Tag Archives: God

To Win in Young Adult Ministry You Have to Be Willing To Play “Small Ball”

Everyone loves a home run. The crack of the bat, the leisurely jog around the bases, the high fives, the curtain call–it’s why people go to the ballpark. It’s energizing–it’s electric–it’s intoxicating. In ministry it’s no different, we love to swing for the fences, we love the feeling of being in a packed auditorium, with perfect music, perfect lighting, perfect preaching, and a tangible, quantifiable altar response. We feel good when we hit a “home run”. I’m convinced in too many of our ministries–we’ve come to rely on “the long ball” when we should be concerned with how well we play “small ball”.

There are several reasons for this, but the one I want to address here is that it is directly connected to our ability as a Christian generation to effectively reach, disciple and “do church” with young adults.

“Small ball” refers to the style of baseball that relies on base hits, stolen bases, sacrifice bunts, and working the count–instead of swinging for the fences on every pitch. It’s slower, less flashy, more gritty, it requires patience, and delayed gratification–but it works. It scores runs. It wins games. It wins championships.

I want to point out a few observations that I have noticed in ministering and building relationships with young adults that can help us understand and have long term success in the area of young adult ministry:

1) Young adults both inside and outside the church are highly friendship oriented–so much so that for most young adults friends play an even more important and influential role in their lives than family or pastors.

2) Young adults want to be led, but they don’t want to be told what to do. They want to know the truth but don’t want someone to else to be their source of understanding that truth. They want to discover and develop their relationship with God in small, loosely structured peer groups.

3) Young Adults are notoriously spontaneous, they have bible studies at Huddle House at 2 in the morning. They break out in a prayer meeting after worship practice on a Thursday afternoon, but they blend in and disappear on Sunday morning or don’t even show up to service.

The role of the pastor that wants to successfully reach young adults must expand beyond simply preaching and teaching; to intentionally, but not too obviously, creating Jesus centered, social situations, where discovering the Scripture happens in small groups.

This highly friendship oriented, highly spontaneous, seemingly disorganized feel, makes for a style of ministry that scares many pastors to death. It feels ambiguous, fuzzy, uncommitted, unstructured, and worst of all, un-measurable.

It’s not the long ball. It’s small ball.

It’s messy, but it wins.

Pastor Dalton

Pastor Dalton

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One of the Most Life Changing Messages I Have Heard in a Long Time

One of my favorite all time messages by my favorite speaker Pastor Judah Smith.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwX_EpNR4CA&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Pastor Dalton

Pastor Dalton

Strong Love

I John 4:18-19There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.

In this article–I want to look at the biblical idea that as humans–Fear is at the root of many our sexual struggles & sins; but that Jesus is the answer to any and every one of our sexual struggles and that the primary weapon he uses to defeat sin and specifically sexual sin–is LOVE. But God’s love isn’t just any love…it’s perfect love. Unconditional love. Love that covers a multitude of sins.

Maybe your asking: “What does fear have to do with sexual struggles?”

First–I want to look at some of the things that FEAR can cause in us:

1) Fear brings confusion
—when we’re afraid—we get confused—and disoriented our senses get messed up—we can’t see clearly—we can’t hear clearly—we can’t think clearly. That’s why in a scary—dangerous situation—you hear people say—”It all happened so fast”

Which brings us to the next thing:

2) Fear causes us to make impulsive decisions—when we’re afraid and confused—we act based on our instincts–we act on human nature—we don’t act on wisdom— we act on emotions—

Unfortunately– the bible teaches us our nature inclinations are sinful—and selfish—and so often when we act in fear we—act on emotions and when we act emotionally—and selfishly and sinfully.

And so we find ourselves in a messed up place—having made messed up choices—and needing help. But the enemy’s smart—he knows that not only does fear bring confusion—and not only does he know we make crazy decisions when we’re afraid–he knows that….

3) Fear causes us not to trust—so often when we’ve made a crazy decision out of fear—it’s our tendency to cling to it and hold on to it—and we isolate ourselves out of shame.

Deep down–we know it’s not the right choice—but bc we’re afraid of having to admit we sinned and having to admit we’re struggling—we shut people out—the ones we’re supposed to be able to trust.

So now not only are we afraid—and confused—and caught in sin—we’re alone—and isolated from the people God has called to cover us and protect us and guide us through life. So often we cling to sinful situations—paralyzed—unable to let go and trust the people that God’s given us to help us—and lead us–and correct us.

This is scary–because the reality is—it reveals why the enemy has used the attack of fear—in the area of your sexuality.

Maybe it sounds something like this:

1) He’s told you there’s something wrong with you if you’re not in a physical relationship
2) He’s told you that your identity—your popularity is dependent on being in a relationship
3) He’s told you that it’s not OK to be alone—that you need someone
4) He’s told you to make decisions based on your emotions—based on your instincts
5) He’s told you—you can’t trust your parents—you can’t trust your pastors—you can’t trust God
BC—they’re all going to judge you and crush you and reject you and let you fall
6) He’s told you that God’s boundaries on SEX are to rob you of fulfillment and love and pleasure
7) Some of you are holding onto sin and struggles and addictions—but the enemy has told you can’t let go—BC you can’t trust people and you can’t trust GOD

He’s planted these seeds of fear in you in the area of sexuality in your generation—and as a result—there has never been a more sexually confused generation in America.

