Book Review: “Emily Lost Someone She Loved”

 

The death of a loved one.  The death of a pet.  These are some of the most difficult tragedies and losses that parents struggle to explain and help their children through.

The questions abound…

  • How much do I tell my kids?
  • Do I tell them everything is fine when it isn’t?
  • Do I allow them to be a part of family discussions?
  • Do I let them go to the funeral?
  • Should I let them look at the body in the casket?
  • How do I handle their questions about death?

These are all legitimate questions.  They are all not so easy to answer.  Kids Pastors are often in the position of needing to help parents navigate the treacherous waters of grief with their children.  There are not a lot of resources to help the child process their own grief and understand what is happening to them emotionally.

I am so thrilled to recommend this book to you.  Whether you are a parent, a teacher, or a Kids Pastor – this is a resource you will want on your bookshelf.  In “Emily Lost Someone She Loved”, author Kathleen Fucci does a great job of describing the pain and loss in words that children can understand.  The illustrations are beautifully done and the story is short and simple.

You can purchase the book on Amazon – HERE!  Also, I am giving away a FREE copy of the book.  Just email krista@highvoltage-kids.com and let her know you’d like to be entered.  We will draw the winner on Friday, June 16, 2017.  Winner will be notified by email.

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

 

Book Review: “How To Enjoy Reading Your Bible”

Keith Ferrin

I didn’t always enjoy reading the Bible.  I know – it’s really BAD for a pastor to admit this.  Just to clarify, it’s not that I disliked the Bible.  It’s just that I saw it as more of something I NEEDED to do rather than something I WANTED to do.

We’ve all been there.  Our Western mindset causes us to make reading the Bible something to be achieved and knocked off the list.  We make a grand goal of “reading the Bible through in a year,” but barely get through the book of Numbers before we abandon that and skip to Proverbs.  We look at the best-selling book of all time and treat it like an owner’s manual rather than a treasure map (which it  most definitely is).

My good friend, Keith Ferrin, is one of the most passionate people I have ever met about the Bible!  He just released a brand new book this week titled “How To Enjoy Reading The Bible.”  It’s an incredible read and VERY practical.  Keith’s goal is simple:  “To help you ENJOY the Bible.  If you enjoy it, you will read it more.  If you enjoy it, you will talk about it.  If you enjoy it, you will be more consistent in your time with God.  If you enjoy it, you will apply it!”

You will LOVE this book.  It will cause you to fall in love with an even BETTER book – The Bible!

Here’s the cool thing – Keith is so convinced you will love this book he is giving away a TON of FREE stuff if you purchase it this week!  All you have to do is visit Keith’s blog HERE to find out how you can get 8 FREE gifts just for purchasing the book this week.  I highly recommend this book!  It will revolutionize your Bible reading!

How-to-Enjoy-Reading-Your-Bible-3D-bigger-cropped

 

A Helpful Resource To Help Teach Young Children About Creation

God-Created

 

Throughout their academic life, children will have to face the onslaught of scientific theories, teachers, professors, and peers who will pressure them into leaving behind the “primitive and uneducated” belief that Earth was created by Almighty God.  A recent Gallup poll reveals that over 60% of Americans believe in the theory of evolution – many of them believing that it is the PRIMARY explanation for where life on Earth comes from.  

Earlier this year, Ken Ham, a well-known Christian apologist debated the outspoken evolutionist, Bill Nye (the Science Guy).  It was a classic  (and public) Creation-versus-Evolution debate.  Nye is more than just a former TV personality.  He was also featured in a YouTube video last year titled “Bill Nye: Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children.”  Click this link to watch the video.

Nye says, “in another couple centuries,” the creationist worldview “just won’t exist,” saying “there’s no evidence for it.”

The battle for the hearts and minds of the next generation begins long before kids enter a high school or college biology class.

Remember the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes?  It was a small child who saw and pointed out that the king had no clothes on at all.   Kids are not dumb.  Even if parents choose not to discuss it, children will soon recognize that the theory of evolution does contradict the Bible.  So, what can Christian parents do to counteract the push and pull of society to walk away from the Bible and embrace something else as the ultimate authority on the origin of life?

