Putting on the Full Armour of God – Part 3

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So how do we prepare to fight? We need three more weapons and one bold proclamation.

The Shield of Faith

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Ephesians 6:16 says, “In addition to this take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Shields are used in many ways in battles; they can be used to defend ourselves at times and they can be used to strike our opponents. In Ephesians Paul describes it as a shield of faith.

Hebrews 12 talks about faith being the substance of things unseen and the evidence of things hoped for. When our faith is sure it can be a powerful ally. When the devil comes to steal our courage and make us change direction out faith can bring steel to our resolve.

 

The Helmet of Salvation

shield of Faith

The next weapon we need is the helmet of salvation. “If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart you will be saved.” Salvation is a sure thing. When you are saved by God in Romans 8 it tells us that “nothing can separate us from the love of God.” There is power in having that reassurance.

This reassurance is simply head knowledge. Knowing the truth from scripture of our own salvation gives us confidence as we enter the battle. If we are constantly worried about losing our own salvation how will we ever convince someone else of theirs?

 

The Sword of the Spirit

sword of the spirit

The final piece of armour we are asked to carry is the sword of the spirit. The sword of the spirit is the bible. God’s word for our lives. Scripture says that gods word is a double edged sword. 2 Timothy says that it is useful for teaching, rebuking and correcting in righteousness. When Jesus was being tempted by the devil he quoted scripture as a way of defending himself.

Scripture can also be used to speak god’s truth into situations. It can be used when the gospel is being mistrusted or maligned. God’s word can bring bold proclamations and peace into hopeless situations. God’s word can bring hope and healing and judgment and condemnation. It is a powerful weapon in the spiritual battle.

 

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Pray

The last thing we are asked to do in this passage is to pray. All throughout scripture and even throughout Jesus’ own life he prays. We are encouraged to pray without ceasing, Jesus even teaches us how to pray in Matthew 6. Prayer is our most important weapon in the spiritual battle that rages all around us.

 

A practical understandable way to put on the full armour of God

To prepare our students for this series we handed out this one page poem that we wrote that simply walks us through a prayer of putting on the full armour of God.

Armour of God Prayer

Feel free to share it with your youth ministry. To further emphasize our desire for our students to take this seriously we built a youtube video so that students could pray through this prayer every morning. Feel free to share it with your students.

 

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Putting on the Full Armour of God – Part 2

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Stand on guard: The weapons of Defense

As we move through Ephesians 6 Paul begins to outline the rest of the armour. I see the first weapons as weapons of Defense and the second weapons as Offense.

I’m not sure if Defense is the right word for it but the first pieces of armour are simply to prepare us for battle and give us the protection we need. A better word might be protection or covering. These are foundational elements to the armour of God.

 

Belt of Truth

First and foremost we have the butility_beltelt of truth. We are to learn God’s truth and bind ourselves with it. In a roman suit of armour the different pieces of armour were actually fastened to the belt to keep everything in place during battle. Your belt was an essential piece of armour. Without it a soldier would be left vulnerable to attacks. The truth of scripture is foundational to your walk with Christ. Make sure that you start with that.

 Facts, Faith, Feeling

Many times when I work with students they struggle to understand if God is truly working in their lives because they don’t feel Him. It’s a common misunderstanding that when Christ is at work in our lives we will somehow know it by the tingling feelings of of joy and peace. We need to look first to the Facts of what God has done and is doing in our lives. We know this to be true because he promised it in his word. Those are the facts. When our feelings are up we will be confident in our salvation, and when our feelings are down we can also be confident in our salvation. That is why the Belt of truth is so important to our faith because it reassures us of the facts that God loves us and died for us.

Breastplate of righteousness

Breastplate.jpgThe breastplate of righteousness protects your heart where God’s word is written by the Holy Spirit.  When we believe in Jesus Christ and accept him as our Saviour and Lord, God credits his righteousness to our account. Then when God looks at us, he doesn’t see our sin and imperfection, he sees Christ’s righteousness. (See Romans 3:22-24 and 4:2-3) It is God’s grace accepted by our faith in Jesus Christ that makes us righteous in God’s eyes. (2 Timothy 1:9 and Ephesians 2:8-10)

It is not our good deeds that save us, but God’s grace. If we are children of God, the result of our salvation and the work of the Holy Spirit in us is good works. In James 2:20-24 we learn that good works and a righteous lifestyle are evidences of true faith, which come after we are saved.

