Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff

I have wanted to get this book for months and several times was a click away from purchasing the book but I hesitated and put it off. So instead of buying it I met Jon Acuff at the Denver Airport and he signed it and gave it to me (along with Quitter). I have followed his blog continuously and have enjoyed his sense of satire, story, sarcasm, wit and ability to make sense of the complicated Christian milieu. The book is filled with mini-stories about Christian actions, words and idiosyncrasies that are hilarious. With every story there are truths and the truths will leave you both laughing and crying. From “Booty-God-Booty” to “Secret Christian Bands” the book is filled with stories that speak to you. You must have a sense of humor to read this book otherwise you will come away thinking Jon is bashing Christians. He’s not. He is telling our story.

Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden

This book came to me from my brother-in-law Andy Walker as a book to read about discipleship. I was skeptical at first because it read almost too easy and too fast. I wanted a complicated, theological, nay academic treatise on the subject but what I got was a practical, simple and well-thought out plan to make disciples. I must admit that I have failed miserably in creating disciples in my ministry. I have created safe atmospheres for transformation but have not intentionally fostered relationships which will in turn create better, more mature disciples. Ogden’s main premise is that a discipler must be with two (maximum of 3) other individuals in a covenant relationship for one year working through material but mainly just creating an environment for growth and accountability (although he cringes with that word.) I recommend this book for a how-to process specifically in the context of a church with churched people. This book is probably not a good evangelistic tool (even he recommends Neil Cole’s resources for that) but is excellent at making Christians become followers of Christ who will lead other followers and on and on.


I read an excellent post by Aaron Helman who writes for his blog “Smarter Youth Ministry.” He wrote a post for the guys at Youth Ministry 360 entitled, “4 Traits of a Healthy Volunteer Team” which is worth your read. The blog post lead me to reflect on how I have recruited volunteers and I must be honest, this is one of my flaws in ministry. I am not good at this at all which is why I enjoyed Aaron’s post so much. I think every youth ministry needs to have a healthy balance and one way to do this is to have one heck of a team that is gun-ho at ministry to teenagers and discipling them. Having said that, I have learned how to recruit volunteers by how badly I have done it in the past. So here is how you DON’T recruit volunteers.

Placing a “Volunteers Needed” column in a bulletin, announcement sheet, article, post or Facebook page

I did this for about four years (still do it sometimes) until I realize that everybody assumes that everybody else is going to volunteer and so that means in the end, nobody volunteers. Or worse, the people who volunteer for the volunteer position are already over-committed in other areas thus stretching them thin and potentially leading them down a path of burnout. If you want volunteers in your ministry then ask them personally. But…

Asking whoever “can” volunteer to volunteer

In the ministry we need to be selective at who we ask to be present with teenagers for safety reasons but also for passion reasons. There is a lot of people who have the ability to volunteer but the people you want on your team are those who are passionate about the Lord and teenagers.

Making assumptions about who should volunteer

We are wrong to assume that there is a certain type of person who should volunteer in our ministries. Some of the most successful volunteers I have had participate in the ministry are folks who are in their 60s or 70s. The kids love them because it is evident to them that they love the kids and at the end of the day teenagers know this. Nerds, old people, jocks, goofballs, rich people or poor people…anyone can volunteer and we should not make assumptions.

Recruiting the right people and giving them the wrong job.

I guess that still means the wrong people but you understand what I mean. I have had people who were willing to volunteer and were passionate about the Lord but then I assigned them something they were not gifted at and it went over about as well as a bull in a china shop. I did not recruit wisely and tactifully. I just said “here you go.” Which leads me to the next bonehead move of mine.

Recruiting but not training.

Odds are if you have had a full-time job you probably have had some training and some retraining. I have stunk in this endeavor. I think volunteer means “chaperoning” and boy have I missed it on this. Volunteers need just as much training as we do. They need to understand teenagers, learn how to teach them, learn how to listen, learn, learn, and learn. It takes training and even the most gifted volunteer still needs to learn.

Finally, laying the guilt trip to get volunteers.