I don’t think it is a simple answer.  It all starts with teaching your children clearly what the Bible says about Creation.  Every once in a while, a tool comes along that helps to aid in that pursuit.  I came across such a tool recently, and wanted to share it with you.

God Created is a short picture book that is aimed at ages 3-8 years old.  It is well done with incredibly vivid illustrations.  It is written by Sarah Evelyn Hodson and illustrated by Jason Platt.  Sarah works as an early intervention speech-language pathologist in addition to writing children’s books.  She is a mom of two children.

You can purchase a copy of this book by clicking here!   Also, Sarah was kind enough to send me a copy to GIVE AWAY for free!  If you would like to be entered into the drawing, please email me at brian@highvoltage-kids.com.  I will announce the winner next week!

Recommended Resource: “Leading A Special Needs Ministry” by Amy Fenton Lee

According to a 2013 report released by the CDC, an estimated 1 in 50 children receive a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. Churches are finding themselves in a place where the need is great, but the answers and resources are few.  Kids Ministry Leaders are encountering an ever-increasing pressure to help parents navigate through these tough waters, but establishing an effective ministry to children with special needs can be a daunting task.

Amy Fenton Lee’s new book serves as a practical “how-to” handbook for the Kidmin Leader who desires to create an atmosphere of inclusion for children with special needs. This incredible book provides guidance for talking to parents who are learning their child has a diagnosis.  It also gives all the tools you will need to develop programs, write policies and educate volunteers working with children with disabilities.  Sample ministry documents are provided throughout this resource guide as well.

Includes:
*  Loving The Family Through the Diagnosis
*  Special Needs Statistics
*  Terms, Laws and Trends
*  Establishing a Mission for the Special Needs Ministry
*  Developing an Accommodation Plan for the Child with Special Needs
*  The Special Needs Ministry Leader
*  Volunteers: Leading, Recruiting, Training and Creating Community
*  Behavior and Participant Safety; and FAQs

I have personally known Amy for a while now.  I have been honored to speak at several events with her.  She is a powerhouse!  What will impress you more than her vast range of knowledge is her deep heart for families of children with special needs.  She blogs at www.TheInclusiveChurch.com – I highly recommend you becoming a regular reader!

Amy and the great folks at Orange are offering my readers a SPECIAL DEAL on this amazing resource.  You can get $2 off the purchase of one (1) copy of of the book “Leading a Special Needs Ministry”  (brings price down to $16.99)

Just use this Coupon Code at checkout (case sensitive):  LSNM2
Coupon good through: 12/31/13
Coupon only good for purchases through the Orange Store.
Make sure you are logged into your Orange Store account for coupon code to work.  (Anyone can create an account.)

WANT TO WIN A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK?
Amy has offered to give away a free copy of the book to one of my readers!  All you have to do is leave a comment in the comments section of this post if you want to win!  We will pick a winner and send you a copy of the book!

More about Amy Fenton Lee:

Amy is the special needs consultant to The reThink Group, Inc.  Amy has written extensively on the subject of special needs inclusion in children’s ministry environments and has been published in dozens of in-print publications, journals, and on the web, including her own blog, www.TheInclusiveChurch.com.

Book Review: “Connecting Church & Home” by Dr. Tim Kimmel

“Strong churches don’t make strong families.  Strong families make strong churches.” – Dr. Tim Kimmel

What is the center of your Family Ministry strategy?  Is it safety and protection from the dark influences of this world?  Is it reaching unchurched families through evangelism?  What drives your ministry to kids and families?

Dr. Tim Kimmel offers a one word answer in his new book, “Connecting Church & Home.” That one word:  GRACE.  Dr. Kimmel suggests that God’s grace can and should be what encompasses everything we do as a church – especially ministering to families.

Kimmel begins with the book with a challenging history of what has happened in the American church in the last 75 years.  As society has deteriorated, parents have felt more and more isolated and incapable of leading their own children on a spiritual journey.  Add to that – the church answered by raising up professional Children’s and Youth Ministers to “help” them raise their kids.  What happened more often was that the parents abdigated their responsibility to the “professionals.”

This book is challenging, but is a very encouraging read.  Kimmel offers a blue print of a “grace based parenting system.”  This is clearly defined as “treating others the way that God treats us” in every single relationship in the home.  Kimmel writes, “By making God’s grace the philosophical starting point of everything we do, we guarantee that whatever is done will be done within an authentic connection to our kids’ heart” (P. 58).

Kimmel’s strategy of “Grace Based Parenting” is broken into four dimensions:  Greatness (aiming kids at the biblical standard of greatness), Character (guiding kids through the building of godly character that will last a lifetime), Freedom (every child wants freedom; allowing the child freedom to fail, etc.), and Inner Needs (providing for the basic needs for love, security, hope, etc.).

Grace based parenting is a parenting strategy that seeks to produce heart change in the life of our kids.  This type of parenting results in kids who inwardly love Jesus and inwardly want to serve Him wholeheartedly.  Kimmel understands that if you change the heart – the outward actions will change to imitate Jesus as well.

“Connecting Church & Home” can be purchased here.

Check out this video from Dr. Tim Kimmel discussing his book:

Book Review – “From Hectic To Healthy” by Craig and Mary Jutila

Hectic to healthy

About a month ago I received a complimentary autographed copy of Craig and Mary’s book.  I was excited to dive into it because I had already read the first chapter via a free download on their site.  Let me just say, this book is a life-changer.

Like many of you, I have been blessed by Craig’s ministry for the last decade or so via his position as Kids Pastor at Saddleback to his incredible leadership materials and teaching resources at Empowering Kids.  I was saddened when I heard several years ago that Craig was having a difficult time, but was unaware of any of the details as to what he was going through.  This book chronicles much of the journey Craig and his wife, Mary, went on during that time period – as well as lessons learned from the journey.

In the book, Craig and Mary discuss how their lives had spun out of control due to driven, workaholic personalities and a desire to change the world for God.  Through it all, their marriage suffered, their family suffered, and their personal connection to God suffered.  They found themselves in a cycle they refer to in the book: SPIN.  In classic Craig fashion, this is an acronym that stands for Seasons, Priorities, Isolation, Neglect.

Without giving away too much of the content of the book, let me say that it was refreshingly candid and inspiring.  It is far from a “tell all” memoir.  Craig points no fingers of blame to others – instead, he takes full responsibility for the damage he brought to his family.  “H2H” is a glimpse into the hearts of an incredible couple who got swept away in the demands of public ministry.  Craig and Mary never take a “know it all” approach, instead they confess to being fellow strugglers who are continuing to learn and grow.

If you are someone who finds yourself living dangerously out of balance due to the constant busyness of ministry, this book is for you.  In fact, it is a book for ALL of us who labor in the fields of ministry – as a guide to maintain a healthy balance between ministry demands and family priorities.  It will challenge you, inspire you, and refresh you.

For more info and to order your copy of “From Hectic To Healthy:  The Journey To A Balanced Life”, click HERE.

“The Eric Trap” Book Review

Eric Trap

I am very pleased to be able to talk about The Eric Trap, a new book written by Jim Wideman, Sam Luce, Kenny Conley, and several others.  I received a copy a week or so ago and immediately began diving into it.  I have to say, I was blown away by it.

Here are the things I LOVED about The Eric Trap:

1)  It is written as a leadership fable. If you are not familiar with this style of writing (a la Patrick Lencioni, Ken Blanchard, and others), it is told as a fictional story of Eric Newman.  Eric is a regular guy who finds himself reeling from the demands and expectations of Kids Ministry.  It’s easy to read.  You learn as Eric learns.

2)  The main character is easy to relate to.  Eric is you.  Eric is me.  Eric is the Kidmin Leader we all have been at some point in our journey.  I felt a connection to Eric within the first couple of paragraphs.  I found myself truly caring about Eric and the pain he was going through.  That is what good writing does.  This book is well-written and compelling.

3)  The lessons are impacting.  The book deals with “five things every leader has to get right.”  Each of these lessons are learned by Eric along the way.  From learning how to balance ministry and family to serving under a Lead Pastor and carrying his/her vision, these lessons ARE things that every Kidmin Leader must get right if they want to accomplish God’s best in their ministry.

The only thing I wish was different with the book is that it is not COMPLETELY a leadership fable.  Periodically, the story of Eric is broken up with select lessons from successful Kidmin Leaders.  Don’t get me wrong – these lessons are phenomenally written and are very helpful.  I just wish the content could have been worked more into the story rather than having to continually pop out of the story in order to do practical teaching.

Bottom line – The Eric Trap is a well-written book that will appeal to much more than just Kidmin Leaders.  It serves as a guidebook for every new staff pastor getting into ministry.  Male or female.  Long-term or short-term.  Kids Ministry or Student Ministry.  Everyone can learn from Eric Newman and help themselves NEVER to fall into the “Eric Traps.”

* The official release date of the book is APRIL 25th.  For more info check out the official website.

Book Review: “Jumping The Track” by Roger Fields

jumping the track

When I first began seeing Roger tweet about the book he was writing, he was billing it as “The Kidz Blitz Story.”  That is a major understatement!  While this book does chronicle the story of how the Kidmin phenomenon KIDZ BLITZ got started, it is so much more than that!

“Jumping The Track” is Roger’s story.  It’s the story of a man who refused to follow the mold set by others in ministry.  It’s the story of a man’s struggle with his own overwhelmingly shy personality to become a mesmerizing stage host and people-person.  It’s the story of a man who broke through tradition into a dynamic faith experience.  It’s all that and much more!

Roger is a gifted storyteller.  After reading the book, I feel like I was right there with him, Tammie, Terra, Shannon, Mica, and Morgan for the whole journey.  I literally laughed out loud as Roger shared some of his early ministry mistakes.  I was truly challenged as I read about his leaps of faith to start Kidz Blitz.

“Jumping The Track” refers to being willing to abruptly change directions in life at the Lord’s command.  Rather than follow a pre-set strategy and list of long-term goals, Roger suggests that each of us should “hold on loosely” to the trajectory of our lives and be open to the voice of God.  He may call each of us to “Jump The Track.”  If so, will we be so tightly clinging to our long-term goals and human vision that we miss out on His plan?

I encourage each of you to purchase this book.  It will challenge you to think differently about life, ministry, and faith – in a good way!

“I Blew It!” Officially Released!

I’m very excited to announce that my book, “I Blew It!”, officially released this week!  This has been a labor of love that was nearly a year in the making (well, 20 years if you want to be technical LOL).  It chronicles my twenty years in Kids Ministry and all the biggest mistakes I have made – plus offers insight and principles to help YOU avoid those mistakes.

I was honored to have one of my heroes, Jim Wideman, write the Foreword for the book.  Jim is a legend in Kids Ministry and has served at some of the largest churches in America.  I appreciate his friendship and willingness to contribute to this project.

This book is filled with hilarious stories of incredible blunders I have made.  You will laugh until it hurts at how stupid I was in my early years of ministry (and probably will identify with many of the mistakes as well).  My prayer is that you will also be challenged to look at failure in a whole new way.  “Failure is never final.”

I was blessed to have some of the top leaders in Kids Ministry read a pre-release copy of the book and write endorsements.  These leaders include Kenny Conley, Sam Luce, Gina McClain, Ryan Frank, Michael Chanley, Karl Bastian, and many more.  I am humbled that these men and women of God with a passion for kids would lend their names and credibility to this project!

Many have asked, “What are the topics you cover in I Blew It!?”  So, I thought I would share those with you – CLICK HERE!

Thanks, everyone, for celebrating this milestone with me!  I pray that this book will be a blessing to you and your ministry – helping you avoid some of the biggest pitfalls of Kids Ministry!