The breastplate of righteousness represents Christ’s righteousness – our holy standing before God – and our changed heart, which results in righteous deeds and righteous living.

Gospel Shoes

Battle BootsThis next piece of armour seems confusing and somewhat silly. What does it mean to have our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace?

I remember as a child trying to stand up in the Vancouver subway. I was falling all over the place while my older brother assumed the 3 point stance that he learned in basketball and he was secure. That’s what this next piece of armour is all about. Standing ready for action because our feet are ready and prepared.

The gospel of peace is the story of Christ’s death and resurrection; it’s a story of hope amidst incredible pain and tragedy. It is our hope and truth that we hold on to in dark times. The gospel story is what the world needs. We are capable of bringing the truth of the gospel to the world. How will we get there? By putting one foot in front of the other? That is why in Isaiah 52:7 it says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings…”

Are your feet prepared to bring the gospel of peace to the world?

As we look at the next set of weapons in the armour of God we need to understand that in order for us to truly enter the battle that rages before us we will need weapons in our arsenal.

A preacher once said, “If you are not planning to fight in the spiritual battle that rages all around you at least carry bullets.” What he meant was arm yourself so that you can help someone else gain victory even if you yourself are not willing to fight.

I believe that whether we like it or not this battle will come to us and we need to be prepared. Last year we had over 100 guests come out to our Activate Arena nights, and we presented Youth Alpha to over 400 students in the Edmonton area. As more students come to know, love and serve Jesus Christ we will have more trouble from our common enemy.

So get prepared and put on the armour of God.

 

A practical understandable way to put on the full armour of God

To prepare our students for this series we handed out this one page poem that we wrote that simply walks us through a prayer of putting on the full armour of God.

Armour of God Prayer

Feel free to share it with your youth ministry. To further emphasize our desire for our students to take this seriously we built a youtube video so that students could pray through this prayer every morning. Feel free to share it with your students.

 

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Putting on the Full Armour of God Part 1

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Ephesians 6:10-20 says,

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

 

Earlier this year our youth ministry studied the armour of God, I’ve decided to include that teaching here.

In the first two verses of this passage there are 3 commands.

1. Be Strong in the Lord.

Many times in ministry and in life we tend to place our trust in ourselves. We put our hope in the things that we know and understand and look to God in the last moments of need.

That’s why Paul tells us first and foremost to be strong in the Lord. It’s a reminder that God is to be our strength. We are to put our trust in him and not in ourselves. How does this work in real life? If you are inviting a friend to come to youth group or church, often we can back out or make excuses for our friends. Instead we should be trusting that God is already preparing that friend and when you ask they will be more inclined to say “Yes” because of the work of the Holy spirit in their life.

2. Put on the Full Armour of God.

We are in a battle. I know it doesn’t really feel like it but the bible tells us that there is an epic battle between good and evil that occurs every day between spiritual forces. We believe that there is a God and he has an enemy. That enemy does not want your friends to know about this, so when we take a stand he gets upset. This is why we need to be prepared for battle. This is what Paul is writing about in this passage.

3. Stand against the devil’s schemes

God has called each of us to be involved in his greater work and purpose here on earth. All of us have ways in which we can serve. If you are serving somewhere in the church you need the armour of God. If you are serving somewhere in your school, you need the armour of God. If you are serving God while being involved on a sports team or helping in the community you need the armour of God. We all need to be prepared to do our part as we help God to do his work here on earth.

 

A practical understandable way to put on the full armour of God

To prepare our students for this series we handed out this one page poem that we wrote that simply walks us through a prayer of putting on the full armour of God.

Armour of God Prayer

Feel free to share it with your youth ministry. To further emphasize our desire for our students to take this seriously we built a youtube video so that students could pray through this prayer every morning. Feel free to share it with your students.

 

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How to compete in a Stand-up Comedy Competition

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The Origin of Chet’s Comedy

I have been listening to comedy for years. I love comedians. I love how comedy disarms an audience and allows people to set aside their lives for a short while. I’ve used jokes or humorous stories in all of my sermons.  In August of 2013 I attended a comedy show at a local comedy club. At the end of the night my friends and I were talking about how, I should try this. That night I went home and emailed every club in Edmonton. I asked for information on their open mic nights. I wanted to at least try it.

