Well Christmas is nearly here, and between Christmas Eve worship, weekend services, and spending time with my family, chances are I won't get a chance to do a lot of updates until after the holidays, and possibly until after the first of the year.

While the holidays can be super-busy, I do enjoy a day or two being completely off during this time.  I can't wait to spend time with my wife and son, and our families.  I'll also be diving in to some reading over the next week or two, and I'm excited about the two books I'm hoping to make some headway in.

The first is Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark Devries.  I'm really hoping that 2011 is the year that by God's grace we're able to craft a healthy youth ministry structure at FBCCS.  I'm a chapter in, and I'm already loving it! For more info, click here.

The second book is Love is an Orientation by Andrew Marin.  This book is all about building bridges between the mainstream church in America and the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transsexual population.  For whatever reason God has placed several young gay/lesbian students in my life and I want to make sure I'm doing the best I can to minister to and love them, and this book comes highly recommended from several youth ministry friends.  For more info, click here.

Merry Christmas to you all - I hope the holidays are amazing for you and your families!

- Tim B.
Usually the Sunday (or whenever you meet with students) after Christmas is a tough day to plan.  You've just finished your Advent/Christmas series of studies and/or messages, and your creativity is running about as fast as curdled eggnog drips.  If you're stuck for an idea, try using this community-focused study.

Intro the lesson by talking about how living in community - doing life together - is a crucial part of what it means to follow Jesus.  Use a personal story of how doing life together with others has made an impact on your life if you have one (I hope you do!).  Then print out this handout (right click, then select "save as"), and have students work together in small groups to look up the verses and fill in the blanks.  Encourage them to put this in their own words, not just copy down the verses word-for-word.  (By the way, the second page of the handout has "answers" pulled from the NIV Bible for you to use as a guide.)

Come back together and have groups share their answers to each blank, one at a time, and for each one ask these questions:

- Can you think of example of us doing this for each other during the last year?
- Is our group good at this, or do we need work?
- If we need work on this, how can we get better?

As an example, Romans 15:7 says that we should accept each other.  So you would ask these questions: "Can you think of an example of how this group displayed acceptance to someone over the last year?" "Are we good at accepting others, or do we need work?" and "How can we get better at accepting people just as they are?"

You may want to record the answers to the "how can we get better questions" on a poster or dry erase board.

Finish up by praying that God would help your group grow stronger in the areas they need work on in the next year and thanking Him for all He is doing in and through your group.


- Tim B.
Tonight we're wrapping up our "Grinches" series by talking about "missing the point" of Christmas.  Obviously, we'll wrap it all up by talking about what the true meaning of Christmas is.  Our Scripture is John 1:1-5 & 14, and as an illustration of the incarnation being light entering in to darkness we'll turn out all the lights in our worship space and light a single candle.  We'll spend a few minutes in silence praying/reflecting on the birth of Christ as the moment that God's light broke through the darkness of our world, and then sing the chorus of "O Come All Ye Faithful" to end.

Before students leave I'm giving each one a Ziploc bag with a tealight candle and a card with the graphic above printed on it.  The hope is that sometime over the next week and a half they will find some time on their own to reflect on John 1, the incarnation, and light breaking in to darkness.

I'd love to share this with you - you can download a Word document with the card above that you can reproduce and use in any way you want!  Click right here to download the "Light" prayer card (tip - right click and select "save target/link as").


- Tim B.
Loved this post over at YM360.  Check out the excerpt:

1. The Incarnation Is Awesome
Luke 2:6-7 says, “And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” It seems this generation of teenagers places a high value on authenticity. There is nothing more authentic than the God of the Universe taking on human form in order to perfectly save His creation from themselves. Students can know, and worship, and relate to God because He became one of us.

2. You Are Never To Young Or Too Inexperienced To Be Used by God

Luke 1:26-27 says, “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.” Mary was pretty young. Scholars’ opinions range anywhere from 13 or 14 years old to 18 or 19. The point is this: God used Mary in a miraculous way. That’s God’s M.O. He used Mary when she was a teenager. He can and will (and does) use young people today as vital parts of His plan to redeem humankind.

Click here to see the whole post!

- Tim B.
I loved the post "Story & Faith Sharing" by Chris over at his blog A New Kind of Youth Ministry.  He gives ten ways that story plays in to faith sharing.  Here are just a few:

  1. Story provides purpose. Connection to a people, particularly the people of God, links not-yet believers to a grand mission in which to engage and to live out.
  2. Story provides explanation. For many, story helps them make sense of their inner selves in light of the outer world.
  3. Story produces forward thinking. Story has a way of making people who engage the story focus in on its ending. Story helps people make sense of the redemptive plan of God.

Check out the rest by clicking here!

- Tim B.
I wrote this article for Brian over at X2J.  Enjoy!

