Can I Tell You A Story?

Can I tell you a story?

That line probably got your interest. We like stories. We like to tell stories: stories about our grandkids, stories about our pets, stories about what happened on the way to work. Science has even shown that our brains react differently (more alertly) when listening to a story.

Stories work.

That’s the premise behind Steve Ridgell’s book Can I Tell You A Story? Steve takes the ideas that he has shared for years in his “Sharing Our Story” seminars and puts them down in book form. Not surprisingly, stories make up a significant part of the book.

Besides the book and seminars, Steve has also successfully used stories for years to teach people about Jesus, to counsel hurting Christians, and to encourage and edify the church. In the book, he teaches how to use stories to engage non-believers in discussions about the Bible, how to address the need for change in a non-confrontational way, how to enable new believers to share their faith with others.

Full disclosure: Steve is a colleague of mine at Hope For Life/Herald of Truth. We’ve written 3 books together (I let him go solo this time). In this book, Steve draws on many of the stories told in video on our HopeForLife.org website. 21st Century Christian has taken those videos, along with commentary from Steve, and put them into DVD form: Can I Show You A Story?

I encourage you to get Steve’s book and read it. I’d also encourage you to think about having Steve come to your church for a seminar. His stories can create new stories for the people of your congregation.

Click on the image below to read a sample from Steve’s book:

Sample Pages

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book, but was not asked to write this review nor do I receive financial compensation for any books or DVDs purchased.

Links to Go (August 1, 2014)

To the Christian Teacher in a Public School

But when I get completely worked up over laws and rights, I feel the gentle push of the Holy Spirit saying this to me: “When was the last time you were this sad over the fact that some kids never have clean clothes on? Were you this upset when the boy in time out over there didn’t come to school because no one got up to get him dressed and on the bus? Are you this passionate when the same child just doesn’t get it no matter how much you teach?”


3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church

It’s hard to sort through the various reports and find the real story. And there is no one easy solution for bringing all of those “lost” kids back into the church, other than continuing to pray for them and speaking the gospel into their lives. However, we can all look at the 20-somethings in our churches who are engaged and involved in ministry. What is it that sets apart the kids who stay in the church? Here are just a few observations I have made about such kids, with a few applications for those of us serving in youth ministry.


Why join a church? (This generation of Christians wants to know.)

The culture which sees no point in “a piece of paper” to make a marriage official just as easily dismisses the notion of Christians actually joining a church.
Can we talk about that?
A husband and wife who were regular worshipers with my church, but never actually joined and became members, would sign their Christmas card, “Your common law members.”
A lot of churches are trying to build their ministries on “common law” members. These people attend, profess a love for Jesus, and say they believe His word, but they make no commitment to the body of believers and put themselves under the authority of no leaders. They are free to come and go without being accountable to anyone.
Dating churches is all the rage these days.


The secret to great presentations: it’s not about the software

I’ve sat through countless dull PowerPoint and Keynote presentations. And I’ll admit that some of my own have been snoozers, too. Based on my observations of presentations by others, and on feedback I’ve received about my own, I’d like to share one simple tip for making your presentations better: Don’t focus on your presentation software.
You read that right: In some of the most successful presentations I’ve seen, I barely noticed what was on the screen. If your audience leaves feeling informed, inspired, or entertained, you’ve done a better job than if they leave talking about your fancy 3D effects.


Sniffer dog warning sends Australian jet passengers on a rush to flush

Australian budget airline Jetstar apologized on Wednesday after a crew member told passengers on a flight from the Gold Coast tourist strip, including some returning from a popular music festival, to flush away “anything you shouldn’t have”.
The warning from the flight attendant that sniffer dogs and quarantine officers were on standby in Sydney prompted a rush to the plane’s toilets, News Ltd reported.


Do Not Be Afraid

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A Facebook group that I’m part of, called Compadres, is having a blog tour. The general theme is The Glory of The Son and each of us will pick a story, event or teaching of Jesus that reflects His glory. Here are the posts so far:
June 3: Jeremy Schopper: Leaving the Noise Behind
June 5: Danny Holman: Jesus Challenge
June 10: Carl Jenkins: Give A Man A Fish
June 17: Jonathan Dobbs: Why Me, God?
June 19: Scott Elliott:The Beauty of the Gospel
June 24: Chris Hodges: The Glory of the Son
June 26: David Smith: then they can see my glory, which you gave me
July 1: Jeremy Hoover: Matthew and Mission
July 3: Allen Carr: The Glory in the Welcome
July 10: Daniel Burns: Not So With You
July 15: Rex Butts: A Place For Lepers
July 22: Jennifer Rundlett: A Vision of Harmony
July 24: Don Middleton: Come To The Table
July 29: Tim Archer: Do Not Be Afraid

Did you notice that last name and date on the list? (last for now… more to come) Yep, I forgot to make my contribution to the blog tour! So here it is, a couple of days late:

Do Not Be Afraid

“On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:10–18)

John knew Jesus well. John formed part of the inner circle of disciples, along with Peter and James; these three participated in Jesus’ ministry in a way that no one else did. Yet now, when John sees Jesus again, he faints.

