Every Conversation Is A Spiritual Conversation

spiritual conversations with our kids

 

In my twenty-three years as a kids’ pastor, I can’t tell you how many times a parent has walked up to me after church and asked, “My son was asking me questions about baptism last night.  Would you meet with him to explain what water baptism is all about?”  I’ve received countless emails that say something like, “My daughter asked me what it means to be saved.  I don’t want to confuse her, so can I set her up an appointment with you this week?  I’m sure you can explain it better than I can.”  Parents have asked me to talk to their kids about every conceivable spiritual question.

I’m happy to help, but when a parent asks ME to talk their kid about spiritual issues instead of them…my answer is always, “No.”  Now, before you decide I am the meanest Children’s Pastor on the planet, watch this video and you’ll understand where I am coming from.  In this video, I explain why I believe the primary sources of spiritual conversation for these kids should be their own parents.  Too often, parents and grandparents believe they aren’t qualified to impart spiritual wisdom to kids.

Take a few moments and watch what I share in this video.  I think it will cause you to have a seismic shift in your view of what “Spiritual Conversations” with your kids can look like.

This is the third in a series of videos taken from my new book, “Talk Now And Later:  How To Lead Kids In Life’s Tough Topics.”  If you missed the first two videos, you can find them here:

VIDEO #1:  “Are You A Proactive Or Reactive Parent?”

VIDEO #2:  “Don’t Miss The Cues”

My book releases on September 1, 2015.  For a limited time, you can purchase a pre-release autographed copy of the book HERE!

Facebook_TNAL_Book_Signing

I am honored to have been invited by Barnes & Noble in West Little Rock to host a book signing for my latest book, “Talk Now and Later: How To Lead Kids Through Life’s Tough Topics” (which releases September 1st).  I would LOVE to have all of my local friends and family come out to support the book, purchase a signed copy, and enjoy a night of fun and fellowship.  Help give this book a STRONG start!  I fully believe it is going to be a blessing to many Christian parents as they seek to have lasting and impacting relationships with their kids! Hope to see you there!  CLICK HERE for more info!

Date: September 3, 2015
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Event: BOOK SIGNING - "Talk Now And Later" (Barnes & Noble, Little Rock - Sept. 3, 2015)
Venue: Barnes & Noble; 11500 Financial Centre Pkwy, Little Rock, Arkansas 72211
Public: Public

Brain Science & The Bible: Are They Enemies?

Brain vs Bible

 

I will never forget sitting in the company of a preacher while I was in Bible College.  This preacher railed against Science and technology.  He viewed them as vehement enemies of the Kingdom of God.  He firmly believed that any sort of connection between Science and The Bible was a lie.

Growing up in a Spirit-led church community, I often heard arguments against “those churches who plan and prepare their services.”  It was believed that those who use their human minds to plan Church services were “not allowing God’s Spirit to lead them.”  The assumption, of course, was that God is not interested in the human brain and any suggestion that God would speak ahead of time to lead a pastor as to what He wanted to do in a particular service was just not probable.

Although I am a FULL believer in the commands of God to have “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) and to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), I think to dismiss any value of our human brain which was created by God in all of its complexity – would be a huge mistake.  God created us with a brain for a reason.  It was not to rely on human wisdom alone.  But, it was to be led by the Spirit to use the brain and all of its catecholamines, action potentials, and neuroplasticity for HIS glory!

Throughout history, there have been incredible minds that have intersected the study of God’s creation with the study of the scriptures:

  • St. Thomas Aquinas and his work regarding Aristotle and the formulation of natural law
  • Francis Bacon, the founder of the scientific method
  • Albert Einstein (though not a Christian, stated, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

The fact is, “God gave us a brain not just because our body needed a command and control center to direct it but because God enjoys seeing us steward our brains for his glory.” (Dr. Charles Stone, Brain Savvy Leaders).

Why is understanding the human brain so important?