The only club to reply was The Comedy Factory. Bob Angelli, the manager of the club told me to show up on September 12 at 8:30 pm and I could have my 5 minutes. Then the fear started… How would I do 5 minutes of StandUp? What if I’m not funny? I had a month to prepare, I wrote jokes, I tried jokes on people. I got generally over prepared and grew confident that I would have a good 5 minute set.

Through a subsequent series of emails Bob informed me that he had actually placed me in an amateur Comedy competition called “So You Think You’re Funny.” Over the course of 5 weeks my set would be competing against 30 other comics. Suddenly, it was real.

I still wasn’t too freaked out because I knew I was up against guys just like me. That is until I sat down in the green room of the Comedy Factory on the night of September 12. I arrived early and was wandering around meeting new people and trying to adjust to these new surroundings. I had never been to this club before. I had never done comedy before. Everything was new to me. As I sat down in the room I was looking around at my competitors. Most people seemed to be around my age… except for this young kid named Ryan. He was in his early 20’s. He looks me right in the eye and says,”I know her” and points at the lady in the room. “I know him,” points at another guy. “I took a comedy class with them.” Pointing to more guys in the room. “and… I’ve seen his act. I haven’t seen you here before, who are you?”

Ryan then went on to explain that they had all been doing amateur comedy for at least 3 years and some of them had been doing comedy for a lot longer than that. As it turns out the competition I entered is used by amateur comedians to jumpstart their professional comedy careers. I was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time. Up go the nerves, up goes the anxiety and I started to tell myself it will be over soon, just do your set and go home.

Chet’s Comedy Debut

I hadn’t really planned on filming it. So my wife actually filmed part of it until her phone informed her that it was full. Luckily though friends of mine had also been filming with their phones. So… I managed to piece together the entire 5 minute set.

In the end, I actually got laughs. I did my five minutes, as you can see, some jokes were great, some jokes not so great. I still have such high hopes for that jetpack joke. When it came time to announce the 3 comedians who would be moving in to the semi finals of the competition they announced 3 of my competitors and then they also said my name. They had decided to send me on to the semis because they thought they saw something in me and would like to see more.

Preparation

Winning is fun, but practice and preparation are not really my thing. Now that I was moving on to the semi finals, and I actually found the whole stand up experience fun, I wanted to do better for the next night. I wrote more jokes. What I mean by that is I actually sat down and wrote out the entire joke. The setup and the punchlines for all my jokes. Why? Because Bob told me to hone my 5 minutes. He told me it needed to be memorized so that it looks spontaneous. So that’s exactly what I did.

I then showed up on Saturday nights for the late show at the Comedy Factory and did my new material. It’s important to try jokes out in front of a real audience. Some of the jokes that I thought were definitely keepers actually turned out to be duds. Even more surprising was that some of the jokes that I liked, but wasn’t really sure about got laughs and even clapping. When you get applause at a comedy show it’s very, very good.

The Semi Finals

A month later, I find myself back at the Comedy Factory. I have more jokes and I am more prepared. I am less stressed and more confident. I honestly believe that this is my last show because I am fairly certain I won’t win the semi-finals and go on so I figure I will go out with a bang.

At the end of the night, when Bob Angelli declares the winners, he announces my name first. Suddenly I find myself in the Finals. The competitive part of me is pumped, but the rest of me is tired… Tired of writing jokes, tired of being stressed about the competition, tired of the whole thing. I was ready to be done, but I was not done.

Back I went to writing jokes, to pulling out jokes that didn’t work, throwing in new ones that might work. Back to the late shows at the Comedy Factory to test out my material. Writing 5 minutes of comedy is, in my opinion, harder then anything I’ve ever done. I can write sermons, songs, seminars… nothing is as difficult as coming up with 5 solid minutes of engaging, funny material.

The Finals

A month after the Semi finals I find myself back at the Comedy Factory. Lots of familiar comedians now. Honestly, I’m not looking to win, I’m just hoping to be worthy of the competition. If these are Edmonton’s best amateur comics then I really have no business being on the same stage as they are.

