Authentic Life: Who Cares What I Need? (Authentic Life Series, Part 2)

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Today, we continue a three-part series about our new Authentic Life Initiative with EvanTell. Thanks for your enthusiastic response to Monday’s post by Mary Margaret Gibson. If you missed it, you can find it here. 

I pray reading my post inspires you to think of your legitimate needs and how they’re being met. What about those you love? This could generate helpful discussions with them. This is relevant for everyone! Next Monday, I’ll post part three which will share specifics about our plans. We’re excited!

ck100-1Authentic Life: Who Cares What I Need?

I can still remember the room I was in at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay about 28 years ago when teaching school guidance counselors and administrators. To help them in their difficult jobs, three colleagues and I invited them to campus for a one-day seminar.

Why do I still remember the room? Because God used this experience to mature my faith in Him in significant and personal ways. He also taught me something relevant that I still use today.

We were teaching content designed to help children develop healthy beliefs about themselves and optimistic attitudes about the future. The program was based on five core needs that must be met for children (and all of us): security, identity, belonging, purpose, and competence.

My colleagues and I had chosen which of the five needs we wanted to teach. Because of our university teaching schedule, we had to teach them out of the recommended order. We initially didn’t think it would matter, but our teaching felt off to me every time we taught it. Half-way through one of these days, God showed me two undeniable truths. Have you had a lightning bolt experience of a deep ah-ha? Then you know what I experienced.

  • The order of the core needs matters greatly. Security – Who can I trust? – must be first. It’s the firm foundation for the other needs.
  • Without God meeting people’s needs, our training, at best, helped people change behavior. We weren’t changing hearts. In other words, we were teaching, “If you do these things, you can have these results.” My colleagues and those who attended didn’t see the problem. They were satisfied. We taught solid ideas that made sense. But, I was increasingly concerned that changes wouldn’t last.

God used these experiences to sensitize me to how He meets our needs. Teaching the order of the needs correctly made the program effective. Adding truths about God so I could take it from the university to the church made it powerful. Including God’s heart meant people I was instructing would have to involve theirs. Heart transformation was now more likely. Now lives and not just behavior could be made new. He rather than me made all the difference in the world.

All those many years ago, I began to adapt the material we taught into the Five Core Needs Model I now teach and write about regularly. (My book, Finding Authentic Hope and Wholeness explains the needs in depth.) I’m now excited to be embarking on another tremendously appealing adaptation of that content by working with Mary Margaret Gibson and EvanTell to create “Authentic Life: Our Needs, God’s Answers,” especially for use in their Save the Mother, Save her Child (SMSC) pregnancy resource centers. These Core Needs’ truths will cause more abortion-vulnerable women to choose life. Those who don’t yet know Christ personally can learn why and how to believe in Him. The Core Needs make the Gospel especially relevant for this generation with a heart-connection deficit.

Maybe more than ever before, young people need something solid and dependable. No, they need someONE who is. People are messy, and our culture is, too. Do you see the lies that allow Millennials and others to confuse wants with needs? How about “I want it now, anything goes, I’m more important than you are, I must be happy, it must be easy, I want a better choice, you can’t tell me what to do, I can’t be bored, my opinion matters more than yours, I must have fun, and I need the best”?

It’s understandable that young people think these are needs and “must haves.” Technology, social media, and the media proclaim that these are the things that matter. But, they’re wants. They’re counterfeits. Rather than settling us because needs are actually met, they make us want more. They may not be illegal drugs, but they’re like “adrenaline drugs” and almost as dangerous. It’s easy for any of us to be tempted to prioritize these above a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. We each must ask God to “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word” (Psalm 119:37).

Just a few nights ago, I taught a group of women about our legitimate need for security, identity, belonging, purpose, and competence. The night quickly transitioned from a teaching time to a ministry time as they leaned forward, cried, laughed, and audibly gasped as truths struck them as significant. Realizing their choices and attitudes were linked to these needs allowed them to see solutions where they hadn’t before.