1.  What goes on in our minds can cause us to stumble.

“But he turned to Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan.  You are a stone that could make me stumble, for you are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.'”Matthew 16:23

2.  We are to love God with our minds.

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind.” – Matthew 23:37

3.  Our spiritual battle largely occurs in our minds.

“But I see a different law at work in my body.  It wages a war against the law of my mind and takes me prisoner with the law of sin that is in my body.” – Romans 7:23

4.  Spirituality engages the mind.

“If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind isn’t productive.  What should I do?  I’ll pray in the Spirit, but I’ll pray with my mind too; I’ll sing a psalm in the Spirit, but I’ll sing the psalm with my mind too.” – 1 Corinthians 14:14-15

5.  We’re to purposefully focus our minds’ attention on certain things, and attention is a core component of learning.  In other words, thinking affects behavior.

“Think about the things above and not the things on earth.” – Colossians 3:2

“From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things:  all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.”  – Philippians 4:8

This is why I have enjoyed reading the book, “Brain Savvy Leaders:  The Science of Significant Ministry.”  Dr. Stone began his interest in the human brain when his daughter, Tiffany, developed a brain tumor.  As he began to see the human brain for what it is – a fantastic creation by our Heavenly Father that is to be used by human beings for His glory – he embarked on a journey of deeper understanding of what it means to be a good steward of this powerful human organ.

Here is what several leading voices are saying about this book:

“Brain Savvy Leaders is the best book I have read on the brain science of healthy thinking and effective leadership.  Dr. Stone has done an incredible job of balancing modern brain science with biblical truth, making complex ideas simple to understand, and providing practical tools to enhance mental performance.” – Dr. Timothy R. Jennings, President, Tennessee Psychiatric Association

“This book will help you with emotional regulation, personal productivity, team collaboration, and change management.  It’s a winner!” – Dan Reiland, Author of Amplified Leadership

“Brain Savvy Leaders shares helpful tips on how to master leadership in the church.  I needed this book.” – Ron Edmondson, Senior Pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church, Lexington, KY

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it for those who want to gain a better understanding between the Science of the human brain and its Divine purpose!

Purchase your copy of Brain Savvy Leaders by Dr. Charles Stone HERE!

Brain Savvy Leaders

 

Don’t Miss The Cues (VIDEO)

dont miss the cues

 

Our kids WANT to talk.  Sometimes, the reason they don’t is because REAL conversation with Mom or Dad isn’t something that they do often.  But, it’s not always THEIR choice.   Too many parents don’t recognize the cues that their children give that are a clear declaration of, “I really want to talk.”

Many times our kids want to talk about things that haven’t crossed our minds. Instead of always being focused on the task in front of us or what’s on the radio while we’re driving, parents need to look for the open doors of conversation that their kids are presenting them dozens of times per day.  Parents need to be able to read their kids’ body language and tone of voice.

In this video, I share a personal story about my son and some insights on how you can always be ready when your child gives you the cue that “it’s time to talk.”  Believe me, you don’t want to miss those cues!

 

In case you missed Video #1 in this series, you can find it HERE!  It’s all about becoming a PROactive parent rather than a REactive parent!

Are You A PROactive Or REactive Parent?

3 children with computer

 

Sadly, parents often wait until a CRISIS hits before they have conversations about TOUGH topics like Sex, Bullying, Self-image, Divorce, etc.  By then, it is often too late.  By the time they end up having the conversation, their child has already been filled with all kinds of misinformation from school, friends, and The Media.  These REACTIVE parents end up having to try to UNDO what’s already been done by society and the other voices that are speaking into their child’s life.

Instead of relegating conversations about these tough subjects to a one-time ordeal that is uncomfortable for you AND your kid, why not take a different approach?  Why not keep the lines of communication open so that these important topics are discussed as part of the ebb and flow of everyday interactions?  Better yet, why not PLAN and PREPARE for these conversations so that you are not merely REACTING when a crisis hits?

In this short video, I share with you how to know whether you are a REactive parent or a PROactive parent.  I also share several thoughts from my book, “Talk Now And Later: How To Lead Kids Through Life’s Tough Topics” that I think could totally revolutionize your parenting approach.  Watch this short video and learn how you can become the proactive parent you’ve always wanted to be.