Ultimately, I didn’t win, but I did get to the final 6 out of 30 comedians. According to Bob Angelli I did very well. He says I have great stage presence and good delivery. I need to work on my timing, and… I need to work on my pauses.

Here is what I mean by that… when the audience laughs or claps… it’s important to let the joke hang in the air… allow the audience to get it, to relate to it. Sometimes the laughs, or applause will grow and then die down. If we jump too quickly into the next joke, it’s called “Stepping on your audience.”

One more thing that I learned… Every comedian in the finals, except for me, brought their best jokes. Every one of them did the same routine for each round of the competition. They have a 5 minute routine that they have crafted over the years and they use that one to compete with. Writing new jokes is important for comedy but delivery is KING, when you are in a comedy competition use your best material every time.

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What is a Next Gen Team Leader?

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I have a new position here at Beulah Alliance Church. I am now the Next Gen Team Leader. Recently, we have been using my new title in communications documents and in my weekend announcements etc. so that people can start to become used to the new title but…

I was asked this weekend by one of our students if I was still his youth pastor. That question kind of stung me because I didn’t realize that my new job title might be confusing for some of our students so I thought I should take a moment to try to clarify my new position here at Beulah.

I am officially the Next Gen Team Leader. This new position was created to bring Children, youth and Young adult ministries together. Ultimately, the point of Next Gen is to build bridges. As we look at the trends present in churches across North America there are clearly some places where our churches are suffering when it comes to bridges from one age based ministry to the next.

One of the places we definitely need to build a bridge is between Youth Ministry and Young adults ministry. According to a Canadian study called Hemorrhaging Faith, “only one in three young people, who attended church as children, still do so today.” Books like Goodbye Generation are pointing to a drop off between Grade 12 and University age students. Clearly, we need a bridge.

The Next Gen team is working on that bridge by building a more focused Young Adults ministry. We limited the span of Young Adults ministry from 18-24 years of age. This way we can target our message and ministry to a very specific age group. Furthermore, we are building a program that has easy entry points and a weekly ministry so that students can join at any time in the year. As we move forward we will also look for ways to allow grade 11 and 12 students to join the young adults ministry periodically so that when it comes time to make the transition there will not be any hesitation because of a lack of knowledge or familiarity with the program.

Another disturbing quote from Hemorrhaging faith says that, “More young people leave the church between childhood and adolescence than between adolescence and young adult years.” This means more and more students are leaving the church before they even step into our youth ministry. There are probably a number of factors involved in this process but as the Next Gen Team analyzes this situation we are considering some new strategies for the future of Beulah. One thing we have seen is that our older elementary kids “feel” too old for our elementary programming but are clearly not ready to participate fully in our weekend services.  Going forward we will be building a more targeted older elementary program for our grades 4 – 6 students. We are also building a specific grade 6 track that allows our students to have both feet in children’s ministry while testing the waters of our Jr Hi youth ministry periodically throughout the year.

The Next Gen Team is all about building bridges. Back to the original question, Yes, I am still a youth pastor here at Beulah Alliance Church and we will still be building a strong youth ministry with Denise Lang, Shari Letts and our incredible staff of volunteer leaders who truly make this ministry what it is today.

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Get your copies of the Youth Alpha Film series NOW!

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The first two episodes of the Youth Alpha film series are available for your viewing and download. I just spent the last hour wandering through the site and previewing the material and I am very excited to introduce our students to this new format for alpha. For those of you who are not sure how to access these videos the process is simple. You start by going to www.alphacanada.org. Once you are there you will need to click on the Alpha for Youth tab. Once you are there you will need to click on the orange button that says register a course.

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Why is this necessary? The youth alpha film series is completely free for you to download, materials, promotions, everything on the site is free. All Alpha Canada needs from you is your course info… Take a few seconds, fill in the info, get the videos. Really simple. At the end of all of the questions is another button that says “I’m done, register my course.”

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Click that and you are done. Now, check your email. Alpha Canada will send you your login info and password. Use those to login again to the Youth Alpha website.

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Once you are in you will see four blue bars… Get ready, get trained, get the talks and get promoting.

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Click on Get the Talks. The bars will move apart revealing a series of 12 thumbnails. One for each episode of the series. At this point only the Life and Jesus episodes are available.