Have you ever done this? You make an announcement or send that snarky e-mail claiming that the world depends on volunteers and our teenagers are the next generation and a failure to lead them is an admittance of defeat and acceptance of a dying church. Too far? Maybe you are not that brash but some of your snide remarks to get volunteers is not the best way to recruit. You want people to come with enthusiasm and passion not with reluctance and guilt. Think your relationship with God. Do you think God wants you coming passionately or reluctantly?

What are some other suggestions?

I have had little time to process all of the lessons, classes and discussions.  I thought I would relay some meanderings here that might help participants of NCYM, fellow youth ministers, church members and everyone else. I wish to do this in a sort of “lessons learned” format.

  1. For Youth Ministers, there is much to learn. I made the comment to a vendor at the conference that I have been in youth ministry for 8 1/2 years and feel like I still need to learn every day. Every… single… day.
  2. Never underestimate the healing of intense worship. Just about every speaker who was not COC commented on how beautiful the acapella singing was in the worship. Each night I felt myself drawn to the father through worship with a few hundred other folks who were bowing at the throne.
  3. We need the church. I heard this a few times in lessons and discussions. As broken and imperfect as the church is we need her. Why? She is the bride of Christ and the kingdom of God runs with, through and from her.
  4. Those in ministry need to be light before they can be leaders. Too often we are put to the front lines of leadership without really understanding what it means to “walk in the light.” We cannot lead a student to a place we have never been.
  5. The Church of Christ is still a beautiful place for students, families and the world to be participants of the kingdom of God. You say the word “Church of Christ” and people start freaking out and there are even some who are embarrassed by the name. We are not perfect folks (What denomination is?) but we are striving to be biblical, to listen to God, to seek the lost and to make heaven a reality here on earth.
  6. I am not the only fish in the sea. That applies positively and negatively.  Sometimes I think I am the only one going through struggles and conferences like this reassure me that I am not alone. On the flip side, often I think I have the best idea or my youth ministry is somehow better than others and discussions with other people humble me knowing there are far better youth ministries than the one I am serving.
  7. Theology matters. I wonder if people’s perception of a conference is that we go to worship and talk about our problems and then come home somewhat refreshed. Realistically, we spend a lot of time talking about the biblical text and wrestling with it and it’s implications in our ministries. I was refreshed to see how many people cared about Scripture. It was warming.

What would you guys add?


I am writing this from the Denver airport as my time to fly is upon me. I will give a few highlights from Day 3.

Wednesday Morning Mike Cope “Community in Lars and the Real GirlHebrews

  • It’s a movie about church, it begins in church and ends in church.
  • Hebrews
    • Imagining a world where we are not our own.
    • Somebody who watches for you.
    • The real test for community is the worst things you have done who is up there watching you.

Wednesday Morning Keynote Scot McKnight @ScotMcKnight “Did Jesus Found the Church?”

Major Idea: The church is naughty and the kingdom is nice

–       People today love the kingdom but are embarrassed by the church

–       The kingdom has come to mean “good things Christians do in the public sector usually involved in the political process.”

  • It has nothing to do with the church…people say
  • Social Justice? Where did we get this idea of social justice? There is one idea of justice in Scripture. Justice is connected to righteousness and justification.
  • Peace…compassion…walking from Cape Town to Alexandria raising money for water.

–       Kingdom has been flattened into an ethic: peace, justice.

–       “When we flatten kingdom to an ethic we deny the gospel.”

–       We have a young group of Christians whose kingdom theory has to do with changed political processes and are neglecting the church.

  • But…doing good in a society is a good thing.
  • Being compassionate is a good thing.
  • Working for peace in our world is a good thing.
  • But we do this because we are disciples of Jesus.

–       Good work versus Kingdom work

  • Did Ghandi do kingdom work?

–       The most profound act of kingdom work is when we celebrate Eucharist on Sunday morning.

–       “You cannot be committed to kingdom unless you are committed to the church and your commitment to the church is the sum total of your commitment to the kingdom.”

–       It is far too easy giving money to Rwanda and not to local people in the church.