Because of the fear—and the confusion associated with sexual struggles–there has never been a more sexually impulsive generation in America.

So many walk in confusion when it comes to their sexual identity—it’s become about pleasure instead of purity. This is tragic, because God designed purity to bring pleasure.

Some of you walk in confusion when it comes to your sexual orientation—the enemy has knocked you off target and tempted you with attraction to someone of the same sex.

There has never been a generation—more untrusting of their parents—more untrusting of their spiritual leaders. The enemies attack of FEAR on our generation’s sexuality is working—bc so many in your generation are confused and impulsive and untrusting

And the REALITY is that many are clinging to struggles hanging on the side of a mountain-afraid of falling–but unwilling to let go of struggles–because they’s afraid to let go and trust people–afraid to trust God.

So many of you are confused and clinging to hurts and mistakes and secrets and broken hearts because of sexual struggles. Lust—Promiscuity—Same Sex Attraction—Pornography

The only thing that can break the bondage of fear and confusion and temptation and struggle is the love of a FATHER—the love of Jesus–the power of the Cross. There is no stronger, more complete, more clear depiction of love than the Cross.

Remember the words of I John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

Love is the weapon that Jesus uses to defeat sexual struggles in our lives.

The Father is reaching out to you—and saying give me your struggles—give me your fear—give me your insecurities—give me your confusion—YOU CAN TRUST ME.

Pastor Dalton

Pastor Dalton

Do I As A Christian Have Answers For People Dealing With Homosexuality?

I don’t like to apply the word homosexual to people.

Because I feel like it assumes that for some people at least, homosexuality is inherent, that it’s something that must be accepted about people. It gives people an out–an alternate identity–where there really isn’t one—it allows someone to label themselves and say—I’m a homosexual or I’m gay, and that’s just the way it is—I can’t be changed—God must have made me this way. When in reality, the bible teaches us that a homosexual lifestyle is a wrong response to a specific temptation. I feel a more proper way to define people who have been labeled or have self identified as homosexual, is instead to say that they are someone who experiences some level of “same-sex attraction”.

So…..What does the bible say about same-sex attraction? 

A lot. Way too much to unpack in one article. But let’s take a look at one piece of scripture:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

I want you to change your thinking for a second—b/c just like not everyone who has been tempted by alcohol becomes an alcoholic—and not everyone who has been tempted by lust becomes an adulterer…

I want to challenge you to consider that not everyone who has been tempted with attraction to the same-sex—has begun to practice homosexuality—or live a homosexual lifestyle. Not everyone who has experienced homosexual orientation takes that as an indicator that they are “wired” to live a homosexual lifestyle.

If this is confusing, let me help you understand—the word orientation applies so well here—because it’s a geometric term describing which direction something is pointed.

We were wired by God to be relational—one of the physical expressions of relationship is sexuality. Everyone was wired to relate and then to mate–with someone. In Genesis—God made humans anatomically and sexually male and female–so that the expression of relationship—the expression of sexuality could produce LIFE.

God created man and woman and pointed them toward one another–He oriented man toward woman and woman toward man—to complement one another.

The female emotions are designed to complement the male emotions. i.e. Spaghetti and Waffles. The male anatomy is designed to complement the female anatomy. To make one flesh. The natural result of becoming one flesh—sexual intimacy—is to produce life .

One of the reasons homosexuality is not ok is b/c it doesn’t pass this biblical test–it doesn’t–it cannot-produce life.

I want you to think of sexual orientation like this: 

Twister

Have you ever played the game Twister?

Part of the game involves a spinning wheel—that you spin to determine what color you are supposed to touch next. The pointer is a “free moving, spinning stick type thing”. The idea is to push the “thing” and it moves around and points you to your next move.

In the garden, God created Adam and pointed him toward goodness/righteousness in every area including sexuality–he pointed man to woman and woman to man for the purpose of relationship. Sin came and infected the heart mind and nature of mankind–allowing us to be pointed in the wrong direction. Then enemy knows this– and he uses his influence to bump us—knock us—point us in a direction that we weren’t designed to go in. One of these directions is same-sex attraction.

What are the things that can bump a person out of our created sexual orientation?  These things don’t always—but it can happen.  Sexual abuse—can mark someone’s sexuality. Exposure to pornography–to sexual images or emotions before you are ready. A lack of healthy connection with a father or mother can cause people to seek the attention of a person that fills that void—that affection they are seeking can be mistaken for sexual attraction.

Sometimes if a guy seems to have a feminine voice or a feminine manner—or a girls seems to have a manly voice or a manly swagger—people will literally begin to label them–they will begin to identify their personality with how the media depicts homosexuals, and they will literally start to believe that those things make them more male or more female.

