The Final Anthem
For the final evening, I wanted to take you on an imaginary trip. But though our trip is imaginary, I want to help you envision something that's REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN. A place that the Word of God tells us most all of us will personally experience.
This place I'm taking us in our imagination tonight…it's the place the Holy Spirit often brings to MY mind when I get tired, when I find myself fighting discouragement or when I need to remind myself of the WORTH of this spiritual journey I've enlisted myself in. It's also where I go in my head when I see other Christians who seem pretty disengaged...sometimes even pretty flakey. I mean, lots of great folks don't seem to play by some of the same spiritual ballgame rules Jesus seems to ask of me.
At moments like that, Jesus reminds me of this place. No, it's not the Great White Throne of Judgment. Instead, the place I want to take you in this NYLC15 resource is THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST. It's the SECOND eternal judgment in Heaven...the one only CHRISTIANS will take part in. But I rarely hear anyone talk about it. So let's make a run at it, our final night at NYLC 2015...an imaginary glimpse at YOUR coming moment before The Judgment Seat of Christ. WELCOME, MY FRIENDS, TO YOUR "FINAL ANTHEM."
When I started in youth ministry, I had about 20 kids in the youth group. My idea of success? A night together in youth service where Jesus showed up, kids laughed together and prayed together, and maybe even a new kid or so excitedly decided to give their life to Christ. I mean, back in 1970, that was my idea of a mind-blowing YOUTH MINISTRY SUCCESS.
It took only about three short months to start adding stuff to that original equation. Remember those 20 kids? Well, pretty soon, "real success" needed to include having about 30 kids show up! And somewhere through those opening, exciting months, something NEW to me was "born" in my life and head. It was small and almost a little "cuddly" at the beginning. Kind of like a friendly little "stuffed animal" from my past. But on closer examination, it wasn't that innocent and it sure wasn't that "cuddly." I had given birth to a small, not-too-scary-looking DRAGON.
So my prayerful goal for this message is to remind all of us that the "DRAGON OF SUCCESS" is maybe one of the most ferocious enemies ANY of us will ever face in our own minds...but we'll ALL face him...whether we're the "lead person" on the team, an amazing volunteer assistant, or just a career-orientated person who's just trying to get ahead on the job-site.
I'm LIVING, TRANSPARENT, VULNERABLE PROOF that THE DRAGON OF SUCCESS can hang around for a pretty long time. The point I'm trying to make is that probably all of us have VARIATIONS of this "Dragon" that Jesus and His love wants to slay – dragons that are fed by our insecurities, our fears, our needs for approval and acceptance.
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"These are they who have turned the world upside down!" Acts 17:6. The early Christians weren't always "NICE"...they were RIGHTEOUS! They weren't always POLITICALLY CORRECT...they were often RADICAL! God is still looking today for RADICAL, RIGHTEOUS REVOLUTIONARIES...to reach out to a generation of RADICAL, UNRIGHTEOUS REVOLUTIONARIES!
In this month's Source, "The Reckless Ones," I'm sharing from the book of Acts what it truly means to be God's kind of reckless. In this resource, I give four principles to become the kind of person who "turns the world upside down" in God's kind of way. It's a great topic to help your students go to the next level in their personal relationships and heart after God.
Ever wondered what your reflection would look like if Jesus took a big mirror and held it in front of you? Sounds kind of scary, huh? We're taking a peek into our past and a good hard look at our present and future. We want to celebrate past victories, reflect on where the Lord has taken us and remind ourselves of what God sees when He looks at our reflection.
Pain is a harsh reality and one that we are all too familiar with. We want to discuss how to keep pain from ruining your present and your future and how to use it to further your ministry. Your student's pain may stem from unfair and uncontrollable circumstances, but their attitude towards their situations will determine their future. Let these skits, notes and your own personal reflections be a guide to their healing and to help them see that their reflection is beautiful.
Always reflecting in His mirror,
In this Source we hope to provide you and your students with a diagnosis and cure for what we're calling "Spiritual Schizophrenia." Have you ever suffered from it? I know I have. I know Peter and Judas did as well.
