congregation that brought Will, Sam, and Brian to her home to complete the repairs.

While driving, I asked Will and Sam what the highlights of the week were. Will compared with three other mission trips he has been on.

#1 this was better organized in terms of the work, materials and folks to teach you the skills.

#2 there were 80 youth and much was done to help us get to know each other. More than one church was represented at each job site.

#3 we sang songs during camp gathering that were new and contemporary. It did not feel like traditional hymns in a traditional worship service.

Each church took a turn at saying a prayer before each meal. Will and Sam each got a turn to lead 80+ in a prayer that they created.

God Sightings: Each evening there was an opportunity for any work camper to share with the group how they have seen God at work. Each was asked to stand, and share their name, church and sighting.

Care Cards: Each camper was given an envelope to color and post on the wall. During the week we each could put encouraging notes in the envelopes of other campers. We were not allowed to peek until the drive home. Will and Sam read some of theirs out loud, while Brian drove.

Chores: Every day each church was assigned a different chore to clean up an area of our living space.The idea that we all take care of each other was reinforced.

Thick and Thin: Pastor Bill has described those places or times when it is especially easy to feel close to God. I could not begin to count the number of times I had that feeling during this week. It is easy to remember how sick I was. During that time, I was able to hold on partly by hoping and praying that God had a plan for me. Working with youth is clearly part of God’s plan for me.  I am so blessed.

What’s next? The Christian Endeavor Life Builders have announced the dates for the 2016 work camps. I can clear my calendar. I believe Will and Sam are planning a trip to France. Hopefully they can do both and we can get 6-10 additional youth to join us. I believe Peter hopes to take a group from his new church in Philadelphia.

Draft Day

Jameis Winston
Yesterday the NFL draft began. Millions watched as Florida State’s Jameis Winston was chosen first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The next player chosen was Oregon’s Marcus Mariota who went to Tennessee. Both of these players are 6’4” and weigh over 220 pounds. They are intelligent, athletic and have arms that resemble cannons when throwing a football. Anyone with football sense would say both these players are guarantees for pro football greatness. History seems to say both these young men will probably not excel. NFL teams view films, study statistics, and hold private training sessions. They hope they can discover what makes a person a valuable choice.
Many student ministries treat youth discipleship like it is the NFL draft. God has provided incredible stories like David being chosen as Israel’s future king even though his outward appearance did not make him a typical draft choice (1 Samuel 16:7). However, youth workers look for the brightest and the best students in their churches to act as leaders amongst their peers. I hear many adult youth ministry leaders dream out loud. They wish and hope for one or two key students who can help transform their student ministry into a disciple-making factory. Look at the motley crew Jesus chose. How many disciples would have been chosen if there was a disciple draft two thousand years ago? Probably only one! He would have been chosen because of his talent and eye toward upward mobility- Judas! How many kids have you met named Judas? The other eleven would not have gone as high draft picks but Jesus saw the heart. Through these men He changed the world.
Picture a discipleship draft in your church’s student ministry. Consider how you would conduct this draft. Would you use an NFL system where people are selected because of their outward skills, appearance and mental sharpness? Maybe you would give everyone a chance. This can be equally ineffective. The godly way forward encourages people to look at the heart. Christian Endeavor has an exciting process helping churches to take this step. So before you conduct your next youth ministry “draft” consider going to www.cemidatlantic.org, click on the “Get Started” button, and learn a different way of doing youth ministry.

Absolutes?

superbowl2015“Absolutes.” The concept is radically impacting youth and their families. Two examples from the past few weeks will help demonstrate this. Absolute truth is what Bible believing Christians contend is available for all people at all times through all of history. However, anyone believing in any kind of god needs to believe in absolutes. Recently, the sports world brought one of the greatest absolute value clashes between three cultural gods in recent memory.

Cultural god number one is sports. This god’s absolutes are called rules. These rules help guarantee that all participants have a fair chance in the competition. Every sport has a clearly defined rule set.

Cultural god number two is called relativism. This god says that an individual can make up his or her own absolutes. One person can believe anything he or she wants to believe as long as another person has the right to believe something different.

