Level II – Feb 2016

Welcome

This month we welcome Rhome Smith and Sean Soltero (Central FL Men’s) to the Level II!. Both leaders are graduates of Teen Challenge and TCIMI. Welcome guys! The Lord will grow your leadership and ask you to come up higher. Looking forward to walk this journey with you.

Core Courses

We are studying the course Practical Christianity and our text: Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald.

The values of our Western culture inclines us to believe that the busy, publicly-active person in ministry is also the most spiritual.  This course will guide you through practical spiritual disciplines which will assist in facing the daily challenges of being a disciple of Christ.  Topics include: prayer, journaling, and being a good steward of time and resources.  This course will help you draw attention to the difference between “knowing truth” and “living truth.” Print and fill-in your study guide as you go through the chapters. This will be graded at the end of the course.

Your first post will be up on the forum Monday, February 15th. You’ll make an initial post and respond to someone’s post.

Bridge Builders – Withstanding the Currents

Teen Challenge’s chances of dissolving and drifting from our mission is only to the degree that we hold fast to God and His Word.  If we forsake our commitment to Christ, and demote the Bible to just another book among many, our chances for straying will be great. The issues discussed here may not seem to be a huge threat right now, but that is because the cultural currents that can cause us to drift are subtle and take place over time, not quickly. But, when bridges collapse, casualties are extremely high. When floatingI-35W-rescue-Minneapolis-20070801 in the ocean, you never know how far you’ve drifted until you look up! We do not fight currents alone. God is fighting for us. We are not called to force others to believe what we believe. We are not called to be theological police to the World, and to try and even change the world through natural means. We are called to serve and obey God, and HE will open the doors of influence for us when He sees fit. We aren’t going to make every senator and government official a Christian and get them to implement Christian laws. Satan knows this. Win Souls not arguments! Help people think rightly but know that no one has ever been argued into the kingdom! Endurance will be key in withstanding the currents! There are 2 types of Currents: External and Internal. External currents from the world, when they infiltrate through the gates of the church, create an internal current that only leaders committed to true sound teaching can endure. The best way to withstand the current is to grow.

External Current

Post-modernism

Post-modernism says that truth is relative; what is true for me may not be true for you. We don’t fight a neutral enemy. We see today people killing Christians and Christians are targeted to conform. Postmodernism is seen anywhere where Christianity is subjectively judged and made to look ignorant and close-minded. As if no one who is intelligent would be a Christian.  The Satan-influenced world is on the offensive, not the neutral, make no mistake. Christian organizations like us have been and will continue to be intentionally targeted to conform, but we must not (Matt 10:16). This scripture will be key to navigating in our culture. We must ask for wisdom and bathe our leaders in prayer for the wisdom of God to guide them. Post-modernism says the human race is beyond the archaic age of Christianity but Paul encourages the Church against the post-modernism of the day “for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” Romans 1:18-20.

“We are facing a very real crisis of critical thought among today’s youth. Our secular culture increasingly favors a growing multiculturalism that affirms a uniform tolerance of all worldviews while simultaneously opposing a firm commitment to any one belief. Many young people believe that all religions are basically the same. Consequently, many young men and women cannot articulate their own faith.” ~ RZIM

Withstanding the current of post-modernism will take the absolute truth of Jesus Christ. Be careful of watching too much news which is designed to strike fear in the hearts of the believer. Is our stance on what the news say or what the Word says? We, Christians, know how the story ends. If you are consumed with the news you will end up going by Fox news and not the Good News. Guard your heart. The Gospel is the answer to the world and the Church; strength and grace to the Church and hope to the world.

Cheap Relationships due to hyper-socialization

We are managing and multi-tasking at a level of relationships we weren’t supposed to social-media-keeps-youngmanage. We were not created to manage these relationships with so many people. The current of cheap relationships that is facing us will make it very difficult to bestow the DNA of TC on Gen-next because of the technological age. Hyper-socialization will create cheap relationships. Weak relationships create weak conduits for influence. We must have stronger relationships. Time and effort is the only ways to create and sustain relationships. We live in a culture of short cut where we want everything fast and convenient. Teen Challenge must be a conduit of quality discipleship through quality relationships. If all we have is microwave-relationships and poor social skills we have microwave discipleship. The younger generation must humble ourselves to receive from the older generation. Discipline yourself to do face to face communication. Call instead of text, meet someone instead of texting.

Internal Current

Hyper-sensitivity

Our society have become excessively sensitive and as Christians we don’t want to offend people. From this hyper-sensitivity, sometimes we can pervert Christ into something that isn’t Christ to try and make Him “relevant”.  If we are afraid to tell people they are in sin then we give them a wrong impression of Jesus. Are we giving people Good News or just news? Hyper-sensitivity makes it difficult for evangelism to happen. We need to preach what the Word says not just the fluffy parts to make people feel good. Keep your eyes on Christ when you are made to look like an idiot and irrelevant as a Christian. Don’t change Jesus around to look good for everyone else.