  • Despair lifted. Hope returned.
  • Quicksand was swept away by solid Truth. A firm foundation was established.
  • Hurricanes in the heart died down. Contentment took up residence.

Women were inspired as they believed again or for the first time that God permanently and authentically meets their needs. Therefore, they realized they could confidently stop looking to the wrong people and in the wrong places to have their needs met.

Seeing God meet needs never gets old. This is among the reasons partnering with EvanTell is thrilling for all of us at Celebrate Kids, Inc. They, too, are all about influence and life-transformation. Participating with them in the Save the Mother, Save her Child (SMSC) ministry matters because moms and dads matter. Children matter. Their salvation matters.

Embrace Authentic Life

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Today I’m excited to share a blog from my ministry colleague and friend, Mary Margaret Gibson. I’m using it to announce a strategic partnership between EvanTell (www.evantell.org) and Celebrate Kids, Inc. It’s not about us – nothing is! It’s about the thousands of young people we’ll positively affect. Many thousands. For God’s glory. It’s going to be great fun!

Mary Margaret is the Ministry Director for Save the Mother, Save Her Child pregnancy resource centers (https://savethemothersaveherchild.org), a community ministry of EvanTell’s. This means, among other things, that staff has been specially trained to effectively share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with clients.

Have you ever had the opportunity to merge two of your passions? Have you  been privileged to partner with people who get what you do and make it better? Have you seen God take something you know is true and apply it in new ways? If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, then you know something about the depth of my joy and gratitude.

As Mary Margaret begins to explain here, and we’ll continue on Wednesday and next week, we know many young people who need their Core Needs for security, identity, belonging, purpose, and competence met in healthy ways. Many are relying on unhealthy people and counterfeit things. They’re hurt. Lonely. Hesitant to trust again. They’re using sex and friends to meet needs only God is designed to permanently meet. Engaging their heart doesn’t come naturally for many of them.

All of us at Celebrate Kids are looking forward to our partnership and influencing thousands of Millennials. We’re eager to help them even more effectively minister Jesus’ hope to young people in crisis. By presenting the Gospel in light of  people’s unmet needs, they will see that God is relevant. They will believe they need to trust Christ as their Savior. When they do, they’ll make healthier decisions for them and their baby.

To understand more, please keep reading. Thank you!

ck100-1Authentic Life: Making the Heart Connection

September 26, 2016

By Mary Margaret Gibson

“The way to a millennial’s heart is through our ears,” said Casey Fisk, describing the impact of Spotify— the music streaming service that has a worldwide user base of over 60 million people, predominantly millennials (ages 18-34) [i]

Fisk’s comment is great news for those of us hoping to introduce a person to the love, mercy, and grace of the gospel! It’s still just as the Bible says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).

And yet, as we searched for the way to make a heart connection with Millennial folks, we encountered something we did not expect: a heart connection deficit.

Pew Research reveals that Millennials would both benefit and suffer from their hyper connected lives.[ii] In a survey on the future of the internet a “notable number expressed concerns that trends are leading to a future in which most people are shallow consumers of information.”

Barry Chudakov, a research fellow studying Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto, said, “The cognitive challenge children and youth will face is integrity, the state of being whole and undivided.”[iii]

Thinking about all these concepts, EvanTell set out to communicate God’s love and power – the gospel – to the Millennial generation. We built our approach on these principles:

  • There can be a real “heart connection” between people and the God of the Bible regardless of cultural impediments – this truth is supported throughout the Scripture. This connection is the crucial element of hope in every generation.  Spiritual information is heart and mind information. In Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller’s book, “Parenting is Heart Work,” the beginning of the book considers the 750 times the Bible uses the word, “heart.” [iv]
  • Only authentic, transparent communication can reach the heart of a person, especially in an era where there is more unfiltered information from more sources than any time in history.
  • Personal interest and information is essential for Millennial folks, especially those who are in difficult circumstances. We decided to focus our attention first on how we communicate the gospel and discipleship through our Save the Mother, Save her Child (SMSC) ministry. Each week, thousands of people facing unexpected pregnancy visit one of the 700 U.S. and 30 international SMSC-trained centers.