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Click an episode and it will bring up a video player. You can play the movie in the viewer, full screen or you can download the video to your hard drive for viewing later.

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I hope this short tutorial helps you to get access to the new Youth Alpha Film Series videos and I pray that God blesses your ministry as you use this incredible resource in your church and student ministries.

While you are getting that all set up why not check out the first episode…

 

 

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God Qualifies the Disqualified

I recently preached on Ehud the left handed judge. It’s too long for a blog post but I thought it might work if I split it in two. So here is Part 1 of God Qualifies the Disqualified.

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God qualifies the Disqualified.
(Part 1 – History and Context)

Judges 3:12-30 NIV

The struggle that I have in just jumping into this passage is that there is so much history and context contained in this one specific event that if we don’t stop to understand the history and understand the context we miss the beauty contained in what God is doing in the book of Judges.

Let’s take a moment to understand where we’ve been and possibly even where Israel is going. Now, I do not want to go through all of the history but I would like to bring up some of the major events so that we can kind of establish a timeline for this chapter in Israel’s history.

In Genesis 12, we have Abraham. God calls Abraham out of the land of his forefathers to go to the land of Canaan, the promised land, Israel. Here we see God’s desire to give this land to his people. If you move from Genesis 12 you have Isaac, you have Jacob, you have Joseph and his brothers…

Now Joseph, is the one who God establishes in the land of Egypt and through God’s placement of Joseph in Egypt he saves His people, the Israelites, from famine and certain death because they then come to live in the land of Egypt. Now, they live in the land of Egypt for 400 years and become a great nation. A nation of slaves, but a great nation, none the less.

Moving forward into the book of Exodus we have Moses who leads the nation of Israel through the desert to the promised land but… they disobey God and so he sends them back into the desert to wander for 40 years.

As we move to the book of Joshua we see that God has passed the mantle of leadership to Joshua who leads the Israellites into the promised land where they begin a military campaign to establish the land of Canaan as their home.

So Joshua leads these people and they see some success in battle and some defeat but ultimately they do succeed in conquering much of the land of Canaan. In the book of Joshua we see a nation of people who follow God for a time but ultimately they do get tired of fighting, tired of struggling and tired of following God. In the end, they go to Joshua and ask to just be allowed to establish the lands they have already conquered rather then finish the entire campaign.

So we come to this beautiful moment in Joshua 24. Joshua stands before the people and gives them this grand history lesson of all that God has done for them. He challenges them to choose who they will serve and ultimately he makes this dire prediction in Joshua 24:20. He says, “If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.”

A stern warning and a foreshadow of things to come. Which brings us to the book of Judges.

So if we if we look in Judges chapter 1 which is really the conclusion of the book of Joshua, there are a few more descriptions of epic battles and lands being established but the real story shows up in Judges chapter 1:27. This begins a long line of did nots…

Manasseh did not drive out…
Nor did Ephraim drive out…
Neither did Zebulun…
It goes on and on…

So what does God have to say about all this. In chapter 2 the Angel of the Lord declares, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, “I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars. Yet you have disobeyed me… and the angel of the Lord ends with this declaration. “They will become traps for you and their gods will becomes snares  to you.”

The most important thing you need to know about the context of the book of Judges as explained in Joshua chapter 2 is this cycle of obedience and disobedience that happens continually throughout the book. When the people are following God his hand is upon them, but when they turn from him and follow their own ways he raises up another nation to defeat them and they become subject to that nation until God sends a deliverer.

Enter the Judges.

What is a judge?

What is a judge? A judge is neither prophet, priest or king. But he is a leader of the people.

Technically, a Prophet, generally speaks to the people FOR God. He is Gods voice to the people. In Lord of the Rings terminology a prophet is kind of like the Gandalf character. Kind of crazy, got cool powers, kind of wanders around proclaiming things and selling fireworks.

A priest in a way kind of represents the people to God. Similar to a prophet and yet very different.

A King is someone appointed by God to rule over the people.

Whereas a Judge is more like the Aragorn/ Strider character in the Lord of the Rings. Epic warrior meets competent leader. He does not necessarily have the authority of the king per se but the people will still follow him for a time..

and that brings us to Judges chapter 3 and the story of Ehud the Left Handed Judge.

Why read the rest when you can watch it…

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