Cultural god number three is money with a close relative to this god being power. This god’s absolute says any course of action is acceptable provided more money is acquired.

Now that I’ve given a brief definition to these cultural gods, let’s examine two sports events that allowed these gods to clash. First is the Super Bowl. Over one billion people tune in to watch this new holiday event. The half time show is lauded as the year’s biggest annual concert where Katy Perry was hired to strut her stuff. Advertisers pour $4.5 million per commercial in order to grab the viewer’s attention for their products. Football, like all sports, is designed with absolutes. It was learned on the Monday following the New England Patriots winning the AFC Championship that they cheated. What is worse is that the team they played the week before had given tips that this cheating had occurred, meaning it was not a one time event. Let the “god” clash begin. Sports need clear rules in order for this god to exist in its most true form. Violating the rules means absorbing penalties. However, god number two quickly stepped into the picture. People were heard on live television making statements such as “deflating the footballs didn’t change the outcome of the game”, “the Patriots would have won anyway”, “it wasn’t that big of a deal”, “everybody cheats; they just got caught.”

Contrast this event with the disqualification of Jackie Robinson West and the title they won in the Little League Championship series. JRW had illegal rostered players because adults recruited players outside the legal boundaries for their team. The Little League organizers acted quickly and took away JRW’s crown. The response from commentators and media specialists allowed relativism to emerge once again. The comments heard on the news were, “those poor boys have to suffer for the rest of their lives because of a few adults.” The reality is that these boys will remember this for the rest of their lives. There will be disappointment, but there will also be a lesson about ethics and morality.

So why did JRW get disqualified but the New England Patriots didn’t? Enter cultural god number 3. In time, sanctions may be handed down upon the Pats, but imagine what would have happened if one of the titan football teams headed to the Super Bowl championship had been disqualified. The implications could have put advertising dollars at risk. Viewers may have boycotted watching the event. Instead, nothing was done immediately and now three weeks later people have moved on. By the time any discipline is handed down, it will be a small matter. When money and power were not an issue, the absolutes of god number one helped make the JRW decision a simple one.

As we live in a culture wrestling with many gods to follow, I’m reminded of Paul’s experience from Acts 17 in Athens. He said, “I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: To an Unknown God. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.” We live in a culture wrestling with many gods. The church buildings and occasional crosses we see hanging in prominent places have become altars to an Unknown God for the 50% of our population that doesn’t have a thought about God in a given day. (statistic from Dr. Gary Davis, New England Evangelistic Development, Inc.) As we continue to live in this culture, recognize that opening people’s eyes to the one true God is opening their eyes to an Unknown God amongst many.

Hit the Target- Take a Risk

targetUnusual gifts randomly appear at Christmas time in our home. Our 10 year old, Zach, was given a set of lawn darts. No, they aren’t the original lawn darts that impaled many an innocent picnic by-stander and brought lawsuits upon American toy makers. These lawn darts have safe hard rubber tips and would be hard pressed to impale a small mammal let alone a human being. We tried all kinds of throws in our attempt to combat the wind and land our dart inside the orange circle. Eventually, Zach and I both had success hitting the target.

My time playing with Zach reminds me of youth discipleship in three ways. First, it is important to understand this target. For those of you in youth ministry, it is easy to become distracted and begin aiming at targets that do not have a purpose. Discipleship is the goal God calls us to in Matthew 28:19-20. This is more important than building the biggest group and conducting the most impressive community service project. Parents and Guardians, this is our goal as we raise our kids. Sure it would be great if our children go pro in whatever hobby they enjoy. But at the end of the day, we need to ask if we’ve hit the mark of guiding our children as disciples of Christ.

Second, it will take some risks in order to hit the target. Look at Jesus. He used all kinds of unique teaching methods to get His disciples’ attention.  We have started a New Year, what unique methods can you use to grow teens in your church closer to Jesus? Consider how teens in your family or extended family can be challenged to grow as a disciple by you doing something unique to capture their attention.

Third, and finally, discipleship happens on the journey. It is both the end goal and the essence of what happens along the way. The time I invested with Zach playing lawn darts was just as important as the goal of hitting the target. As you invest time in teenagers’ lives they will see how you model Christ. Your commitment to Him will open doors for teens to grow closer to God as you steer them in His direction.

