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Tag Archives | Holy Spirit

Jesus > the Holy Spirit

Recently, one of my new adult leaders asked me, “Why don’t we talk about the Holy Spirit more with our high school students? It seems like we’re very focused on Jesus.”

Truthfully, this is a pretty fair assessment of my high school ministry: It is very Jesus-focused. Here’s why:

I spent the last year researching what students in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (the denomination in which I currently serve) believe about Jesus. What I learned from this national study was that 56 percent of students surveyed (all of whom were active in local congregations) either did not believe or did not know Jesus was God. Additionally, 58 percent either believed it was possible to be a Christian without believing in Jesus or didn’t know if Jesus was crucial to the Christian faith. This means that many of today’s church kids don’t know or understand why Jesus matters – to their faith or their lives.

According to Kenda Creasy Dean in Almost Christian, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD), an “alternative religious vision of divinely underwritten personal happiness and interpersonal niceness,” is quickly replacing our traditional, historical religious traditions. While the guiding beliefs of MTD involve God, Jesus is absent. As a result, Dean suggests “Christian spirituality requires a particular kind of conversation that reinforces the church’s unique understanding of who God is in Jesus Christ. To state it bluntly: Conversational Christianity requires Jesus-talk, not just God-talk.”

Since they’re still transitioning from concrete to abstract thinking, from a developmental standpoint, young teens need to hear and talk about the parts of their faith that are most concrete. What’s more concrete than Jesus?

While the Holy Spirit is an important part of the Trinity on whom we rely for guidance, wisdom, and prayer, there is something dangerous about overemphasizing the Holy Spirit to teens at the expense of Jesus. Overemphasizing the Holy Spirit often results in emotionally volatile teens having intense experiences with God, during which they “feel” his presence (ie, the Holy Spirit). This spiritual high is all fine and good until eventually, life happens and those warm, fuzzy God feelings disappear. When those feelings evaporate, so does the faith of teens taught to equate the presence of God with them.

Overemphasizing the Holy Spirit often results in teens who won’t (or can’t) make their own decisions because they’ve been taught instead to follow the guidance and promptings of the Holy Spirit. For teens who are still developing in every way, it’s far too easy to mistake friends, significant others, and even parents for the Holy Spirit. It’s far wiser to teach teens what Jesus did. Knowing what Jesus did gives teens concrete examples to follow in any situation.

Make no mistake. We talk about God and the Holy Spirit in our high school youth ministry, but not nearly to the extent we intentionally talk about Jesus.

According to theologian Carl Braaten, the Christian faith “stands or falls with what it knows about Jesus of Nazareth”. As a result, what I want my students to leave our high school ministry with is nothing more and nothing less than Jesus.

Jen Bradbury has been in youth ministry for 11 years. She’s the youth director at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, IL. Her writing has appeared in YouthWorker Journal, The Christian Century, and Immerse. She blogs at ymjen.com

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A Culture of Honor

The Assemblies of God national youth director, Heath Adamson, talks often about creating a “culture of honor”.  Being a child of the 80’s, the first thing I thought of when I heard that phrase was the Karate Kid movies and everyone’s favorite sensei, Mr. Miyagi.  Japan is certainly an example of a culture where honor is an important value.  But what does a “culture of honor” mean to you and me?

One danger facing young leaders is our tendency to neglect honor and default to flattery. Flattery rears its ugly head when we leverage seemingly kind words and overstated compliments in an attempt to advance our agenda. Flattery is self-serving in purpose and selective in distribution.  On the other hand, honor displays a humble attitude and employs gracious genuine words (or strategic silence). The gift of honor is extended to leadership positions, not just persons in leadership.

As a leader you will always have other leaders to serve and follow.  Often leaders expect the individuals following them to trust them in ways that they themselves are not willing to trust the leaders they have been called to follow. At best, that is inconsistent. Agree or disagree with our leaders, we are called to honor them and not just to their face. It’s very easy to attack and critique leaders, it’s very godly to protect and honor them. I’ve learned that my commitment to honor those over me is not truly put to the test until I disagree with them on a matter I care strongly about.

I am thankful for the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit as He guards our hearts and joins our conversations. I am thankful that Jesus never failed as a leader and that his perfect leadership record belongs to and speaks for every believer!  I’m thankful that the Father knows and judges the motivations of all men, so I don’t have to.