You can purchase an autographed copy of “Talk Now And Later” now (before it releases Sept 1st) – click HERE!

MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT About My New Book

TNAL Facebook Ad (20 percent TEXT)

I have been working the last two years on my new book, Talk Now And Later: How To Lead Kids Through Life’s Tough Topics.”  I firmly believe this book is going to be a GAME CHANGER for all Christian Parents!

Children today are being bombarded by messages that are contrary to what the Bible teaches. Parents (and grandparents who are now parenting their grandkids) feel completely overwhelmed as they try to navigate the difficult waters of conversation with their kids about very difficult topics.  That’s why I wrote this book!  To help parents and grandparents lead kids through topics like SEX, self-Image, death, bullying, divorce, and more.  You don’t have to GUESS how to communicate with your kids about these subjects.  I have taken my 23 years of Children’s Pastoring experience (and my experience as a father of two children) and put it in this book to help you.

Here is the basic message of the book:

  1. Parents need to understand that it is far better to be PROactive in having conversations about these tough topics than to simply be REactive when a crisis hits their family.
  2. The way to pave the way for those BIG conversations in the future is to have many many small conversations as your child grows (about these tough topics), giving them a little at a time and building the foundation for meaningful conversation later.
  3. Parents must have their radar on all the time, looking for open doors and cues that their children will give them that “now is the time to enter through the door and have a small, meaningful conversation.”  Seize that moment!
  4. Parents should realize that EVERY conversation can be a Spiritual conversation.  God can use every conversation to shape their child’s future.

I am so honored that Dr. Michelle Anthony wrote the Foreword for my book.  She is the best-selling author of “Spiritual Parenting” and “Becoming A Spiritually Healthy Family.”  I am very excited about this book becoming a resource for every Christian parent.

The book officially releases to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Christian Retailers on September 1st. However, YOU get a chance to get it RIGHT NOW!  For a limited time, you can get an autographed copy of the book for only $15!  PLUS, you’ll receive it within the next couple of weeks…WAY before the rest of the world!

Want to download a FREE chapter of the book?  Click here!

You can order your copy HERE and have it before anyone else!

So, get your copy of “Talk Now And Later” today and start learning how to lead the kids in your life in meaningful spiritual conversations about life’s toughest topics.  You’ll be glad you did.  I can’t wait to hear the stories of what God is going to do as you “Talk Now AND Later!”

Here’s a quick video to tell you more:

 

My Blog Turns 4 Years Old TODAY!

happy birthday brianWell, it was four years ago TODAY that I launched “Brian’s Blog.”  It has been a wild ride, and I have loved every minute of it.  This blog has grown from ZERO to over 25,000 monthly readers.  I could never have imagined that.  It’s by GOD’S grace that any of this has happened.  I am so honored to be a part of the lives of so many Kids Ministry Leaders and Parents who read my articles.

Would you help me celebrate my four year birthday?  In return, I will give YOU a birthday present!  Can’t beat that!

When I launched this blog, I was answering a weekly question from one of my readers.  We have gotten away from that in the last year or so.  I want to return to my roots!  That’s where YOU come in!

Please leave a comment telling me either a specific SUBJECT you would like me to write about (either Kids Ministry or Parenting) OR a specific question you would like to ask me.  I will choose several over the next several weeks to answer.  If I choose your question or suggested subject, you just might win an autographed copy of my upcoming book, “Talk Now And Later:  How To Lead Kids Through Life’s Tough Topics.”   Winners will be announced next week!

Thanks for helping build “Brian’s Blog” into a wonderful community of Kidmin Leaders and Parents who are committed to raising the next generation into life-long followers of Jesus Christ!  Leave a comment in the Comments section with your specific question or suggested subject for my next blog post!  God bless!