Biblical Compromise

We compromise the truth of God’s Word because we want to be politically correct. We accept standards that are lower than what our Father desires. One sure way to be stronger and move forward is in the depths of God’s Word. How we minister God’s Word in mentoring, PSNC, GSNC – we must be experts on how people’s beliefs effect their behavior. Why do so many of our graduates relapse? They stop listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. They lack understanding of spiritual authority; trying to do things in their own strength – operate in the flesh in a way that they can’t hear from anyone around them. If we do things as God wants us to, we’ll have God’s blessings in our lives. As Teen Challenge staff and students we must grow stronger in integrity; be people of the heart and of the head. If we are to withstand this current we must grow stronger in biblical integrity and sound theology 1John1:1-3. The gospel has been handed to us, and we must hand it down to our students in boldness and the Spirit’s power!

Religion (external and internal)

Become a passionate lover and worshipper of God. Do not lose your love and passion for Jesus. Keep it fresh. Spend time with Him in prayer. In the journey is where we thrive. Many times we retreat from our passion and intimacy when placed in leadership position. DO NOT LOSE YOUR PASSION AND EXCITEMENT FOR JESUS! Many times our graduates and leaders look at Christians whose love for Jesus has been replaced by religion; lists of do’s and don’ts. Satan would love nothing more than that you would exchange your true desire to know God and to seek Him (which is harder), and do the easier way – to try and be good. Try and do more good things than you do bad things. This is religion to a ‘T.’ We live in a passive culture where we stand out if we are passionate about something. Never lose your intimacy; becoming a spiritual oasis to others takes a thriving relationship with Jesus. The fear of God and Hope will be key in our witness 1 Peter 3:15. When we have a true love and hope in Christ, people will see it, they will rub up against it, and know something is different. We are the only true carriers of hope in the world.

Conclusion

As Christians and leaders, be vigilant to guard your heart against the effects of the cultural currents that we face! The enemy (world, flesh, devil) will try to take out your heart. If we drop like flies one-by-one, we cannot be united as a whole and withstand the cultural currents we face!

 

Excerpts from ELP Summit 2015 presented by Dan Williams – ELP Rep (Middle GA)

Enrich Culture – A Culture of Love

We continue to focus on our 2nd E in our EFive – Enrich Culture. We want to talk about establishing a culture of love. A culture rich in love is not sin-conscious but love-conscious.   What do the students in Teen Challenge fear the most? Another discipline, failure, punishment.

Love Transforms. A culture of love allows the Holy Spirit to do the work; not the rules. Teen Challenge and the Church, by nature, are very rules-driven. If a student breaks the rules they are punished with the expectation that it will yield a repentant heart. Therefore, our students get accustomed to disciplinary committees, disciplinary boards, disciplinary slips, 1000 lines of Psalm 1 (or whichever scripture speaks to their sins) type of Christianity. When we are so rules-driven (sin-conscious) we debilitate the power of their faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit to work to renew their minds and transform their hearts. Don’t get me wrong, rules are important to have order however, in disciplining students it should not be the first thing the staff runs to. The Apostle Paul in talking with the church in Corinth (who had similar problems of  immorality, idolatry, adultery and divisions) says “if I have all the gifts and do great works, but don’t have love I am nothing” (1 Cor 13, NASB). “Love never gives up, love cares more for others than for self, love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have, love doesn’t strut; doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, takes pleasure in flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end” (1 Cor 13:4-7, TM).  In a culture of love our students are transformed by sitting with Jesus and allowing Him (their true love) to speak to them and  transform their hearts. In this culture, our staff are love-conscious; their motivation in correcting a student is to get them back in relationship with Love (God).  The Holy Spirit does the convicting and we point them to Jesus Christ; the staff have no hidden agendas or selfish ambitions and students know they are loved and we are dedicated to their success.

Love casts out all fear. 1John 4:18 says “there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts 34Collage_PerfectLove1SMout all fear, for fear has to do with punishment and the one who fears is not made perfect in love” (NIV). Fear and the penalty of death (or in TC – dismissal, disgrace and shame) is removed because of their relationship with Love – the Lord Jesus Christ. “As our students grow in love for God and the ability to receive His love, this perfect love drives away and utterly banishes all fear – “fear they’ll not be accepted, fear of not measuring up; fear of being exposed in His presence – there is no fear, or shame in love” (Hughes, Songs of Songs Study, 2014). If we are going to establish a culture of love, we have to “know how to interact with each other in such a way that eliminates the punishment option and the need to control people when they fail” (Silk, 2009, p. 81). “We have to come to the realization He sees and knows all of us and yet loves us completely in spite of our failures and immaturity, for He sees us as perfect and complete through the blood of Jesus” (Hughes, 2014). Paul writes to the Galatians “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  Teach your students to protect and preserve their relationship with Christ. In doing so, the Holy Spirit will do a greater work in their hearts than you or I could ever do. Since then there is therefore no more condemnation in Christ, our students will feel safe to come to us with any problem or sin without fear of being punished, dismissed or put to shame.

Love Liberates. “The New Covenant (NT) is an internal covenant for sons and daughters free_birdwho, because of their new nature, can be trusted with responsibility to govern themselves and have access to the power of self-control through the Holy Spirit” (Silk, 2009, p. 88). These are children of God who are dying to themselves and exercising self-control so that they stay connected to the flow of God’s grace that enables them to live sin-free lives” (Silk). Jesus captivates to liberate.

What is one thing you can change as a leader so you create a culture of love with those you lead? What can you do differently to create a culture of love in your organization?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

~ Gal 5:22 (NASB).