For further help and advice, we went to our partner Dr. Kathy Koch (author of Finding Authentic Hope and Wholeness). Her expertise with millennials and research on “Core Needs” has helped us better explain a person’s relationship with God in relevant terms.

And, two years ago, EvanTell and Dr. Koch formed a long-term partnership to create what is now called, “Authentic Life: Our Needs, God’s Answers” (Authentic Life). Authentic Life unpacks how to have a relationship with the God of the Bible – the gospel – in the context of core needs and daily life!

Together, Dr. Koch and EvanTell have created a way for each member of the Millennial generation to know God’s desire to help them satisfy their Core Needs of security, identity, belonging, purpose, and competence.

They will be able to understand how to have the joyful relief of knowing that God loves them and is engaged in their lives! We want them to know they can receive God’s gifts of forgiveness and eternal life while they have His help to live each day! In short, they can have a heart connection with God.

You can read more about Authentic Life here. Contact EvanTell to learn more about how our Save the Mother, Save her Child pregnancy centers will be trained to share Authentic Life.

Watch for post #2 in this series, “Who Cares What I Need?” by Dr. Kathy Koch.

[i] Fisk, Casey, “The Way to a Millennial’s Heart is Through Our Ears,” Boogie, Blog post, http://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/2015-04-24/way-millennials-heart-through-our-ears.

[ii] Anderson, Janna and Lee Rainie, “Millennials will benefit and suffer due to their hyper connected lives.” February 19, 2012.  And more research at http://www.pewinternet.org/

[iii] Ibid., printed page 3.  Barry Chudakov blogs at http://metalifestream.com/wordpress/ .

[iv] Turansky, Dr. Scott and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. https://www.biblicalparenting.org/heartwork/index.asp

Many parents want to have longer and deeper conversations with their children. We’re busy and sometimes they’re resistant and it’s frustrating. In today’s “power word” video, Dr. Kathy shares three phrases that invite conversation. As always, thanks for your trust and we pray these are helpful.

Why Is Football So Enjoyable? Consistency (An Example for Parents)

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Did you spend time during this past weekend enjoying sporting events in person or on television? I was able to do both.

I’m speaking in Atlanta and Alpharetta, GA, today and tomorrow so I flew in early to spend time with my family. On Saturday, I enjoyed watching my niece coach her high school volleyball team during a tournament.

Volleyball has changed a lot since I played and coached. Athletes are much more talented. Plays have become more complex. Games are scored differently and rules have changed, too. Even if I could still play, without being totally versed in those, I’d be a significant detriment to any team.

After the volleyball action, lunch, and running a few errands, we arrived back at my brother’s home. Because we’re fans of the Big Ten and he lives where the SEC is an important division, the television was on for hours, but tuned only to football games. Dave knew which stations had which games and he deftly moved between them to keep checking the action. I lost track of how many different games he was keeping track of and how many minutes we watched football.

Do you know what made it possible to enjoy so many games at the same time? No, I’m not thinking of cable or the remote, although both are relevant. It was the fact that the rules were identical across games. Dave changed channels and we went from the Big Ten to the SEC to some independent teams. It didn’t matter. From this stadium to that. From this set of officials to that. It didn’t matter. The rules were the same.

Every team we watched this weekend will play a different team next weekend. The teams be in different stadiums with different officials. It won’t matter. Football is football at the college level. Fans know what to expect. More importantly, players and coaches do, too.

Can you imagine what football or any other sport would be like if the rules and expectations changed according to the host? It would be a mess! Players wouldn’t know what would constitute a foul. If the size of fields changed or the heights of tennis or volleyball nets changed, players might be good at home and not on the road. Confusion would reign. Doubts in their ability would grow. Frustration and anger would build.