–       Matthew 16:13-20

  • Their options to the question were not good enough.
  • Jesus was more than a prophet.  Prophetic Christianity is not enough.
  • The answer is that Jesus is messiah.
  • 1 Samuel 8—“They want a king because they want to be like other nations.”
    • Saul collapse
    • David…
    • Eventually they realize that Jesus is the king.
  • Peter labels Jesus with the right title. When the Messiah was said all the ideas came to completion: Temple, Torah, Land, Citizens, Command, Covenant.

–       When Jesus is the Messiah kingdom will always mean more than social justice.

–       Peter had no idea what Messiah really meant.

  • Messiah –> Kingdom –> Cross –> Resurrection –> Kingdom
  • Kingdom and social justice does not mix well.

–       Jesus came to establish a whole new social order. The ekklesia….the church.

–       There is an inextricable connection between kingdom and church.

–       Church is the only place kingdom work can occur because in the church is the only place where Jesus is king.

–       Kingdom never refers to social action in Scripture.

  • We have become intoxicated with social power and justice.

–       The kingdom is more than an ethic because Jesus is more than a prophet.

–       Kingdom work is about telling people about King Jesus.  Summoning people in the church as the place where God’s redemptive work is now alive.

Wednesday Afternoon Jon Acuff @JonAcuff “Our Relationship With the Gap”

Our job is hard because…

1)   We never feel it is over…

2)   There’s no manual for most of the things you do

3)   The success rate is really low for youth ministers

4)   You run into a period of life most people run from

  1. 1 out of every 4 girl will be raped by the time they graduate

5)   We don’t get to see the end of the song.

Three things of the challenges


–       It’s so easy to compare.

–       Never compare your beginning to somebody else’s middle.

–       Always play to the size of your heart not to the size of your audience.

–       If you tie what you do to the success/failure of it you will disappoint.

–       Measure your obedience not your results

–       God will not be handcuffed by my failures or unleashed by my successes.

2)   FEAR

–       It only bothers you when you do things that matter.

–       Voices?

  • You are not a youth minister…
  • You are woman.

–       The best way to fight those is to share those. Fears fears community.

–       The higher you climb in leadership the harder it is for you to be honest.

–       “Enough” is a slippery slope

–       If you ask “fear” when you will have enough experience it will be later.

–       Fear always says, “This is forever.”

–       What to do with voices

  • Write down the voice…
  • Answer it with truth
  • Share them


–       We are not good with criticism and compliments

  • Critic’s Math – 1 Insult + 1000 Compliments = 1 Insult
  • We have the ability to lose heart with insults.
  • Are you giving power to the very people you don’t need to give it to.

Those were the extent of my notes. I did not attend an afternoon class because I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Scot McKnight and Rusty Pettus for an hour and talk theology. Scot was gracious enough to extend some time just to talk and share some coffee. He even bought my coffee which he did not have to do. Before I close this blog I want to share something I did on my way back from Denver. I visited the Century 16 Theater in Aurora where 12 people were killed by James Holmes. Tragedy. Just like praying at Columbine I wanted to reflect and pray at the theater. To the left is a picture I took while driving to the theater.

Tomorrow I hope to reflect on the week with some implications.

Great day I experienced with classes, super-sessions and keynote messages from some of the finest people in Christianity. I typed 10 pages of notes yesterday so I cannot include everything here but I want to give you some highlights that stood out to me.

Tuesday Morning, Mike Cope “Spiritual Intubation: How Community Keeps Us Alive” The Wizard of Oz: Revelation’s View of Community

  • “No church ever existed in a pure state. The church is made up of sinners. The fleas come with the dogs.” (Eugene Peterson)
  • Four characters who are known by their deficiencies. Much like Christians today.
  • Showing of who Oz really is. “The great Oz has spoken, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
  • Pergamum
    • It’s a great distance from Colorado Springs to Pergamum.
    • In Pergamum it was very, very different.
    • Everywhere people went they told two stories: the power of Rome and Greek gods and goddesses. Everywhere they went they are told that they are caught up in and how could they not believe it. It “has to be true.”  Every market, athletic event, silver item told them about temple worship.
    • Where is the Pergamum church of Christ?
      • A tiny…insignificant few.
      • Imagine holding on to the story of Jesus while walking among the temples and other places where the minority is huge.
      • Have you been the minority?
      • Power, honor, identity was wrapped up into gods and Rome not Christ.
    • Persecuted Christians get it
    • “Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw he saw no creatures so wild as one of his own commentators.” G. K. Chesteron
  • Deep Community is anchored in Jesus
  • Deep community has to be eschatological in nature.
  • Deep community is at its best when it is part of a mission…a larger story.