How do you go about creating a culture of honor in your ministry settings?

David Hertweck serves the Assemblies of God in New York as the state youth director. He has been involved in local church youth ministry since 1999. Check out his resources on DYM right here.

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Stop, Drop and Roll Conversations


So I do not know about you, but there are sometimes some pretty rough situations that student’s in our ministries are going through. There are tough conversations being had all of the time. God is working on student’s hearts and they are wondering and working through some pretty intense things and they want us to talk to them about it. That is awesome!

But it can be scary. What if I don’t know what to say? Or do? Or know of what the Bible says about it? How do you put out this fire? Hopefully this can help a bit:

 Stop - When a student is going through something it is in our nature to want to fix it immediately. It’s the caring, nurturing side of us I think. Just stop, think and pray. Sometimes it is okay to pray with them and tell them, “Hey, I’m going to look this up and get back to you.” Or, “I’m not really sure, I would love to keep praying about that.” Let’s not give a half answer for the convenience of a “right away feel good” answer. Stop, think, pray and let’s make sure we give them a prayerful, biblical answer to help them in their time of need.

Drop - There are sometimes in ministry where the student is heated and obviously shaken up about a situation in their life and we try to let them talk about it with us but they do not want to. That’s just where we need to drop it and give it time. Right now might not be the best time for them, but from I noticed in the past, when they are ready and you make it obvious to them that you would love to talk with them, they come around and open up to you and then the Holy Spirit will guide you in that conversation.

Roll - You roll with it. They open up to you and words are rolling off their tongue. Go with it. Listen intently. Be a great listener. Don’t be distracted. Give them your full focus. Listen while praying, praying that the Holy Spirit will guide you in the right things to say to counsel the student who is finally having a break through. Avoid saying things like, “I know how you are feeling” unless you actually have been through what they are going through. Just stop, listen and celebrate that student is finally getting something off their chest and taking a step closer to Jesus.

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my tweets from last week!

  • resting in God's grace is the only way we can continually grow closer to him and become more like Jesus #
  • new post >> http://www.abnormalize.net >> getting out of the rut: get rid of guilt #
  • Don't carry guilt for missing quiet times. This will lead to paralysis, which will lead to a numbing and hardening of the heart. #
  • I'm writing quiet time questions… I haven't done this for a long, long time. #funstuff #
  • new post >> http://abnormalize.net/ >> getting out of the rut: reject ritualized religion #
  • Undercover boss was great. #
  • God’s rules are a roadmap for worship, a pathway to life. They are not a set of instructions for winning approval from Christians. #
  • Hurting yourself is a rejection of God’s sovereignty, a denial that everything belongs to him. #
  • new post >> http://abnormalize.net/ >> getting out of spiritual ruts: change things up #
  • I'm at rick's conference! Check out http://www.radicalis.com for live stream. #
  • Fun night at foundations talking about the Holy Spirit's role in teaching us the truth. #

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get rid of guilt (spiritual ruts part 3)

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Philippians 3:12-15

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24


You can’t get out of the rut if you’re holding on to guilt. It’s a weight you can’t carry if you expect to run the race God has set before you. Guilt has a place in our lives: it ought to be a warning, like the check engine light on your dashboard. You see the light and you get the car fixed. Guilt is also like those shock paddles the doctor uses to get a heart beating again. You can’t live with that constant shock going through the system. I’ll say it again: you won’t get out of the rut if guilt is continually coursing through your system.

Don’t carry guilt for missing quiet times. This will lead to paralysis, which will lead to a numbing and hardening of the heart. Convictions ought to move us closer to God, not further away. Every Christian makes mistakes. Conviction is the Holy Spirit’s whisper inviting you back to the Cross to find forgiveness in Christ. When you stumble in your faith, commit to "failing forward" and come to God and seek forgiveness in humility. If you slack off in your current devotional plan (we’ll talk more about this later), don’t try to catch up. THIS IS A DEATH SENTENCE. Simply continue to move forward. Rest in God’s grace, FOR IT IS THE ONLY WAY FOR CONTINUAL GROWTH

From of the forgiveness you receive from God, you need to forgive yourself. You also may need to seek forgiveness from others.

If you want to worship God in the way that he intended, you need to right the wrongs you’ve committed to others. So deeply do I wish this wasn’t necessary for the spiritual life! If you’ve offended another person, you need to make amends to remove the stumbling block that’s keeping you in the rut.

