I CHOOSE YOU!

“One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.” Luke 6:12 NLT ‭‭Why did Jesus choose the twelve men He chose to be Apostles, apprentice leaders? Was it because of the leadership qualities they possessed? Was it because of the leadership potential they had? Was …

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Unlikely Disciples

“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.” Matthew 9:9 NLT Matthew was the seventh disciple to receive a direct invitation from Jesus to “Follow Me,” at least as …

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Jesus – Fully God, Fully Man – the Authority to Forgive

“One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seemed that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus.” Luke 5:17 NLT Reading through the story of the healing …

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Made Whole by the Touch of Jesus

Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”” Matthew 8:2 NLT ‭‬‬“In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face …

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You WILL Fish. Trust Me!

When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.”” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭NLT Jesus had told Andrew, Peter, James, and John that He would make them fishers of people. The fishermen dropped their nets and followed Jesus. It’s not too …

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Let’s Go… Fishing for People!

After calling Andrew, Peter, James, and John to fish for people, Jesus embarks on several “fishing expeditions” with them. The first, in Capernaum’s synagogue, was the casting out of a demon from an afflicted man. It seems that the second expedition followed immediately after the first, with Jesus leaving the synagogue to head to Peter’s …

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Disciple-Making Begins Where You Are!

“Then Jesus went to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught there in the synagogue every Sabbath day.” Luke 4:31 NLT ‭‭Right after Jesus told Andrew, Peter, James, and John that they would begin to fish for people, what did He do? Jesus stayed in Capernaum and began to teach regularly at the local synagogue. …

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Inviting Interruptions – the Journey of a Disciple

“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬ Sometimes, God’s call and direction comes when I’m seeking after it. I’m looking for clarity. I’m fasting and praying. In …

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The Confidence of Christ

““Your approval means nothing to me,” John‬ ‭5:41‬ ‭NLT‬‬ When Jesus made a defense of Himself before the religious leaders who wanted to kill Him, He argued forcefully that He was the Son of God, the Sent One, the Messiah. Jesus’ confidence in who He was gave Him a freedom to not need the approval …

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Jesus and Miracles… Seeking the Greater Healing! 

“Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”” ‭‭John‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬ In John 5, Jesus returned to Jerusalem for a “Feast of the Jews.” We’re not told which Feast this was. Passover? Pentecost? Tabernacles? But the last time we saw Jesus in Jerusalem for one of the Feasts, He made a scene …

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The Kingdom Message Jesus Preached

From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. ”” Matthew 4:17 NLT ‭‭“Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom …

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Jesus. Carnival Side Show, or more, the Messiah?

“Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’—meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’” Luke 4:23 NLT This is the second time in the Gospels someone wanted to kill Jesus. It won’t be the last. The first was King Herod at Jesus’ birth. This, …

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What Accelerates the Spread of the Gospel?

“Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭4:14-15‬ ‭NLT “Yet the Galileans welcomed him, for they had been in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration and had seen everything he did …

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Going Where the Father Sends You #LikeJesus

Jesus “had” to go through Samaria. The way this is worded, it sounds like Jesus had no other choice. This was His only option. Interesting. The route through Samaria from Judea to Galilee would not be a Jew’s first choice. It was not the easiest route. It was not the best route. It was not …

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Joyfully Yielding to the Master’s Plan

“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”‬‬ John 3:30 NLT It’s a powerful statement. It’s a simple concept. The more He increases, and the more I decrease, the more joy I will experience. “It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to …

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The Gospel According to Jesus

“After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”” John 3:2 NLT ‭‭The Apostle John subtly weaves Jesus’ identity throughout his Gospel. John writes with one purpose in mind. He …

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Discovering Essential  Disciple-Making Fuel

“Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”” John 2:17 NLT What picture comes to mind when I envision Jesus going into the temple for Passover, seeing the animal-sellers and the money-changers, making a whip to drive out the animals, and flipping the tables of the dishonest …

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Just Do It!

“But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”” ‬‬ John 2:5 NLT A Wedding Miracle. Turning the water to wine. Jesus’ first miracle. One thing I’d never considered about this miracle is Mary’s perspective. Why was she so concerned about the wine running out? Was this the wedding of a family member …

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Jesus’ First Invitation: See Who I Am.

“Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day. John 1:39 NLT ‬‬““Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.” John …

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Are temptation and preparation linked in a leader’s life?

“At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” Mark‬ ‭1:12-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬ The wilderness temptation account is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Mark offers only two verses as a summary of …

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What is required to receive the Father’s approval?

This week, we continue our journey through Knowing Him / A 50 Day Study in the Life of Christ, by reflecting upon Jesus’ baptism.  Day 6 “And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NLT‬‬ “And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, …

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What would it have been like growing up with Jesus as an older brother?