Tuesday Morning Keynote Kurt Johnston @kurtjohnston “Deep, Redefined”

  • Have you ever stopped and thought about all the things in youth ministry that you don’t do very well? We are great at trying to control the perceptions of other people. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great at creating perception of us.
  • Four truths I have learned that have 1) pointed out my shallowness and 2) led him into a deeper experience in faith.
    • Life is a squiggle
    • I need a travel partner
    • Busyness will keep you in the shallow end.
    • When you begin to have a long view of youth ministry

Tuesday Super Session Frank Viola @FrankViola “The Missing Ingredient”

Observations about ministry to young people:

  • Catch30 Crisis – Human beings go through developmental stages as they get old. When they are 30 they reassess every decision they made in their 20s and they either abandon what hey believed or abandon them. You don’t know where someone is spiritually until they are thirty. You could not serve in the house of God until you were 30. Jesus did not begin his ministry until he was 30. Young people need to be prepared for this.
  • There is a difference between youthful enthusiasm and spirituality. Most of the big Christian movements are built on youthful enthusiasm. The problem is that many operates on youthful enthusiasm and the well runs dry
  • You can’t pass on to those whom you minister to what you have not experienced yourself.
  • I have to prepare them for the forgotten beatitude. Blessed is he who is not offended by me.

Other Notes from class…

  • If you cut the bible in any place it will bleed Jesus Christ.
  • Moses and Christ
  • Creation and Christ
  • Isaac and Christ
  • Jacob and Christ
  • Conclusion  – #1 – Find Christ in the bible. #2 – Do business with the Lord

Tuesday Afternoon Class 1 Josh Graves @JoshGraves “The Bible Jesus Read: Genesis 1-2”

2 Timothy 3:14-17; John 5

  • We need a more mystical understanding of Scripture. But also how it calls us to new spaces.
  • “All Scripture” does not exist yet and he has in mind Torah.
  • Inspired…he does not infallible, inerrant. They never show up in the bible. Sometimes the most important work we do is not learning new things but relearning old things.
  • 2 Timothy is not about proving Scripture over science but it is about inviting people into God’s world in order to see the world differently and “to do something about it.”
  • These stories carry the freight in any given culture.

Genesis 1

  • God can’t help but to create. He is in control. The things God creates would not be believable if we have not seen them.
  • Everything else that has creativity or imagination that somehow it is all linked back to the God who started.
  • One of the ways Genesis invites us to go deeper and that we live in a good creation. Does not deny the dark side of life but he made everything and called it good.
  • Most people who tell the story of God begin with Genesis 3 and not Genesis 1.
  • We have to introduce paradox to our students. Life is full of joy and pain. Paradox is one of the greatest contribution to the Western world.

Tuesday Afternoon Class 2 Sally Gary @centerpeaceinc “Reaching out to Teens Who Identify as Gay and Lesbians”

Many who struggle with same sex attraction but still love the Lord.  Struggles do not divide us.

Starved for Intimacy. Facebook and its struggles for intimacy. Question is: How can we meet this need? This desire for community. There is a great need for this connection.

What teens learn from the world: Glee, Modern Family.

What teens learn from the church: Nasty messages about homosexuals from the church

What they need is looking for a safe place.

How to be a safe place?

Deal with our own fears.

  • Change our thinking
  • Change our language
  • Listen
  • Be consistent
  • Model the Love and Acceptance of Christ

Tuesday Night Keynote Frank Viola @FrankViola “God so loved the world vs. Love not the world.”

The world in the New Testament is used in two ways…

  1. Speaks of the material universe. Jesus of Nazareth is this world’s true Lord.
  2. A system or network or order of things designed to draw us away from God.

Historically Christians have taken two postures: 1) Retreated from the world’s system (Isolationism) 2) Enmeshed by the world and married to it.