This was the glorified Christ, the Risen One in all of his glory. The description is bathed in Old Testament imagery, filled with symbolism of prophetic authority and messianic identity. But what really catches my attention are Jesus’ words:

  • Do not be afraid. As we read through the Bible, we see heavenly messengers giving these reassuring words. It’s a scary thing for an earthly being to find himself in the presence of a celestial visitor! But in Revelation, these words have a special meaning.
    Christians were being killed for their faith. John was in prison for his. One of the key phrases in this book is “do not be afraid.” More suffering was to come. More prison. More death. But Christians were to face these things with courage.
  • I am the First and the Last. Jesus wasn’t just another prophet. He was God made flesh, using terms that described God and applying them to himself.
  • I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! Christians needed to remember that Jesus had the perfect résumé to be able to talk to others about not fearing death. His was not mere theoretical knowledge. He had been there and back.
  • And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Jesus didn’t just die; he stripped death of its power. Christians could face death with confidence; Jesus had entered the realm of the dead and emerged with the keys. He had promised that the gates of Hades would not overcome his church. How could they when he held the keys to those very gates?

The resurrection of Jesus changed history. Not just as something in the past nor something to wait for. The resurrections transforms our living today. We don’t have to fear earthly powers. We needn’t be concerned about those who can only threaten our lives. We face death with our heads held high, knowing that our Lord has forever conquered.

Do not be afraid.

Links to Go (July 31, 2014)

God is NOT good!

I am sure he must have told me God was not good and God hates most everybody at other times, before this Sunday. But this was the Sunday I finally remembered what he said; and I believed him; probably because during the week before this particular Sunday, my father was so hateful and mean to my mother, and to me and to my brothers and sisters … again. And I felt scared and alone, and I finally despaired! I think something happened in my soul the day I started believing my father. And it happened because of the way little kid’s hearts are wired. For some reason children tie their view of God in with their view of their parents, sad to say. It occurs to me now that the day I believed God was not good was the day I realized my dad was not.


Why We Love the Amish

So I suppose the most fascinating thing of all about the Amish is that they still exist. When they first came to national attention in the early twentieth century, prognosticators gave them a generation or two before they were gone. They thrived. When they received close study in the middle of the century, sociologists and anthropologists once again decreed that they would soon surrender to the world around them. They grew. And as the technological distance between them and us deepens and widens, they seem to be thriving all the more. Their very existence is a marvel; their practices are a challenge. We love the Amish because, in some ways, we long to be the Amish.


The Parable of the Lawn Mower

Now: what have my actions preached to him? They have preached that Christians are people who do good things for their neighbour. They have preached that niceness, and kindness, and morally upright behaviour are what make you a Christian. In short, they have preached justification by works.


Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island

The Immigration Act of 1907 did indeed declare that unaccompanied children under 16 were not permitted to enter in the normal fashion. But it didn’t send them packing, either. Instead, the act set up a system in which unaccompanied children—many of whom were orphans—were kept in detention awaiting a special inquiry with immigration inspectors to determine their fate. At these hearings, local missionaries, synagogues, immigrant aid societies, and private citizens would often step in and offer to take guardianship of the child, says Moreno.


Most Americans See Unaccompanied Immigrant Kids As Refugees, Poll Says

Across political leanings and religious backgrounds, most Americans believe the recent influx of immigrant children should be treated like refugees if authorities think they cannot be returned home safely rather than face immediate deportation, according to the poll by the Public Religion Research Institute.


Wikipedia’s Edit Wars — and the 8 Religious Pages People Can’t Stop Editing

Using Wikipedia’s rules, Carter says, religion can be difficult to independently verify, especially when there’s a range of opinions about what events took place and what they mean.
“No one has any real evidence that Jesus rose from the dead or not — how do you give the various opinions balanced coverage? And was he God, or a god, or something else?” Carter said. “Even nominal Christians disagree on those and several other significant topics.”


The Beta Marriage: How Millennials Approach ‘I Do’

Buried in the data was the revelation that almost half of millennials (43%, and higher among the youngest subset) said they would support a marriage model that involved a two-year trial — at which point the union could be either formalized or dissolved, no divorce or paperwork required. Thirty-three percent said they’d be open to trying what researchers dubbed the “real estate” approach — marriage licenses granted on a five-, seven-, 10- or 30-year ARM, after which the terms must be renegotiated. And 21% said they’d give the “presidential” method a try, whereby marriage vows last for four years but after eight you can elect to choose a new partner.


33 Pictures Taken At The Right Moment

The internet is abound with images shared by people who have captured images at just the right moment or from just the right perspective, so we wanted to share some more of them with you.
Anyone with a smart phone, point-and-click camera, DSLR or any other sort of camera can potentially capture such a moment – whether it’s staged or spontaneous.


How missions trips are like Undercover Boss

Money in handI like the show Undercover Boss. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a “reality” show based on an executive in a company assuming a disguise and going to work at different jobs within the company. At the end of the show, the boss reveals himself to the people he’s been working with. In most cases, the boss gives impressive gifts and bonuses to the employees in a tear-jerking finale.

In almost every episode, the boss is overwhelmed by the people he meets. They seem like the best workers (or the worst, in rare exceptions). Their needs seem greater, their stories more dramatic. They’ve overcome obstacles and challenges to loyally serve the company.

And you ask yourself: why these employees? Aren’t there hundreds of others with similar stories? Greater needs? More outstanding work? The boss changes the lives of a few that he meets in the course of this show.

Mission trips are a bit like that. We go, and we’re overwhelmed by what we see. The Christians in the other place must be the hardest working Christians on earth. Their work must be the most challenging, yet most rewarding. Their needs are great, yet we can often step in and meet those needs.

And others say: why them? Why that place? Why that need and not this other one?

This is really meant as more observation than criticism. Go. See the works. See the needs. Help where you can. But recognize that what you are seeing is part of God’s work in this world, not the sum of it. Don’t come home telling everyone that all mission funds should go to Mongolia or Ushuaia or Tasmania. Don’t imply that your trip was so much more important than that of someone else.

Don’t try and be the Undercover Boss.

Image courtesy of MorgueFile.com