Knowing Him  is a chronological 50 Day Study in the life of Christ. This week we’re diving into Day 5 of the study, a look at Jesus’ relationship with His four younger brothers.  “Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his …

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Ordinary Jesus

As we continue our study, Knowing Him, let’s consider for a moment the humanity of Christ. Just how ordinary was Jesus? “My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.” Isaiah‬ …

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Walking with Jesus… in Egypt

We begin 2024 continuing in our weekly walk through Knowing Him / 50 Day Study in the Life of Christ (Day 3). “That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out …

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Jesus and the Father’s Provision

Knowing Him / 50 Day Study – Day 2 “They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country …

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Knowing Him / 50 Day Study – Day 1

I want to invite you along for a journey in the life of Christ. Between Christmas and Easter, I’ll be blogging each week from Sonlife’s 50 Day Study in the Life of Christ called Knowing Him. Instead of just reading the blog though, why not pick up a copy and dive deep into Jesus with me! You …

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Sharing Jesus this Christmas

“For all the miracles of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace himself was a man. And he walked through this world in the most human way possible. With love. He didn’t have much, but what he did have, he shared, and it became plenty. Food, water, shelter, care. He met the world around him with …

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How To Begin A Movement

When I was 24 years old, I bought a 1989 Jeep Wrangler. I don’t know what it was about Jeeps that attracted me. Was it because they seemed like a fun vehicle? Was it the sense of adventure that they portrayed? Mine had a hard top, so I had a soft top kit installed so …

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33 Things that Happen at the Moment of Salvation

Of all the things we have to be grateful for this Thanksgiving season, none is greater than the salvation that is ours through Christ. A few years ago, I sat down Thanksgiving morning and began to go through the Scriptures and search out all the times the phrase “in Christ” appears to dive deep into …

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A Deep Dive into the Harmony of the Gospels

The Chosen Presents: A Blended Harmony of the Gospels I first purchased Thomas & Gundry’s NIV Harmony of the Gospels as a textbook in Bible College. I used it about as much as you would imagine the typical college student would for a class in Bible College. Then, as a new youth pastor, I was …

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Movement Building from the Life of Christ

Five years ago, when Imran Richards became the Caribbean director for The Sports Movement, they were ministering in nine countries or territories across the region. Today, they have nationals leading ministries in twenty nine of the thirty countries or territories throughout the Caribbean region. How did this growth take place? Imran was very intentional in …

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Learning To Fish

I have the privilege of volunteering as a chaplain for a police department in my area. Recently, I spent about 3 hours on a ride-along with an officer. As we drove and talked, he was sharing with me about a fishing boat that his father had given him as a gift. During our conversation, it …

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How to Identify, Engage and Equip a Team of Harvest Workers

I recently had the privilege of teaching at Word Of Life Bible Institute in Hudson, FL. I’d been invited to come in and teach the new class of students in a week-long course on personal evangelism. Just over 100 students are enrolled this year for the Bible Institute’s one year program in Florida. While many …

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How did Jesus start His ministry?

What did Jesus choose to prioritize as He began His earthly ministry? What did those early days and months look like? A common misconception many have is that the first time Jesus met His future disciples, He issued His call for them to be “fishers of people.” In both Matthew’s and Mark’s Gospels, the initial …

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Where is your ministry at in the process?

Do you want the ministry God has called you to lead to make and multiply disciples? When we study the life and ministry of Jesus, we see a clear, identifiable, intentional process He modeled for us in building a disciple-making movement. This process is something Sonlife trains in our Strategy Seminar, and it’s something you …

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Five Keys for Charting your Ministry MAP

Have you taken your summer APR yet? As another ministry year approaches, it’s wise for every leader to get away for what we in Sonlife circles call your APR… the Annual Planning Retreat. You’ll need two to three days to prayerfully reflect on this past year and seek the Lord for wisdom and direction as …

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How to Unleash the Untapped Potential of your Middle School Students

Middle school kids are high energy!!  No surprise for anyone that’s spent 5 minutes with middle schoolers.  What is surprising is how, knowing that, we try to get them to be calm, quiet, sit still and think, with their not yet fully developed brains. Once upon a time I was a part time Jr High …

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How To Grow Spiritually Mature Middle School Students

Spiritually mature middle school students? Does this sound like an oxymoron? A pipe dream? Isn’t the best we can possibly hope for simply surviving middle school? Maybe it’s good for us to remind ourselves what Jesus looked like as a middle school boy. “And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, …

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How to Reach Middle School Students for Christ

When I began in youth ministry over thirty years ago, the statistics were compelling. I don’t think they’ve changed much. Here’s what was true then. Roughly 90% of those who trust Christ as their Savior in the US will make that decision by the age of 21, before they graduate from college.  About 85% of …

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Middle School Ministry

Are 12 year olds capable of following Jesus? As a 22-year-old, fresh out of Bible college and ready to take on the world, I was thrown into jr. high ministry with the promise of “real” ministry opportunities down the road. I had visions of being a “real pastor” and eventually planting a church. It didn’t …

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I Want To Follow Christ !

CLEAN “But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9 Did you ever watch the Discovery Channel TV show, Dirty Jobs, with host Mike Rowe? In episode after episode, Rowe was shown performing difficult, strange, disgusting …

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I Want To Follow Christ!