"Spiritual Schizophrenia" is an illness where you struggle making your "spiritual world" match your "everyday world." While the Enemy would love for you to think it's a fatal disease, it's not. There is hope. The game is not over. Together, let's uncover the symptoms, causes and cure for this dreaded disease.
So grab a cup of coffee and a tissue. In this Source not only will you laugh a little, but you might cry a little as well. If I haven't said it in awhile, thanks for letting me be a part of your life my friend.
I don't think there is anybody in youth ministry, or a Christian for that matter, that starts out wanting to be a person of mere image. None of us start out that way. Sadly, the reality is that after over 40 years of youth ministry, I can think of name after name that somehow along the line became more of an image manager than someone who pursued an authentic lifestyle.
We all deal with this battle everyday. We are faced with little choices that challenge our character and question our authenticity. It is so easy to focus on our "public self" before we deal with private self issues. Listen in as we evaluate Image Management vs Authentic Living.
Still committed to being authentic,
In this Source you will hear me address my youth in Oxygen with a totally different feel than what you have normally come to expect. So often we focus on the encouragement and love of Christ, which is key and very needed. But there are those nights when we call our students to a deeper level of commitment, Christian or not. This was one of those nights and it was a powerful night of self-evaluation for us all.
The focus is taken from the story of Belshazzar and the word of the Lord that came to him, "You have been weighed and found wanting." Wow, what powerful words right before his life was required of him! Join us on this night called "Weighed And Wanting" and then challenge your students to not be found wanting.
Seeking to finish strong,
Note: Because of the dramatic tone of this message, Fill-Ins were not used and are not included with this Source.
Richard Crisco is the Senior Pastor of Rochester First Church and was the former Youth Pastor during the Brownsville Revival. In this Super Session, Pastor Richard states that "The problem with the American Christian today is that we are more American than we are Christian and one of the important values in the Body of Christ we have lost is learning how to honor." In his message, he teaches the importance of honoring our leaders, our students and each other along with ways we can show that honor.
In this session, Richard Crisco, the Senior Pastor of Rochester First Church and the former Youth Pastor during the Brownsville Revival, challenges us to have a Spirit Led Youth Ministry. It doesn't matter how good of a preacher you are, you're not going to change one kid's life with your messages. It was an encounter with God that changed your life, not a good message, song, or drama and if we offer anything less to our teenagers, we are cheating them. The only thing that distinguishes ministry from the club down the street, is the Presence of God and if He doesn't show up, we've wasted our time.
Today's youth culture often lives by the mantra, "If it feels good, do it!" But we all know that being led by our feelings is a ticket to spiritual disaster. That's why this Source is so strategic. I've entitled it, "When The Goosebumps Fade." The focus is trying to help the students in our youth church to walk consistently with the Lord, no matter what they might or might not be feeling.
You'll also appreciate one of the key stories I've included, "Three Praying Men." It's been huge in my own personal life as I've tried to pursue the Lord with consistency, no matter how I felt. And just in case no one has told you lately, you really are making a difference in the lives of your teenagers...no matter how YOU might feel.
Loving you whether you're FEELING IT or not,
"Lie To Me" is one of the most intriguing TV series ever written. Have you seen it? It's built around Paul Ekman, a world renowned face reading expert, who analyzes micro-expressions to reveal the truth. Not unlike reality, the premise of the show is that truth is most accurately revealed from the inside out. Though the God we serve doesn't read our face, He does read our heart and wants us to examine it as well.
While one of the most powerful truths we can ever know is the internal truth about ourselves, even David, the man after God's own heart, knew how easy it was to lie to ourselves. In Psalm 139:23-24, he asks "Search me, God, and know my heart. Test me, and know my ways. See if there is any wickedness left inside me." That's one dangerous prayer! But he was painfully aware that if we fail to face our "true" selves internally, we risk spiritual devastation that is sure to be evidenced externally whenever life gives us a "bump."
So in this Source, we challenge students to spend time discovering the spiritual truth of who they really are. In particular, to honestly answer the question, "Am I becoming more and more like Jesus?" The heart of the Father says to all of us "Don't lie to Me" but perhaps, as important, "Don't lie to yourself." When we understand who we "truly" are, it enables us to "truly" change!