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how I wish I was like Jeremiah

In my devotions, I’m reading through Ecclesiastes and Jeremiah. I stopped to reflect on the following passage:

17 “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. 18 Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:17-19)

what I love about this passage

I love the clear call to be bold and make a difference, following God’s leading to change the world—and to do all of this without fear. It’s obvious that Jeremiah faced obstacles on a scale I can’t imagine. He stood before kings and kingdoms! However, I can identify with the call to be faithful in the moment. I can be ready to be used by God. I can stand up and say the right thing. I can be strong through trusting in God’s strength and refuse to give into fear. This passage reminds me of a few others:

“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2)

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity… (Ephesians 5:15-16)

11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” (Luke 12:11-12)

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. (2 Corinthians 3:12)

how I am challenged by this passage

I’m challenged in a few different areas by this passage. I need to be better at being ready, listening to what God has to say, and trusting him enough to say the right thing. There are times when I’m not listening well enough, and then I’m not ready when the moment comes. There are times I’m not bold enough, I know what to say but I don’t. There are also times when I say something, with boldness and without fear, but it’s more my message than it is God’s message.

I need to be better at listening and speaking without fear, and speaking God’s words and not my own!



, or that I’m not bold enough. There are also times when I am too bold, and speaking a message that’s my own, rather than making sure it’s what God wants me to say.

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on the nature and importance of hope


the nature and importance of HOPE.


Max, Marc, Morgan, Miller, Mac.

I would like to tech you about hope. I have struggled so much over this topic, to find the right words. In my mind, hope is so simple, but when I put it to words, I am simplicity is nowhere to be found. No other subject has done this to me before. Let’s see how I do.


1. Hope is a positive expectation for the future. Tomorrow, I hope to enjoy some ice cream.

2. Hope is supremely powerful because it is connected directly to joy and all forms of action (thinking, speaking, doing.). It’s impossible to have joy without hope; also, it is impossible to act without hope. Every act is done in anticipation of a positive effect. Every joy comes from the waiting for or experience of the object of our hope.

3. The object of our hope is never possessed. When it is possessed, it becomes certain knowledge (which is certain, where as hope is not certain because the object is not yet possessed). This ice cream is good.

4. Everyone hopes, everyone is always hoping, everyone has many hopes, and these hopes often conflict and contradict one another. Understanding yourself, and others, will be achieved when you discern the hope. Most people are unhappy and hurting. This is because they hope in the wrong things. When you tell a person about their false hope, rarely will you change them, they must experience the emptiness. This is why I think it best to, most of the time, to give a selfish person exactly what they want.

5. Although hope is always present and working, man do not think much about their hopes. It is an evil thing to understand a person’s hopes and then treat them harshly. A person’s hope is the thing they treasure most, and the knowing of a hope, combined with the knowing of how to destroy that hope is a despicable act. I have done this too often to others and it makes me sad.

6. Hopes can be strong or weak; they can be in worthy or unworthy objects. Weak hopes impact us little, and don’t last long under pressure or frustration. Strong hopes impact us much, and stand against the storms of frustration and disappointment. Worthy hopes grant us the joy we seek. Unworthy hopes deceive for a time, and then they destroy us. Hoping in the praise of others will lead to a joyless life.

7. Fear is really a kind of hope. Fear is the hope of the avoidance of pain and hurt. It is a horrible hope to have long term, because we were made to run towards good. Avoiding bad is not the same thing as running toward good.


There has to be a better way to communicate what I’ve just written, but I cannot find it. I suspect you ought to read the previous points a few times to untangle my chaotic thoughts. However, I am crystal clear on what is next: our hope in Christ.

I am convinced there are too many hopes in Christ to count, you will spend your lifetime discovering new hopes, they are in scripture, on every page, and easy to learn.

Our most important hope is the hope of eternal life with Jesus in heaven. This hope is unshakable and will give us the strength to endure absolutely anything this world or it’s master, can throw at us. (I am referring to our responsibility as we persevere, I am not discounting the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit). This hope is the ultimate anchor for the soul.

When you woke up this morning, why did you get out of bed, what were you hoping would happen? When you last lost your temper, think back to the moments before, what were you hoping in? Consider how much joy and peace you have right now, what is the source, in what are you hoping? Consider deeply your sorrows and your surprises? What was the root? In what were you hoping?

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