Instagram TNAL

A Children’s Pastor’s Response To The Supreme Court Ruling On Same-Sex Marriage

gay marriage

On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States determined that marriage between homosexual couples would be legally recognized in all fifty states. No doubt, our kids are hearing all about this topic both on the TV and, many times, on the playground.  It’s hard for any parent to control the context in which their child may have conversations regarding this important topic.

Many Christian parents have struggled with the question, “How do I talk to my kids about this?” Likewise, many Children’s Pastors have struggled with the question, “What is my responsibility in this? Should I discuss ‘Gay Marriage’ with the children in my Kids Church?”

Some thoughts for Children’s Pastors:

I think you have to be careful what issues you are addressing in Children’s Church “as a group.”  So many children are at different points in the journey regarding both mental and emotional maturity.  When you address something as weighty and serious as homosexuality and gay marriage to a large group of kids, it is very difficult to do so in a way that is appropriate for EVERY child.

In addition, many parents (as they should) want to be THE ones to discuss topics such as this with their kids.  I understand, many parents DON’T ever discuss it with their kids.  That’s unfortunate.  However, you don’t want to undercut parents by addressing it publicly in a large group of kids.  This should be something that parents include in their general talks about “Biblical Sexuality” with their kids.

Of course, if a child asks you a direct question about it – treat that just like you do any other question about sex or sexuality.  Answer with, “I would be happy to share my thoughts with you about this subject.  Let’s talk to Mom or Dad when they come to pick you up.  Perhaps together, we can answer your questions in a healthy way.”  Then, follow the cues of the parent.  If they do not wish to discuss it right then and there, follow their lead.  Allow them to do so on their own terms and in their own timing.

An alternative to discussing this with the large group is to offer a special class or “discussion” in which you allow parents to sign their kids up to attend.  Encourage parents to attend with their children.  Rather than coming at the topic in a negative manner (i.e. “We are AGAINST gay marriage”, etc.), discuss the topic within the overall umbrella of God’s plan for our sexuality (“God created male and female to complement one another.  Marriage is the life-long commitment between one man and one woman.”).

The topic of “gay marriage” and “homosexuality” is a difficult one for kids.  Yes, it is becoming much more commonplace and a topic that they are hearing more and more about, but it is also very polarizing.  While we don’t ever shy away from the Truth, we also must be wise and careful when dealing with the youngest among us.  We want clarity, not confusion.

Some thoughts for Christian Parents:

Depending on the age of your child, they may or may not be aware of the Supreme Court decision. They may or may not be aware of the subject of “Gay Marriage” at all.  Don’t feel pressure to bring the topic up to your child simply because it is in the news, all over Social Media, etc.  Your child may be too young to even consider the conversation.

If your child asks you a question about it, address it. However, if your child is in the 4th Grade or above – they are GOING to hear about it. Kids love to talk about things that seem “taboo,” so it is better for you to be the FIRST one to speak with your children about this issue. It’s a lot harder to deal with when you are having to UNDO the misinformation your child may have already received from friends or the media.

As you have this conversation, remember:

  • Don’t freak out! – Don’t overreact and freak out! I see too many parents flip out over things like this. Don’t go on a diatribe about the “liberal agenda” and the “LGBT Conspiracy.” Just calmly share with them how, although some people choose to live their lives in contradiction to what God planned and the Bible teaches – our goal should be to pray for them, show them God’s love, and display God’s character in everything we do. Don’t flip out! Children take their emotional cues from you, the parent. Although there is reason to be concerned about our nation and community regarding this issue, God is STILL on the throne. There is no need to panic!
  • Don’t only give PART of the story! – Don’t simply say, “We believe that Homosexuality is a sin.” Explain to them what “sin” really is – “CHOOSING to live outside of God’s plan and purpose for your life.” Sin is the willful choice to disobey God’s commands. Revisit the story of Adam and Eve and how sin and temptation has been a problem for human beings since the beginning of time. Remind them that, although people make choices that are the opposite of what God has commanded, Jesus came to die on the cross so that ALL sin can be forgiven. All we must do is admit our sin, receive forgiveness, and CHOOSE to follow Jesus every day!
  • Don’t focus on the DON’T! – More important than the fact that “We DON’T believe that ‘Gay Marriage’ is right,” children need to hear what we DO believe. They need to hear that God has a plan for marriage. He created male and female and desires that they come together for a life-long partnership with God as the Head. God wants to bless the family unit with His presence on a daily basis. It is a sacred institution, and no law, decree, or court can change what God has planned since the Creation of the human race.