FEED “When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of the Heaven’s Armies.” Jeremiah 15:16 What is your favorite food? A few of mine are steak, tacos, enchiladas, fettuccine alfredo, lasagna, chicken parmesan, pepperoni pizza, orange chicken, Swedish meatballs, …

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I Want To Follow Christ!

Talk “Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As He finished, one of His disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”” Luke 11:1 I grew up in a Christian home. We went to church religiously. My grandfather was a pastor. My mother was the …

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I Want To Follow Christ!

WALK So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves… Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:16,25 Have you ever taken the time to observe how others walk? What can …

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I Want To Follow Christ

IDENTITY “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone: a new life has begun.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 Richard Dietrich, a youth pastor friend, was leading a student mission trip to Poland years ago. Knowing that his wife had Polish ancestry, he decided to find the …

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Investing In Your Youth Ministry

“It’s free?!” “Really? That’s awesome!!!” Twenty four years ago this month, we moved from New Jersey to Orlando, Florida to join the staff of Student Venture, the High School Ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. The Student Venture team here in Orlando was a fun bunch who had developed strong partnerships with the local church …

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The Forgotten Disciple-Making Ally

At a recent Youth Pastor Summit, pastor, speaker and illusionist Drew Worsham shared the story of a Chinese pastor who had visited the US for the first time. At the conclusion of his visit, he was asked for his impressions on the American church. His response reflected amazement, but it was also a subtle rebuke. …

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A Hidden Key for Creating a Disciple-Making Culture

Years ago, I heard Pastor Juan Carlos Ortiz tell this story. He was preparing to preach on Love. He had studied all week, examining various passages. He had looked at the words for love in Greek and Hebrew. He, of course, had taught on love many times before. He wanted this message to be impactful. …

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An Avoidable Leadership Crisis

I’ll soon be in Turkiye with 270 disciple-making leaders from approximately 120 nations for Concentric’s Global Disciple-Making Leadership Summit. Eight years ago in Israel, while at Concentric’s last Global Summit in 2015, Sonlife’s disciple-making leadership pathway was born. It was then that our leadership team wrestled through a simple, clear paradigm shift. Our pathway with …

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Discipleship Is Not Enough

Over the weekend, Jennifer and I went to see Jesus Revolution, a new movie based on Greg Laurie’s personal journey with the birth of the Calvary Chapel movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s. As we sat in our seats at the movie’s conclusion, Jennifer and I both found ourselves saying the same thing. …

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What makes a disciple?

Have you been paying attention to what’s been happening in Wilmore, Kentucky? On February 8th, the chapel service at Asbury University concluded with a single student, convicted by the Holy Spirit, rising to his feet to publicly confess his sins. This simple act of obedience ushered in a profound move of the Spirit across the …

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Are we programming for failure?

7% of the next generation globally identify themselves as Christ-followers. This Barna Group statistic was the focal point of a three day conversation among leaders recently gathered in Orlando from various youth ministry organizations. Are we, the church, losing the next generation? Are we really satisfied with the results we’re seeing? We can’t stick our …

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7 REASONS WHY WE’RE FAILING

Earlier this year, about thirty of us from varying youth ministry organizations gathered in Orlando with one singular focus. Reaching the next generation. At the outset, a statistic was shared that became our rallying point. Recent research by the Barna Group provided sobering clarity. 7% of the next generation globally identify themselves as Christ-followers. Are …

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A Vision for the Islands

“Surely the islands look to me…” Isaiah 60:9a In 2012, I sat in my living room watching the Summer Olympics. I ran track in jr. high, high school, and college (800 & 1500 meters), so the Summer Olympics is a genuine treat for me. That Summer though, I was struck by all the Caribbean nations …

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Forward Focused

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts‬ ‭1‬:‭11‬ ‭NIV‬‬ At Jesus’ ascension, two men dressed in white appeared and made this announcement …

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Good News, Great Joy!

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to …

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Basic Training… for Effective Disciple-Making!

In two weeks, our youngest will return home from Basic Training. Back in the Spring, she enlisted in the Army Reserves, and her Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri began in late Summer. After three and a half months away, she will return home a different person. She will return home a soldier. …

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What makes a great youth pastor?

In the ever changing landscape of youth ministry, what makes a great youth pastor today? Has it changed in the past few decades? I frequently receive emails from churches looking for a youth pastor. Theirs has either transitioned into another role in the church, moved on to greener pastures, or has left ministry altogether. There …

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Fusion: Short-Term Student Missions

Have you ever heard the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none”? I resonate deeply with this phrase — not so much because I’m good at a lot of things, but more because I feel like I haven’t really mastered anything. I like working on projects with my hands, so I’ve dabbled in building …

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Experiencing Jesus: The Man with a Shriveled Hand

Completely restored He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Mark‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬ When Jesus healed this man with a deformed, shriveled hand, his hand was completely restored.  Such a powerful …

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