It can be the same in life, can’t it? When our children and we are treated consistently and know what to expect, we experience freedom. We’re confident and more able to take appropriate risks. If we have to move between people and places with different expectations, policies, and rules, we can become confused and discouraged. We might become angry. We may not know how to behave, especially initially.

There are times when our children and we can’t be in control and others set rules and policies. We can help children handle these times as well as possible. We can, too. I recognize how challenging these types of situations can be. What frustrates me, maybe more, are times when we could choose to be consistent with other adults and children and we’re not. Then we wonder why others don’t feel safe with us and can’t be secure and consistently successful.

There may not be much to wonder about. When people experience stress, are tentative, and get frustrated, let’s examine whether different policies, rules, and expectations are a part of the reason. If they are, let’s change what we can. Now. Okay? Great.

When we tell kids we believe in them, they’ll be more motivated to persevere and choose other excellent character qualities. Picture your kids in the middle of a test or half-way through a football game fatigued and frustrated, but then remembering you proclaimed, “I believe in you!” That’s powerful! Let’s say this more.

Breaking Through Life “Blocks” the Smarts Way

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Writer’s block. Thinking block. Talking block. Listening block. Decision making block. Creative block. What if I suggested all of these are possible? You’re not surprised, right? You have probably experienced more than one of these. Let me suggest that the eight great smarts can break through any barriers. Be encouraged!

There are many reasons that multiple intelligences are powerful. Today, let me suggest things we can do for all eight that can result in breakthroughs. For instance, there are times I get stuck when writing. When I move from thinking with word smart to other smarts, I see things differently, think of different ways of expressing myself, and am able to continue writing.

Have you recently experienced frustration when trying to explain something and getting nowhere? What if you used a different intelligence? Maybe you are being too logic smart for your picture-smart son. Or, maybe you’re not being logic smart enough for your logic-smart daughter. Maybe you are explaining something important in a dark room to a nature-smart child who can listen better when outside. You get the idea.

Here are my suggestions. You can adapt them to use yourself and when communicating with others. Let me know if they’re helpful. Let me know what works for you.

Word smart:

  • Talk and write with your listener/reader in mind.
  • Listen intently to learn (not just for your turn to talk).
  • Encourage people to jot down keywords while listening.
  • Read books, blogs, etc. related to the topic. When students are lacking in this smart, have them read easier library books about topics in their textbooks so vocabulary words are introduced. You can also read these books to them.

Logic smart:

  • Talk with, listen for, and write with comparison/contrast and cause/effect relationships.
  • Include reasons when talking and writing by using the word “because.”
  • Include things worth thinking about or boredom will set in quickly.
  • Ask questions out loud and in your mind while reading and listening.

Picture smart:

  • Think about and describe what you see in your mind when someone is talking to you.
  • Study things with your eyes; investigate details with your eyes.
  • Use rich adjectives and action verbs when talking and writing.
  • Draw or sketch what you mean as you’re talking.

Music smart:

  • Think of a song relevant to what you’re reading about or listening to.
  • Take a break and listen to music for a while.
  • Experiment to see if you concentrate best when a certain type of music is playing in the background.
  • When talking, use your voice dramatically and expressively.

Body smart:

  • Without distracting others, move while talking and listening; take breaks to stretch and move.
  • Explore things with your hands.
  • Use manipulatives when learning, write in the sky using many muscles to help you remember things, etc.
  • Act out the meanings of words, the order of events for a history test, etc.

Nature smart:

  • Be outside, or inside by windows, when needing to talk about important things.
  • Look for patterns in what you’re studying (e.g., numbers and letters, similarities among words and ideas).
  • Categorize things based on shape, design, and other patterns.
  • Relate learning to things in nature when possible.

People smart:

  • When you have decisions to make, talk with others to get ideas flowing.
  • Notice and interpret body language; watching DVDs, TED talks, and other messages about topics you’re studying may help.
  • When talking, be aware of your body language as people with people-smart strengths will read it and draw conclusions.
  • When you need to remember something, exaggerate your body language to help you (e.g., if studying the definitions of angry and pouting, make facial expressions as you read or talk the definitions).