May God bless you as you begin 2015. May you Hit the Mark, Take a Risk, and avoid being impaled by any flying objects in the process!

I Used to Enjoy Election Time . . .

voteI used to enjoy election time. Energy and excitement flowed from candidate’s messages. Rallies were held. Hands shaken. Speeches delivered. On election night I would be glued to the television anticipating the results and how they would impact my life. I leaned out of my seat. Waiting, waiting, until finally the announcer would say, “The polls are in and we are projecting that the Winner is . . .”

I used to enjoy election time. Today I’m jaded by constant mudslinging. Elections now come as more of a burden than a joy. Mudslinging began in the late 1700’s and was much more vicious years ago than it is today. What makes current mudslinging frustrating is how many media outlets are available for negative campaigning. The average US citizen is bombarded with negative messages for months by phone, mail, e-mail, social media, lawn signs, billboards, and anything else a candidate can derive.

I used to enjoy election time. Someday maybe I will enjoy it again. In the meantime, let’s consider what messages we teach our teenagers through the voting process. I teach my children responsibility through voting at every election. Our society teaches teenagers about values, current events, democracy, strategy and communications through campaigning. We also teach teenagers that “the ends justify the means” when mudslinging is used.

I encourage you, as you serve the teenagers in your church or care for the teenagers God has blessed you with in your home, to talk with them about what elections mean. Ask them about government policies, current events, and even mudslinging. Ask them how they think God views the candidates. Ask them what they would do if faced with an “evil” opponent in an election. Would they justify telling the world about a person’s shortcomings in order to gain votes and popularity? Would a great emphasis be placed upon sharing personal strengths or tearing an opponent down by exposing the person’s faults?

Ephesians 4:29 reads, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

This verse challenges me. It helps me realize why I used to enjoy election time but find frustration in it today. Election time does serve as a reminder that I need to grow in my ability to build others up. I need to encourage them according to their needs in order to benefit anyone who is willing to listen. God, grant us the ability to carry out this difficult task as we live each day for you.

Missed the Memo in South Korea

You’ve probably heard the phrase “I missed the memo.” It refers to a person caught in a situation where everyone appears to be prepared except you. I enjoyed the last week in South Korea at the Christian Endeavor World Convention. Three thousand people attended. Lifetime memories were made. Exciting experiences were encountered. God brought blessings in plain view and in disguise.

One blessing was being informed that I had been nominated and accepted as a second term board member for World Christian Endeavor. The challenge was sitting in the closing worship session and finding out the new board was being announced on stage at the session’s end. I started looking around the room. One by one I spied other board members. Virtually every person was wearing a jacket and tie. I had “Missed the Memo!” I didn’t know this was happening. I looked down with dismay at my polo shirt, khaki shorts and tennis shoes. I could have dressed up, but I chose to be prepared for our three-hour bus ride and return trip to Seoul.

I was embarrassed because I “Missed the Memo.” It made for some great laughs with friends in person and virtually through Facebook. The experience reminds me about how important it is to be prepared. I’m not talking about carrying a utility knife in my pocket or duct tape, tools, and jumper cables in my car trunk (though I regularly do these things). I’m describing the importance of the memo all people receive through the Holy Spirit’s yearning to follow Him. Those who respond to Jesus Christ through this yearning will have eternal life that begins today. Matthew 25:1-13 describes ten women who needed to get oil for their lamps. Five traveled to take care of this important task before the bridegroom would arrive. The other five decided to put off their responsibility until later. The latter five hadn’t received the memo describing how the bridegroom frowned upon people not being prepared. The five women with oil in their lamps entered into the banquet, where the others arrived too late and were left outside.

In our day-to-day life, “Missing the Memo” brings embarrassment to ourselves and often to those close to us. “Missing the Memo” spiritually leaves a person unprepared to accept eternal life. It is a joy to work with Christian Endeavor as we and many other Christian ministries share the “Memo” so that people can embrace the invitation Jesus has given to be with Him forever.