A reminder for us all:

Children are watching you during this critical time. In fact, THE WORLD is watching Christians during this time.  If they see you addressing this issue with anger, bitterness, or (God forbid) hatred in your words or tone of voice, that will send a confusing message to them.  After all, God is Love.  He created EVERY man, woman, boy, and girl.  He loves them ALL!

Remember that Ephesians 4:14-15 (NLT) states, “Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”

That is our mandate as the Church….to speak God’s truth with love.  Just because the truth of God’s word is different from the beliefs of others or the ruling of a court doesn’t mean we should join with others who choose to resort to name-calling, picketing, belittling and hate. As children of God, we need to be careful that our speech, tweets and posts are speaking the truth in love. We need to T.H.I.N.K. before we tweet.

The Church should respond in the same way that God instructed the children of Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:14:

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

We can’t force others to be humble – but we can be humble.

We can’t make people pray and seek His face – but we can.

We can’t force people to turn from their wicked ways, but we can and should clean up our own lives.

When we do, God promises, He will hear from Heaven and heal our land.

The answer to this world’s problems and America’s problems is Jesus. Share Jesus. Share His love. Share the difference He has made in your life. Trust that when people encounter His grace – they, too, will be changed!

“Selfies” Are Sinful! Here’s Why…

seflie

OK, perhaps I am overstating it JUST a bit!  :-)  But, the “selfie” culture on Social Media is very telling.

Much of the time (not ALL, so no hate mail OK?), these selfies are simply a means of saying, “Look at me!  I want attention!”  Everywhere you look on Social Media people are taking pictures of themselves doing the most mundane things in the most elaborate poses – as if the rest of us really want to see this.  “Check out my new shoes!”  “My hair is ON POINT today!”  “Look at these abs, baby!”  It’s all about me, me, me!  It’s all about self, self, self!

Our society suffers from a “ME-First” mentality.  It’s the reason – when you are coming up on a stoplight – that you change lanes just to get further ahead of the car in front of you. You are GOING to get ahead of them.  Or when a car begins to pass you on the road, you speed up.  You will NOT allow them to get in that coveted position!  Talk about a ME-First world!

It’s the reason you get angry when someone else in the restaurant gets their food before you when you CLEARLY sat down before they did.

And, the ULTIMATE example of a ME-First mentality?  Black Friday!  This is where you can see the disgraceful sight of people pushing, elbowing, and biting so they can be the one to save $10 on bed sheets for Christmas.

It’s the reason you check how many friends you have on Facebook or followers on Twitter and Instagram in comparison to someone else.  If you have more, you are higher up on the social ladder.  You are sitting in the seat of honor.  Some of you even have the app “Followers Plus” that tells you how you rate against others.  It gives you the ability to see your “fame value” and your “acclaim value” to see if you really are as popular as you feel.

So, what does Jesus say about elevating yourself above others?  What does Jesus say you should do INSTEAD of trying to live with a “ME-First” mentality?  Jesus says…

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Luke 14:11

Jesus seems to be saying, “Don’t wait for other people, circumstances, or even God to humble you. CHOOSE to humble yourself.”

You must CHOOSE to put others first.  You must CHOOSE to put yourself in the lowest position – not because you were forced to be last. Not because you’re having a pity party because everyone else got the breaks.  But, because you CHOSE to humble yourself.

So, how do you choose to humble yourself?  How do you actively humble yourself on a daily basis so you never have to go through the pain of BEING humbled?

I shared a message with our congregation on this very topic.  In it, I share some insights from The Bible that will help you in this process of choosing to HUMBLE YOURSELF!  I hope it is a blessing to you: