Do it like Disney. No, wait . . . like God.

Do it Like God

Why does the world perform customer service better than Christians?

In preparation for our first week of summer camp at Schaumburg Christian Day Camp, I’ve been training my staff using business tips from Walt Disney himself. Now, lest you fear that I am preparing a group of Christian counselors with the mere musing of the Mouse Man . . . do not tremble my brethren.

Here’s the thing: Most of Disney’s principles on running a successful business and growing a customer base can really preach! Isn’t that so often the case? Any time the world finds something truly amazing, earth-shattering, and guaranteed to work every time . . . we find out God’s been saying it all along.

Let’s look at a couple of Disney’s precepts and see how they compare with the Ultimate’s precepts.

1. “Two Ears, two eyes, and one mouth, use them in that ratio.” James is not the first biblical writer to warn us of the evils of the tongue. Proverbs overflows with admonitions such as this. Disney Cast Members (employees) are instructed to hear the Guest (customer) out. Listen to hear the real need and meet it as efficiently as possible. They are also told to watch their speech in front of the guests who have come to Disney World to escape the baser things of life, not to hear Cinderella lamb-basting Jasmine because she won’t cover her shift.

2. Make “Wow Moments by exceeding the guest’s expectations. This particular ideal has much in common with Panera Bread Company’s “We break any rule to satisfy a customer.” Here’s how it works – a customer complains that their sandwich wasn’t made correctly. Of course, the associate (employee) is listening intently so as to know how best to fix the problem. What is the customer expecting? They obviously want a sandwich made the right way. If the sandwich-shop employee remakes the sandwich, is that going to “wow” the customer? No. All he’s doing is meeting an expectation. An expectation, mind you, that wasn’t met correctly the first time. So, how do you wow such a customer? You give them what they expect, and the drop something on them they don’t. “I’m sorry your sandwich wasn’t made correctly. Here’s the corrected sandwich and a fresh pastry do show you how sorry we are.”

In that moment, the customer (no matter how miffed they were) can’t help but look a little surprised. They weren’t expecting that. They were “wowed.”

Where’s the biblical principle? Everywhere. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another.” Providing solely what is expected is not kindness, it’s common sense. Kindness exceeds the expectation. I Peter 2:20 tells us, “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.” What does it matter if we patiently bear up under a tongue lashing we deserve? But if we smile and speak gracious words in love when that customer berates us, we’ve not only created a “wow moment,” but we’ve found favor with God in the process.

Time would fail us to speak on not taking vengeance on poor tippers, heaping coals of fire on the heads of messy children, loving our enemies who tell the boss we weren’t doing our jobs, and doing all to the glory of God whether I’m eating and drinking on break or serving soup.

3. “What time is the 3 o’clock parade?” Disney used this very common question at Disney World to reinforce the above points, and then teach a little about giving the benefit of the doubt. The answer to the question seems clear, but how often have we found ourselves asking stupid questions (it doesn’t matter what your teacher said, they do exist)? My administrative assistant used to work for the USPS where she was frequently asked if they sold stamps. Ouch. But here’s the thing. Disney taught his people to see beyond the question. They needed to give the guest the benefit of the doubt that they really didn’t see the obvious answer but were desirous for assistance. A heart of respect and love keeps us from responding rudely when confronted by perceived idiocy. Instead, we realize that a real person is seeking a real answer.

The second part of this was the Cast Member was encouraged to “add value” to their answer. “The parade starts at three, and the best place to view it from is . . . .” Not only did they give the helpful answer, they gave the guest the wow moment they weren’t expecting.

The point is this, Christians should be the quintessential experts on all things customer service. Yes, the Bible is sufficient for on the job conflict as well. We should be the most kind, the most helpful, the most forgiving, the most sacrificial, the most friendly, the most joyful, and the most productive individuals on the planet. Why? Because we have been created by God to be so, commanded by God to be so, and empowered by God to be so!

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Snake-Bitten Snake Handler – Not Faith Related

Not Faith Related

Pastor Mark Wolford, Snake-handler, Dies Of Rattler Bite

Perhaps he didn’t have enough faith?

This is sad to hear, but important to notice. Do not test God. God never tells us to prove our faith by ridiculous show. We prove our faith by doing what Christ prescribed in His Word. We obey. We love. We submit. We preach. We follow.

Yes, Paul was bit by a snake and didn’t die. And yes, Jesus appears to say in Mark 16:15-18 that anyone who believes in Him will be able to handle snakes, drink poison, heal the sick, cast out demons, and speak in tongues. But as we learn to Take Back the Bible we have to interpret Scripture with Scripture. We have to search the whole of the Bible in order to correctly apply its truths.

1. Jesus was not referring to every Christian in this passage (though principally, some of it applies to us). Suffice it to say, miracles are not something that God is gifting His children to perform in this dispensation. I know that was a powerful comment with no biblical citations. And I agree that such a thing is completely unacceptable here at Taking Back the Bible. But, as I mentioned above, an understanding of biblical principles requires a study of the whole of the Scriptures. This particular matter is quite involved and, admittedly, is hotly debated. I would love to delve into this subject in more detail, but the time and space provided on this topic keeps me from diving in.

2. In conjunction with the above point, James 2:18 does in fact tell us how to work out our faith . . . and it doesn’t involve miracles. “But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’” How do I know snake-handling isn’t the “works” he’s talking about? James immediately follows these doctrinal comments with application for us. He tells us to watch our mouths because our tongues are full of evil (chapter 3). We’re told to avoid conflict, lust, the world, pride, presumption, and arrogance (Chapter 4). We’re instructed in how to use our money and are exhorted to be patient, cease complaining, pray for the sick, and much more (Chapter 5). But never once is it insinuated in any passage of Scripture that we should parade dangerous acts in an attempt to witness to our faith.

Do you want others to see your faith?

Love God and love them.

Your faith will be obvious.

God’s Thoughts on Gender Roles: Part I

“He doesn’t treat me like a princess!”

“Women are more emotional than men.”

(so consequently) “Real men don’t cry.”

“I’m a mom; I’m allowed to worry.”

“If your music minister is more concerned that the choir trills their r’s correctly than that they fill the sanctuary with loud sounds of battle, your worship service and church community might be effeminate.”

Where did all of these opinions come from? More importantly, are your beliefs about how men and women are to conduct themselves guided by culture or Christ? Are our gender roles defined by men or God? David Crabb recently solicited the assitance of Paul Matzko to deal with this subject. I am so glad that he did. I am going to link Paul’s article here and allow it to become a springboard for our own discussion on the subject.

Read this post, do some study, and return here for a hotly-debated issue: Violent Men, Working Women, and Evangelical Gender Norms

Thank You for Doing that Reading Thing

That Reading Thing

We genuinely appreciate the number of views we’ve received today. We hope these posts have been an encouragement or challenge (whichever was most necessary), and we pray you continue to return for more timely application from God’s Word. You can also follow Aaron on Twitter and Evermind Ministries on Facebook.

The next time you visit any of these pages please feel free to comment on what you read! We would love to hear from you and interact with you. Lastly, we will be developing an “Ask the Counselor” page shortly that will give you the opportunity to ask questions about how God’s Word applies to life. We greatly desire to help you take that next step as you Take Back the Bible!

Gendercide

LifeNews.com posted an article by Steven Ertelt about sex-selective, late-term abortions. The original article can be read here: Planned Parenthood Encourages Woman to Get Sex-Selection Abortion.

Let me be clear about this. It won’t take long. It won’t be difficult to understand. Murder is a sin.

The act of murder is defined by most dictionaries as “The unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.” By this definition, abortion is not murder as long as it’s legal. But, at Taking Back the Bible, man’s definitions just aren’t good enough. In biblical terms, murder is defined as “Taking the life of an innocent individual.” Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17 both prohibit murder. The Hebrew word רָצַח (ratsach) has always been understood to mean the purposeful or accidental taking of someone’s life for “personal or selfish gain” (Tyndale Bible Dictionary).

But the crux of the abortion argument always seems to be whether or not the “thing” being aborted can in fact be considered alive. Many scientists, doctors, and pro-choice advocates skirt the issue with imposing medical terminology or philanthropic straw men, and often they outright lie about the realities of life. But according to God’s perfect Word, we are living sinners at the moment of conception (Psalm 51:5). There was also a steep penalty for hurting a pregnant woman so that her child would die (Exodus 21:22-25). I’ve barely scratched the top of this topic in biblical terms. The Bible is explicitly clear on this issue!

This particular variation on abortion (sex-specific gendercide) simply reveals how base and twisted abortion advocates are becoming. Not only is it okay to kill a baby because it’s a bad time to be pregnant, but now I don’t have to like its sex. What next? “Well, ma’am, genetically we can tell that your son will have brown hair.” “Oh, that’s too bad. I prefer red. I think I’ll have an abortion and try for red next time.” Beliefs concerning human rights deteriorate as the culture moves farther and farther away from God and His precepts.

God’s Word is sufficient for this situation. How can a atheistic doctor tell us whether or not God hates abortion? If you are a Christian who supports the abortion (for any reason), you need to go to Wal-Mart, buy a white T-shirt and a black magic marker, and write on the shirt,

I Don’t Read My Bible.”

Or, if you read It and ignore It, you may write,

I Don’t Believe My Bible.”

Abortion is murder. Let’s Take Back God’s Word from those who ignore It or deliberately twist It.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Now, I know perfectly well that this post was short, not-so-sweet, and to the point. But for those of you who are still grappling with this question, for those of you who have had an abortion, or for those of you who belive you are in a moral dilemma . . . we want to help.

We would love to meet with you or communicate with you via E-mail and help you see the wondrous hope God has for those who have already had an abortion. We can discuss why you really need to carry your baby to term. We can find God’s answers to your questions together. There are answers.

Please contact us at Counselor@EvermindMinistries.com

“Identifying and Defeating Pride” – Jerry Bridges (HT David Crabb)

David Crabb has a wonderful synopsis of Jerry Bridges discussion on pride from his book Respectable Sins. Both this article and the book are a must read. Click on the link below to read the article.

Identifying and Defeating Pride

Demons Among Us?

Demons Among Us

A naked man in Miami was shot and killed when he refused to stop eating the face of his victim. Sources say he continued his gnawing even after being shot the first time.

We acknowledge that our society is filled with the abnormal, the aberrant, and the anomalous, but the only answers society can point to are the elusive “mental illnesses” or chemical imbalances. Of course the “professionals” have a hard enough time defining the mind let alone an illness of it, and they have no tests to prove the chemical balancing act. But since the Bible provides all we need for life and godliness, let us turn to the Scriptures for an explanation of deviant behavior. We will find there prevalent answers on the subject. Some of which are direct explanations and others are vivid illustrations.

The answer to the question, “where does aberrant behavior come from” is always sin. Scripture tells us that we are born sinners because Adam first sinned. We are informed that sin is anything that misses the mark of God’s standard. Since God’s standard is pure perfection, sin is the cause of anything that deviates from God’s holiness. This is why it’s impossible for humanity to please God with sin in our lives. This is why we need a Savior (see What You Need to Know for more information about your sin). Further we are told in God’s Word that sin is not only inherent in all of us, it is also present in the world because of us, and propagated by Satan to destroy us.

The first and second sources are easy for most believers to understand, but the third root of sin (Satan and his demonic followers) gets a few more quizzical looks. One reason satanic/demonic activity strains our head muscles is that everything they do seems to dwell in that “unknowable” spiritual realm. Another reason is the lack of “Demons for Dummies” sections in the Scriptures.

If you couldn’t already tell, I believe the type of behavior experienced recently in Miami (and on every continent, in every country, and [I would argue] in every city of this world) probably finds it roots in demonic influence. I would like to “take back” two key ideas with this article: 1. What demons are, and 2. What they do. I believe Satan succeeds the most when affluent, “intellectuals” deny his existence and work in this world. If nothing else, I hope we will be able to see through Satan’s lies concerning his henchmen . . . demons.

Side Note: This is not the only occurrence of what they are calling cannibal/zombie behavior. More and more situations like this one are popping up in the media every day, and every time it’s discovered that a new drug called “cloud nine” is the culprit. These bath salts are being blamed for the deviant behavior of the perpetrators. But here is the point I would like to make before continuing our discussion on demon activity: drugs have always been used in conjunction with demonic rituals. I believe there is more than enough evidence to prove that even though these (and other) drugs can alter the abuser’s reality, their presence does not disprove demonic activity.

What Are Demons?

We must go all the way back to Genesis via Revelation to understand what demons are. Simply put, they are the fallen angels that were swept out of heaven when Satan was cast out (Revelation 12:4). We are told that a third of the heavenly host followed the Devil to his destruction. They are the same as angels with one major difference; instead of choosing to commit themselves to God, they chose to reject Him. Therefore, everything the Bible has to say about angels, their characteristics, and abilities can be applied to demons as well. The main point I would like to confirm here is that they did and do in fact exist. Christ Himself dealt with many demons. His acknowledgment of their existence should be good enough for anyone who is trying to take back the Bible. For this reason, I do not intend to branch off into a full-out discussion on Angelology. Beyond that, many amazing men have written volumes on the subject for our personal study. Charles C. Ryrie deals with angels and demons in detail in his work Basic Theology (I will be relying on some of his thoughts for our discussion here). To the same degree, any theology book will deal with the angelology/demonology. The real hot-point of this discussion is going to revolve around the second and third questions concerning the work of demons and whether or not they are doing anything today.

Still, so that we are all on the same page, let me say that there is no biblical evidence to support that demons are deceased individuals. In like manner, the ideas that demons are the disembodied spirits of som pre-Adamic race or that they are the offspring of Angels and men, is extremely tenuous and rely heavily on the wide extrapolation of certain biblical texts. So, it is safe to say for our discussion that Genesis’ account of the fallen angels are, in fact, the demons of today’s talk.

What Did Demons Do Back Then?

The Bible attributes various satanic duties and responsibilities of demons:

1. They afflict man. The Bible says they are able to inflict diseases (Matthew 17:15-18), cause deviant thinking (Mark 5:5), and they can bring death (Revelation 9:14-19). I must say, though, that not all physical illness can be attributed to demons (much like what Christian Scientists believe), because Christ often distinguishes between the two.

2. They bring perversion to man. They twist God’s perfect standard. They promote idolatry and false religion (Deuteronomy 32:17, I John 4:1-4, I Timothy 4:1-3).

3. They possess people. It is easy to tell from the ministry of Christ that demons possessed unbelieving individuals. They appear to have the power to completely take over the actions and words (and presumably the minds) of human beings. Many times the possessed person acted very strangely, but it is important to note that extreme behavior was not always a consequence of demon possession.

What Do Demons Do Now?

Here lies the crux of the issue. Do demons have the same duties and influences on the modern world that they had thousands of years ago. Some would quickly point to our nude friend in Miami and say, “If anyone was possessed, he was.” Third world tribes still dabble in demonology on a regular basis. Yet there are those who would say the whole thing is ridiculous, and yet a fourth group lives like it doesn’t matter. I believe my audience is probably in the first or last category.

The first truth we must grapple with is that nowhere in the Scriptures does it say that angels of any stripe have ceased their activities on this earth. In fact, we know that they have been working and will continue to work right up until the point where God throws the evil ones into eternal bondage in the Lake of Fire (with a brief 1,00 year hiatus right before that). Demonic influences on this earth are just as real and active as they were when one-third of the created angels fell like a lightning bolt from heaven. We cannot deny this point, and no amount of makeup will hide it.

What’s the Application?

As you can probably tell from my opening illustration, I do believe the example in Miami is indicative of demonic possession. Without being there and witnessing it first hand, I would still say it has all the earmarks: extremely deviant behavior (unnecessary nudity, beating a man, eating his face), and superhuman power (continuing his actions despite a bullet lodging in his body). But this is not the main focus of this discussion. Even though I hope your eyes might be opening to the fact that Satan uses his minions to pervert the world, extreme examples like the one above are probably in the minority. The real scary stuff hides behind the mundane.

Satan’s stupid (he dared defy God), but he’s not an idiot. He knows the best way to deceive men’s hearts. He knows that few people today actually believe in him, he knows that generally only primitive people still go for the whole possession-thing, but he also knows that he cannot stop his work of perversion and possession lest more people be won to the cause of Christ. So, he’s had to change his tactics a bit. But sin is still sin. Sin always destroys and it always produces behavior that falls short of God’s perfection. Sin always creates abnormal behavior . . . even today.

Let us see if we can think of some contemporary forms of aberrant actions. Hmmm. It doesn’t take long before we realize that our TV’s provides us with the answer. Shows like “Hoarders” and “Obsessed” show us that even unsaved people find certain behaviors awkward. Then there are the plethora of sitcoms and movies that make fun of certain “personality disorders” and “mental illnesses.” The Big Bang Theory and Monk are perfect examples. Of course, we cannot forget the media outlets that treat these disorders like something to be victimized by. Doctor shows, shrink shows, and talk shows cannot stop talking about ADHD, ADD, ODD, OCD, schizophrenia, phobias, and the eating disorders plaguing our society. But what do all of these shows have in common? Regardless of what the cure is, regardless of whether or not we think it’s funny or scary, the vast majority of people in America agree that these individuals are exhibiting aberrant, abnormal, and/or anomalous behavior.

Before I continue, let me say again that not every disease is a product of demon possession, so I must be careful being too dogmatic about every case. But being a counselor, I do know that the medical community has absolutely no empirical evidence to diagnose someone as having a “mental illness” beyond simply observing the patient’s behavior. There are no blood tests, brain scans, or urine samples that can help us detect a “mental illness.” But that is no excuse. To blithely label a behavior as the symptom of an otherwise improvable “disease” is foolish at best. At worst, it betrays the fact that unsaved men and women deny the existence of the spiritual. Therefore, even though they don’t understand it, they reason there must be some physiological reason behind the abnormal behavior. Unfortunately for them, just because you ignore the spiritual doesn’t make it disappear. Neither does medicating the physical.

Satan does exist. His demons still work in the lives of men today. Sin and Satan always produce destructive, aberrant behavior. Ladies and gentlemen, we are left with the profound conclusion that demon possession (and at least the effects of sin in general) are at the basis of every self-destructive and deviant behavior known to man.

So what do we do? We know that Satan is trying to tear us apart like a famished lion. We know that his henchmen are actively working in the lives of people all around us. In fact, demons may well be at work within the four walls of our own homes. If doctors can’t “cure” us, what do we do?

We take back the Bible! We choose to believe every line of God’s Word! We must accept that there are answers for all of life’s questions and trials within the pages of the holy Scriptures. We must take It back from those who would have us believe it’s not applicable and outdated. We must stand firmly on It’s promises and search it diligently for It’s answers.

This post and The New Me: Part 6 are the grand introduction for this site. My ministry this fall is going to make conversations like these a daily occurrence. By God’s grace I will be helping others wrestle with life-changing truths from God’s Word, and I want this site to be an off-shoot of that. I hope you will continue with me in this endeavor. There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors when those counselors take God’s truth and apply it to our lives.

A Quick Note Concerning a Piece of Wood

I received my 5 year plaque this evening at the high school graduation. It was nice, but the real significance for me is not the piece of wood with a professional engraving; the excitement I’ve been attempting to encapsulate over the past few posts has everything to do with experiences and opportunities God has graced me with in the past 5 years. I’ve been treasuring them in my heart as Mary treasured the Angel’s words, and now I desire greatly to share them with you.

I will be posting my final update in this “The New Me” series in a short while. First of all, this final post will not be a conclusion to the past five years, but one more amazing open door to start off the next five (or however many God has planned for me here). I cannot wait to share it with you! Second, I have far more important things to write about. We need to seriously get to return to taking back the Bible. :-) But as Part 6 of “The New Me” and the revival of this blog are so closely related . . . they must go hand in hand.

So check out all of “The New Me,” revel in the amazing grace of God that would take a sinful man and allow Him to be a channel for divine truth, and partner with me as I step out in faith on this new leg of my journey. I want so badly to walk with you as I dig deeper into what it means to be a believer. I hope you will come with me.

Always,
Aaron

Part 1

Part 2 – Theater with a Difference

Part 3 – Day Camp

Part 4 – A Christian Ninja

Part 5 – Student Leaders

Part 6 – The Counselor

The New Me: Part 5, “Student Leaders”

Welcome to Part 5 of The New Me. Get caught up on the rest of the story! Click to view Part 1, Part 2Part 3 & Part 4.

Two years had passed since I taught my first 6th grade class as SCS. But it was time to say goodbye to elementary. I found out over the summer that I would be moving up to the secondary level. I know not everyone agrees with me, but I love working with older kids. I find their reasoning skills are more defined, and they don’t always take everything at face value. If you’re not 100% genuine with them . . . they see it. I also have a burden for them because their level of independence is catching up with their decision-making abilities. If they do not have a firm foundation in God’s truth, they will flounder and fall once the world is turned loose on them. Side Note: You’re not turning your kids loose on the world. You’re sending them out into the battlefield. I guarantee you the Army didn’t send a bunch of new recruits to storm Osama Bin Laden’s bunker. The commanding officers knew the enemy would destroy them. So why do we send off our unprepared young people into the world as if the world is the one who should watch out?! But I digress.

My new semester lineup included JH Bible, JH Speech, 9th grade English, 11th grade Economics, SH Speech, and Yearbook. I also took on the upcoming 9th grade homeroom. As the year progressed I was reminded every day why I love my job. I had the opportunity to take things like diagramming sentences, Jevon’s principle of diminishing marginal utility, and proper voice projection and apply it directly to my students’ lives. God’s Word came alive in discussions of friendship, moral tone, insatiability, and persuasion. Side Note: If you can’t find God in the mundane, you will struggle to find Him anywhere.

This continued for 3 years, and every summer my school room became a camp ground. But during second semester of my 5th year (3rd year teaching high school), the Lord provided me with a new challenge. Our school, like every other, is full of sinners (we teachers are included). But for the most part, the teachers are the ones pointing the way up the path of righteousness, and there are always a core of students who want nothing to do with it. In fact, they are setting up neon signs pointing down the opposite way. Human nature being what it is, who do the fence-sitting students want to be like? Do they want to emulate their teachers . . . or their friends? So, every day the students become more like each other in the giant cookie-cutter factory. Of course, you’re wondering “What about those kids who genuinely love the Lord and want to serve Him?” I have two questions for you: 1. Where you that kid? 2. How were you treated? I think we adults become senile a lot earlier than we believe when we allow ourselves to think that the scorners in our schools aren’t tearing down our kids left, right, and center. Once again, let’s use the Army metaphor. These new recruits know they want to serve their country, but they have no idea how to fight. If the enemy infiltrates the ranks, there is little hope.

So, how do you help the problem? Train the soldiers with a sense of urgency! I had the idea to start developing student leaders by instituting a Student Body Council program. We had a quasi-student leadership program before but it had deteriorated into a popularity contest between which heathen and which pagan had the most friends. Side Note: If your students leaders aren’t outspoken testimonies for Christ . . . they shouldn’t be student leaders.

Please don’t misunderstand me. No one is perfect. I have seen my fair share of college Prayer Captains, high school Student Body Presidents, and (dare I say) church pastors do one thing or another to disqualify them from their position. But that doesn’t mean we throw the baby out with the proverbial bath water. I say, “No!” We don’t give up discipling because we know they’ll never be perfect!

My plan behind the SBC was four-fold: 1. Give the students visible and productive roles within the school in order to be a good example. 2. Allow the students to suggest and even enact change that would help our school conform to God’s will for us. 3. To teach the students how to handle themselves like adults. Teach them to run meetings, vote, brain-storm, and produce a quality product without being harassed or cajoled by an authority figure. 4. Disciple them. I desired to use this council as an opportunity to find those God-loving young people and work with them one-on-one to become true leaders for Christ.

The student body was started and I have to say that our first experimental semester went very well, and I am looking forward to next year’s council. I’m also excited about some of the SBC’s summer projects!

But this service opportunity quickly shot off another tendril of service opportunities. Side Note: Do what God calls you to do and watch the opportunities multiply! I can’t actually remember how I got it into my head, but I was inspired in part by a friend. Yohannan Lee works at SCS in the kitchen, but he also is a tremendous help to me when it comes to Yearbook. Yo, is a gifted photographer and graphic designer. He created five of our Yearbook covers, takes tons of photos, Photoshops them all, and loves every minute of it. He is also a videographer. It just so happens that photography, graphic design, and videography are some of my passions as well.

Before long he and I created Student Body Films to function as our production company. We also founded Three Hands Studios to handle the technical side. In that first semester the Lord allowed us to produce the following projects and start our own YouTube channel.

The first was delivered by our Student Body President as a way to introduce the new SBC and to tell the student body a little bit about how she viewed her school

The second was just for fun. Our basketball teams were both competing in the Illinois state IACS competition and we wanted to liven things up a bit.

Our third and longest project was designed to help our junior highers as they prepared for the state fine arts tournament.

The final finished project promoted our school play, Anne of Green Gables.

The overall goal is to help the student leaders have an impact far beyond the four wall of their school. We want to show the other students that they can make a difference for Christ if they just try. So far these few videos have been watched over 2,500 in over 20 countries. Next fall we will focus on more educational and spiritual projects as well as the occasional entertaining film.

Side Note: Never be ambitious for power and glory. But don’t pass on opportunities to widen your circle of influence. When He was bodily on earth, Jesus had hundreds of disciples, 12 apostles, 3 in His inner circle, and 1 who was considered the closest to Him (note that I did not say favorite). You don’t have to be intimate with everyone, but if you can write a book, keep up a blog, post videos on YouTube, or preach to people who most individuals will never have the chance to meet . . . then do it!

Pray for our student leaders. If God can capture their hearts and train them to serve Him with all of their minds, bodies, and strength they will be a powerful enemy against Satan and his destructive purposes. Train up the children!

The New Me: Part 4, “A Christian Ninja”

The first year I was at Bethel Baptist Church my responsibilities seemed to change with the seasons. Actually, “change” isn’t the right word. Perhaps the best word is “grew.” Fall ’07: 6th grade teacher. Summer ’08: 6th grade teacher and Camp Director. Fall ’08: 6th grade teacher and Camp Director and Martial Arts Instructor.

I started training in Tang Soo Do in 1992. I earned my first black belt in ’98. This year (2012) marked my 20th year in the martial arts. I’ve been teaching for 17 years, I’ve studied 10 different styles, and I’ve earned black belts in 3 of those styles. I am currently working toward my 5th degree in Tiger Ryu Ninjutsu. SCS knew all about my training, and we talked briefly when I was hired about the possibility of starting a program. I didn’t think it would happen for a loooooong while. Seriously, what Christian school has their own karate program? As Day Camp wound down and my second year of teaching grew near, one of the pastoral staff members got it in his head that I needed to start a martial arts program that fall! By God’s grace, in one month I went from nothing to a full-on curriculum. During the day I taught my new brood of 6th graders, and after school I ran over to the gym to meet my “little ninjas.” Of course, our curriculum has changed many times over the past years, but I thank the Lord that when my first students walked in the door they were greeted by a no-holds-barred, full-scale martial arts program. Side note: There are some things that don’t need to be prayed about. If there is a need, and God has gifted you in that area . . . fill the need!

I spoke with my pastor and told him I expected about 40 students. God gave me 80. With twice as many students, my wife was able to quit her job and stay home full-time with our son. God also gave me a student who would be intregal in running a successful school. She was brand new to the martial arts, but she wanted to earn her black belt in two years (she was a junior and would be graduating and going off to college). I told her that it was possible, but that I would have to ninja-kick her all the way. She said she was up for it. Two years later she earned her black belt and made a successful assistant instructor along the way (otherwise it was just me and 80 students!). I am very proud of Madelyn and her martial arts career.

The best thing about the program is that I can unashamedly preach God’s Word during the classes. We meet in a beautiful room off the school’s running track and everyone knows that we are as Christian as the church. In fact, it’s not simply a karate class, it is a Leadership Program. My students know that they are there to learn how to protect themselves and the ones they love from physical and spiritual harm. I have seen many young people develop and mature as they learn to discipline their minds, bodies, and souls. Side Note: If you’re not teaching God in all you teach, you’re teaching a world that works without God. When you do that . . . you lie.

Every year I have had more students than I can handle, and every year God allows the program to mature. One of the reasons I consider myself to be so blessed is that God has given me a place to serve that allows me to utilize the various passions I have. God allowed me to have many unique experiences growing up in order to make me the man He wanted me to be. Now He’s given me an outlet and said, “It’s time to start using those skills I gave you.”

Just one calendar year later and I found myself loving my job and basking in the glory that was serving God.

Amazingly enough, He had even more changes and opportunities for service already prepared for me. Stay tuned to Part 5.

If you missed Part 1, Part 2,or Part 3 of The New Me. Just click away!