The most miserable person is a Christian who is living in a way where deep inside them they are told to give something up and they can’t. When we are in community with other Christians the Holy Spirit is clearest.

The Holy Spirit will reveal to you what is of the world.

2 Kind of legalists: 1) Salvation by works 2) I am going to take what the Holy Spirit has shown me personally and make it a law to you.

“The gospel spreads best not through force but through fascination” (Shane Claiborne)

Dinner in Colorado Springs: Uchenna Ethiopian Restaurant

This was ranked #2 in Colorado Springs by TripAdvisor and it was awesome. I had Yebeg Alecha which was tender pieces of lamb marinated with butter then sautèed with ginger, garlic, and 12 spices. There were no forks but you had this roll that you put the meat and the sauce in. It was excellent. The owner’s name is Maya and they cooked everything to order so it took a while but the food was worth it. They have mostly organic food and a substantial vegetarian menu. I have never tried authentic Ethiopian cuisine but this was a must! Went a left the owner looked at me and said, “Go in peace.” I love her already.



Yesterday the sessions started with an per-registration meeting with Patrick Mead that I missed (boo) but I decided to go to Agia Sophia’s coffee shop (see yesterday’s post). After that I did a little detour to visit a couple of places…

Manitou Springs

This is home of Pike’s Peak Cog Railway which was, much to my dismay, closed. I wanted to go up to the top but it is closed for the winter so I looked around at all of the neat shops and happenings. It is a quaint little town that is like Gatlinburg minus the rednecks and fudge.

Garden of the Gods

IMG_3551This was a great find. I hiked a little and was able to be alone and still for a small period of time. As I was walking up and down the trails my mind was drawn to the students in our ministry and how they would love this place. There are trails, rocks to climb and beautiful scenery and for that pesky youth group kid their are even mountain lions roaming about. JUST KIDDING!

U.S.A. Olympic Training Facility

IMG_3554This was free as well. I just showed up and was able to get onto a tour quickly. The guide showed us where Olympic athletes train for shooting, basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, wrestling, swimming and showed us the weight room. In the weight room we saw the University of California’s swim team and training with them was Nathan Adrian who won gold at London in the 100m Freestyle. Pretty cool.

Dinner Jack Quinn’s Pub

IMG_3572I loved this place for the Irish atmosphere and authentic Irish food. They are renown for their fish and chips and their Irish Boxtys (potato pancake with fillings) but I was in the mood for something else: Corned Beef and Cabbage. That’s right! Since my wife did not come with me I get to eat all the cabbage I want. I highly recommend this place that is located in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs.

Monday Night Keynote – David Skidmore @sycamoreskid – “A Few Good Aquamen”

Great lesson as he taught in metaphor which is a lot like what Jesus did with his disciples. He used aquaman as a template for youth ministers. Below are my (sporadic) notes and hope you enjoy them. I am off now to hear Mike Cope’s early session.

–       Job Description is crazy for youth ministers.

–       Prayed for Jason and Elyse. 2 months in ministry

–       This is kind of like that….

–       Tokyo Water Park

–       Bulls Eye Picture

–       Gas Gauge

–       Help is 172 km ahead

  • “Don’t let NCYM be a destination.”
  • “Let the overflow fill someone else up.”

–       Luke 8:29—“Driven by the demon into solitary places.”

  • How you get to solitary places.
  • Renew yourself.

–       Whale—frequency no other whale can recognize.

  • Most whales are making sounds higher but it is low.
  • It is never identified with other whales.
  • Your teens are on a frequency that nobody can understand and some of you youth ministers are on a frequency nobody understands. Parents are on different frequencies then we are.

–       2 Peter 1:8

  • Ineffective or unfruitful.
  • Do we bear fruit?

–       Super Friends

  • How lame was aquaman?
  • Every comic book…
    • A hero…
    • A problem
    • A question

–       Does he/she have what it takes to endure this?

–       Micah 6:8

–       It’s not just about depth but about distance. 20,000 leagues is not about how deep it was but how far they traveled.

–       Our churches will let us stay on the surfaces. If God (Satan?) cannot make you bad he will make you busy.