The enemy, Satan—plays off of these wounds—he plays off of these insecurities—he plays off of these unmet needs.–And He uses them to tempt people. To Manipulate people. To try to deceive people. They’ve been bumped in their orientation—and their temptation switches gears to instead of just being tempted sexually—they’re tempted by the same-sex.

And bc so often we don’t know the word of God–People assume that because they’re attracted to–or tempted sexually by a person of the same gender that that makes them gay. And that is the LIE of the enemy—that causes so many people to decide to live a homosexual lifestyle.

But just like the temptation to alcoholism and drunkenness is not a sin and can be overcome…

Just like the temptation to commit adultery is not a sin and can be overcome—before it becomes sin…

Just like the temptation to steal is not a sin, and can be overcome before it becomes sin…

The temptation itself to desire someone of the same sex is not a sin-& it can be overcome—before it becomes sin.

How do you know? I’m struggling—someone I know is struggling—someone I love—a brother/sister, friend…..I want to take us back to the scripture:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 —Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

We see from the scripture that Jesus delivered some of the Corinthian believers from immorality and idolatry and thievery, and drunkenness and yes, even the practice of homosexuality

He says—-such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Jesus is the answer to greed—Jesus is the answer to idolatry—Jesus is the answer to adultery—Jesus is the answer to sexual immorality—AND YES Jesus is the answer to homosexuality.

If you are dealing with same-sex attraction, know this, Jesus loves you–he has a heart of compassion for you—Allow Jesus to wash, sanctify, and justify you into His image–allow him to reorientate you toward who you really were created to be.

If you know someone dealing with same sex attraction, love them, pray for them, be patient with them, do everything you can to lovingly communicate the holy character of Jesus to them. If they will allow Him he will wash them, He will sanctify them, and He will justify them by the Spirit of God.

Pastor Dalton

Pastor Dalton

I LOVE HOMOSEXUALS

I love homosexuals.

But, the reality is–that if you think you can be a Christian and never come into conflict with the ways and choices of unbelieveing people or what your body desires, you’re mistaken–it’s not possible.

The word of God cannot be unloving, nor is it outdated. Furthermore, it is not vague about same sex relationships (see passage below). We must lovingly live in light of this innerant biblical truth out as followers of Jesus–or we are ignoring the Words of Jesus. himself who said “his word would not pass away”. If we choose to directly and un-repentantly disobey the bible how can we say we know or love God?

God loves homosexuals–enough to die on a cross to give them the power to overcome the temptation and orientation life experiences have thrown their way. In the same way, I believe Jesus offers me and every other heterosexual man and woman the power to overcome the temptation/orientation to misdirect our sexuality in adultery, promiscuity, pornography etc…

I love homosexuals enough to walk through the season of discipleship that overcoming any sexual sin requires.  So should you, as a Christian.

I want to let the Word speak for itself:

Romans 1:18-32 (ESV)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Pastor Dalton

Pastor Dalton

The Pentecostal Identity Crisis Pt 1

For a while at least my blog is going to be about what it means to me to be Pentecostal, as a Christian, as a husband and father and as a minister–sometimes I will attempt to unpack the scripture–other times I will simply speak from my heart. Today is the later,

I’m a Christian. I’m Pentecostal. Passionately Pentecostal. I believe the Biblical gifts of the Spirit are available for the strengthening of the Church of today. I believe in Spirit anointed prayer, Spirit anointed preaching and Spirit anointed evangelism.  I believe in the Pentecostal distinctive of speaking in tongues. I believe that Pentecost is specifically designed by God to be the fuel for the global missions movement. I believe God the Holy Spirit wants to interact with and sometimes interrupt our corporate worship services in a tangible, demonstrative, supernatural way.

I understand that not every Christian interprets the New Testament the same way as I do. I get that, and I love the body of Christ way too much to take a “my way or the highway” approach in this matter. This post is not an attempt to “convert” non-Pentecostal Christians to some “higher” or “better” brand of Christianity, it’s to address those within my own tradition, and challenge them to doctrinal fidelity and practical, biblical expressions of our beliefs and convictions in our small groups and corporate worship events.  My heart is to challenge Pentecostals to be Pentecostal.

How?

1) Regularly teach the scripture concerning the person and work of the Holy Spirit. 2) Pray for authentic, biblical Pentecostal expressions in your worship services. 3) Be ready to actively pastor and intentionally lead people toward scriptural responses to the leading of the Holy Spirit (both to correct and edify if necessary). 4) Cultivate an atmosphere of waiting on, listening to, and engaging God the Holy Spirit–in other words, give Him an opportunity to move.

Lastly

5) Keep the attention on Jesus–authentic Pentecostal expression will always glorify the Son of God–it will not push aside the proclamation of the Gospel–it will, and it must, lay the ground work for the preaching of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Let God the Holy Spirit help you do ministry. Be Creative. Be Relevant. Be Passionate. Be Pentecostal.

Pastor Dalton

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