Self smart:

  • Think deeply inside of yourself about the topic.
  • Relate what you’re learning to your life.
  • Be quiet and find physical space you like where you can think alone.
  • Give people time to think and make decisions without pressure from you.

Develop A Communication Mission Statement For Your Family

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Concerned parents. They’re everywhere. Are you among them?

When talking with them, I’ve found myself saying, “Just keep the conversation alive.” When we listen and talk we can be influential. When we do both, they will, too. Eventually. We can’t give up.

I wrote “listen and talk” in that order intentionally. Our choice to listen – really listen – is key. It’s always a choice. If we don’t listen purposefully, they won’t listen to us. Why should they? You might think they should just because they’re our kids. Sure, in the ideal universe. But, maybe more than ever before, we need to earn the right to be heard. I don’t think that’s necessarily bad.

What if you wrote a mission statement for your family’s communication? I’m not kidding. What’s the mission of your communication? Why do you do it?

What we communicate and how we do it are primary ways we pass on our beliefs and values. Thinking about it more is wise. Of course, our sharing invites our kids to share with us so we can learn what’s on their minds.

Healthy communication is critically important to our family dynamic. But, there’s more. Our being available and interested communicates much to our kids. Oh, yes! We meet their needs:

  • When we listen, our kids will be more secure.
  • When we talk to share our lives with them and to respond to what they’ve shared with us, we affect their identity.
  • When we’re available to them even if we have to stop doing something we want to do, we strengthen belonging.
  • Asking and answering questions helps them identify their purpose.
  • Because they’ll be secure with us, they’ll believe us when we tell them they’re competent.

Decide your communication mission and discuss it with your children. Share your heart. If they’re old enough, involve them in the writing of the mission. Why do you value communication in your family?

You might want to use one or more verbs, nouns, reasons, and how you’ll do it. For example:

  • Share truth with respect and for the good of others so we’re informed and transformed.
  • Speak respectfully and listen intently to learn from and enjoy each other to keep our relationships healthy.
  • Demonstrate love and interest by asking questions of each other, answering questions honestly, and listening respectfully so hope and truth are our foundation.

The exercise of choosing the words for your mission will serve you well. Try it. If you’re willing, I’d love you to post your statement in the comments. Your vulnerability will help others. (That word could be in your mission statement and so could so many others.)

A sure way to encourage children is to let them know you’re proud of them when they do well, exhibit excellent character, and more. You can tell them this when they make mistakes, but don’t do as badly as they might have, don’t let the negative experience destroy them, and don’t whine and complain. This phrase increases security and enhances our relationships.

In today’s power word video, you get a bonus – two phrases! They’re significant because they help to build security between children and parents. Look for opportunities to use them and opportunities to talk about why you can’t if that’s the situation you’re in. Curious? Watch!

Teachers Are World Changing Heroes!

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“It’s not enough to be busy. Even ants are busy.”

If you would have been a university student of mine, you would have noticed this quote posted on my office wall. Ants look like they’re busy all the time. We can look busy all the time. But, it’s not enough to be busy.

While I might seem to be scurrying around, I’m am not simply “busy” here in Midland, TX. I’m seeking to positively influence those in attendance and how we all influence each other’s lives.

Let me ask, is making a positive contribution toward others a goal for you in your “busy” day today? If so, great! If not, it can be.

After hearing me speak about the 8 Great Smarts on Sunday, one of the public school teachers wrote that she was glad to be reminded that she wasn’t “just a teacher.” She is a world changer! When teachers help children grow and change, they make the world a better place for their students. Teachers change families. Strong families, in turn, make healthy communities. Healthy communities coming together can change states. States can help change the nation. You get it. Do you think it’s true? I do.

Excellent teachers are among my heroes. I pray they’re busy influencing many lives today. Let’s all be busy on purpose. Intentionally influencing others. Changing lives. Making the world a better place. Praise God!