–       We are called to be a sycamore tree and not a savior.

–       1 Samuel 13

  • Running….
  • Hiding…
  • Blacksmiths…

–       “It is not within our power to place the divine teachings of God directly into the heart of another. We can only lay them on the surface of the heart, so that when the heart breaks, they are the first to fall in.” (Jewish Saying)

  • We are the only blacksmiths people have…

See the slideshow below of images from yesterday

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Technically the conference starts today but I flew in early yesterday rented a car and had a day for myself. That sounds pretty selfish but with a wife and four kids, a student ministry of 30 kids, a part-time job and other things on my plate I rarely take a day just for me…. so I did. Solomon in Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 wrote, “What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.” I don’t think my work is meaningless (or vapor as the Hebrew indicates) but I do think we get to a point that if we do not take a day and do nothing then toil can be imminent if not definite. So here is what I did…but don’t judge me on the first thing. (See all pictures below…)

Coors Brewery Tour (Golden, Colorado)

IMG_3525I know I am probably going to get slammed for this but if it helps you I did not drink anything but water. Having said that it was a free tour to see how beer was made. It was a fascinating tour and I learned a lot about something I was ignorant in and it was helpful to me. As I was on the tour though I could not help but to think of all the money and time spent on a drink that will lead a lot of people to do some really dumb things. So I prayed a lot on the tour and reflected.

Columbine High School (Littleton, Colorado)

IMG_3530I vividly remember when the shootings occurred in 1999 when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold showed up to school and killed 13 people and then ended their own lives. I pulled up to the high-school and noticed that it was a picturesque setting. It was in the middle of middle to upper-class suburban homes with a beautiful mountain setting in the back. It just did not seem that such a shooting should have occurred here but those are assumptions on my part. I felt broken and humbled at the violence that occurred here. All I could do was pray for their families. The parents of Klebold, Harris and all of the other victims as they still search for answers they may never get.

Food and what I am doing right now…

I love researching places to eat and often frequent the app Urbanspoon to see local dives and hot spots. I found a neat place in Colorado Springs called Bird Dog BBQ which was excellent. I had the brisket which was tender and flavored to perfection. I am on a diet so I coupled that with baked beans some corn and toast. It was amazing. Highly recommend. Right now I am writing this from the Agia Sophia Coffee Shop in Old Colorado City. It is a wonderful setting that serves as a coffee shop, food connoseur and nesting ground for discussions about religion, politics and life. I love places like this where I can work, drink coffee and enjoy a tremendous view of the mountains.

I assure you now the next time I write it will be more about ministry and less about tourist attractions. I plan on wandering the city a little bit and discovering neat things to do/see. Our conference starts later. Pray for me. Enjoy the pictures…


You can read the first post in this series by clicking here.

Satan is doing his best to make sure 2013 is a year you wish would never have occurred. He is using his schemes to concoct the deadliest, most sinful potion imaginable with one purpose alone: to thwart the plans of God for you. Here are the remaining things Satan will do to destroy 2013 for you.

4. He will confuse you with success

What? You heard me right. Success. The “American Dream”, the do-it-yourself mentality, the “if it’s to be it’s up to me” kind of attitude will haunt you this year. Success is not bad but the confusing point of success comes when we think all of it came at the hands of our own initiative. Then we think we are invincible and pretty soon there is no need for God. In a nutshell we become deists (And all of this talk about returning to our forefathers who were essentially a bunch of deists) .

3. He will specifically cater his onslaught to something you struggle with that nobody even knows about

The Hebrew author calls it the “sin that clings so closely” (12:1). I don’t have to define that for you do I? Odds are, you know exactly what I am talking about. That pesky little critter crawling in your heart has done some serious damage and besides you, two people know about this: God and Satan. On one hand God is trying to offer you freedom from that depravity but on the other hand Satan is trying to enslave you holding you tight to that sin. 2013 will bring a lot of different things but one thing is for sure: your sins will find you out one way or another.

2. He will try to divide your relationships

Unity is something that will be a challenge for every organized group. Satan finds some of his best work on the front lines of churches who are fighting for the kingdom of God. Satan tries to divide marriages by creating atmospheres of disloyalty and distrust spreading lies and causing couples to end what used to be a strong relationship.