Ah, the holidays are here at last!  Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, one right after the other in a 30ish-day blur of food, family, and festivities.  I love all of the traditions that go along with the holidays – Thanksgiving dinner, shopping, decking the halls, the church play, the Christmas fight…

Wait, what?  The Christmas FIGHT?  How did that one slip in there???

Hmm…  I think if you’re family is anything like mine, you might not be so surprised by that particular “tradition”.  The holidays can be a time of great joy AND a time of all-out-no-holds-barred-you-better-watch-out-or-I’ll-make-you-cry DRAMA.  I don’t know exactly what it is (maybe the combination of busyness, stress, financial strain, cold-and-flu season, turkey overdosing, etc.) but the holidays seem to bring out the best and, often, the worst in us.

Whether it’s your mom, your dad, your brother, your sister, your crazy Aunt Marge, or YOU, someone in your family may drop the drama bomb this year and put you smack dab in the middle of a warzone.  What do you do when the d-bomb drops and you’re caught in the middle?  Does the Bible say ANYTHING about family drama and how to deal with it?

Definitely!  Here are just a few of the things the Bible says that you need to remember when facing the drama during the holidays:

#1.  Do your part.

Ephesians 6:1-3 says “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise-- ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’”  I know this isn’t the most popular part of Scripture among teenagers – I mean seriously, honor AND obey???  Nonetheless, that’s what God’s Word says you have to do as a son or a daughter.  Honoring and obeying your parents means you do what they ask you to do as long as it doesn’t go against God’s Word.  It’s important to do this with a good attitude and a right heart!  If the idea of submitting to your parents makes you want to drop the drama bomb right here and now, pause for a second and think about this: honoring and obeying your parents is more about honoring and obeying God than anything else.  Disobedience and dishonor to mom and dad = disobedience and dishonor to God.  DO YOUR PART during the holidays by exemplifying this attitude of honor and obedience at home and you just might be surprised at the results!

#2.  Remember to pray.

Seriously.  Pray for your family and the drama that’s going down.  And I don’t mean like this: “Dear Santa – I mean God! – I want an Xbox for Christmas, and so much candy in my stocking that it could kill me if I ate it all at once.  Oh, and also, could you get my mom of my back – she’s driving me NUTS!  Amen.”  Lame!  No, I’m talking about the kind of prayer James is talking about when he says “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16).”  Do you believe God can change your family and diffuse the drama?  HOLD ON.  Think about it for a second.  God – who made the universe – who spoke entire galaxies in to being with just His WORD; can that God change your family and your circumstances?  You better believe He can!  Prayer can DEFINITELY be a catalyst for change – at the very least it will change YOUR heart, mind, and attitude.  And just like honor and obedience, you may be surprised at what else it can accomplish. 

#3.  Keep your eyes on Jesus.

As much as it pains me to say, sometimes when it comes to family drama, the best advice I can give you is “get through it.”  As a young person, a lot of times your circumstances are out of your control.  You may not have dropped the D-bomb, but you’re still going to be caught in the crossfire.  When you find yourself in the middle of a fight you didn’t start or an argument that you’re not a part of, remember to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.  Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  It IS possible in the midst of all the chaos around you to find strength, peace, and even rest, and that place is in the arms of Jesus.  Keep your eyes fixed on Him and know that even with all the drama, everything is going to be okay.

I wish I could say that this is a three-step plan for you to bypass holiday drama altogether, but that wouldn’t be the truth.  The truth is that we live in a broken world and we’re all broken people, and sometimes the craziness of the holidays brings out that brokenness even more than usual.  BUT the beautiful thing about this time of year is that light and healing came in to a dark and wounded world, and Jesus came to rescue us!  Remember that truth, and if you’re facing drama, remember these simple Biblical principles, and you may see God do something amazing in you and your family this year.

Happy holidays, and merry Christmas!

- Tim B.

Here's another free game I've created for Christmas this year!  Christmas Zoom-In can be downloaded by clicking right here!  (Tip - right click then select "save as" or "save link as".)


- Tim B.
I'm using this Powerpoint game tonight to go along with part 2 of our "Grinches" Christmas teaching series.  The way I'll run this is to throw the question up on the screen, and the first student on their feet that answers it correctly gets candy thrown at them!  Fun stuff.

You can download it to use in your group by clicking right here.  (Right click and select "save link/target as" for best results!)

Merry Christmas!

- Tim B.
I know I do, and it often makes me feel terrible about my ministry or myself.  That's why I love the reminder this video gives me!  Plus it's hilarious.  BONUS.

- Tim B.
Stumbled upon this great video at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's site.  This would be a great kick-off to a message on the Gospel, or even as a transitional element in worship or leading in to a discussion about the Gospel.  And the best part is you can download it for FREE by clicking right here!

- Tim B.