1. He will do his best to freeze your dreams

The other day I was watching my girls talk on this phone (an old iPod of mine that broke) and they were carrying on two different conversations with people who did not even exist. I chided, “What in the world are you girls doing?” They responded back, “We are imagining dad, leave us alone.” I smiled. Grown-ups quit dreaming and I think they do this because fear grips them into a state of paralysis and what could be becomes, at least to them, what will never be. Satan freezes dreams.

So there you have it. The good thing is that the power of Satan has already been defeated at the cross. Satan has no control over those whom God has chosen in Christ and if we place our allegiance to the lordship of Jesus then what can Satan do to us? Make 2013 the year that you finally become a servant to the master and do not let Satan destroy you.

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It’s inevitable. As long as mankind is on this earth Satan is doing his best to thwart the plans, goals and desires of those in the kingdom of God. He loves doing that type of thing. Remember when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness and Jesus defeated his temptations? Luke records something that we miss from Matthew’s account:

And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:13)

An opportune time? Eugene Peterson in The Message words it this way, “The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.” He did not give up on Jesus as Deity in Flesh was presumably tempted up to his death. Yet we presume to believe that all of our resolutions, goals, vision and plans for 2013 will somehow be accomplished by our effort with no forthcoming barriers standing in our way.

It doesn’t happen that way. Every vision/goal/plan must account for the realities of stumbling blocks and challenges that inevitably come thrashing at our way. Satan has a way of doing that. Here are 10 things I believe Satan will do in an attempt to destroy you, your church, your organization, your initiative, your marriage and anything else you are associated with.

10. He will distract you.

Distractions are those little pieces of things that look good at first (business ventures, relationships, initiatives) but all they do is distract you from your vision. It is hard for you to accomplish anything without some sort of distraction coming your way. The key, I think, is the ability to discern what is a justifiable distraction versus a satanic distraction. Stay focused.

9. He will make you afraid.

Fear is something I have a lot of and it is difficult to manage. The “what if’s” pile up and cause me to become unfocused, timid and distrustful. This is one of Satan’s greatest tools. He promotes fear in you that will distract you (#1) and cause you to do what everyone is doing: which is nothing.

8. He will lie to you

He may even cause people to lie about you but one thing is for sure…he is full of lies. The trick is to not buy the lie that Satan is selling you. You are too this or not enough that or you need this or you need that. He will lie to you and bait you with something that is so tantalizing that you will not have the will power to resist. When you do bite on the bait it is only when you get burned do you realize that you bought the lie.

7. He will attack your finances.

Odds are, he has already done this. Credit cards, keeping up with the Jones’, and keeping your expenses greater than your income is a recipe for disaster. Of course, this is a heart issue as Satan does not control your bank account (or does he?) but the truth is that most couples, churches and organizations fight over money and in a consumerist, money-driven, American-dream smoking world that we live in this is Satan’s easiest weapon.

6. He will make you lazy.

Technology does a lot for our culture but one thing is for sure, it has made us lazy. Phil Robertson (from Duck Dynasty) has a lot of wisdom saying he is “low-tech in a high-tech society.” It’s not just technology though that has done this. It is complacency and a hunger and thirst for anything and everything to quench our selfish desires. Instead of working, thinking, meditating we have become reactive, defensive and ultimately lazy.

5. He will take something from you.

I don’t want to get in a theological debate about this but in Job it seems to me that in Job 1 God allows Satan to take things from Job. His wealth, his possessions, his family and ultimately his health. Something will be taken from you this year. You might not be able to say it is from Satan but nonetheless Satan will have his hand in it in some capacity. When what we hold treasure to on this earth is taken from us that is an immediate challenge to see if we serve God or gods. We may lose a loved one, we may lose our jobs, we may lose the house, we may lose a friend, we may lose safety and security. But what does it profit a man if he gains the whole word yet loses his own soul?

Stay tuned tomorrow for the final 4…

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2012 was my best blogging  year yet. I wanted to share my numbers with you and my top 5 posts. Thanks for making 2012 my best year.

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