Friday, August 29, 2008

Personal Leadership Development Seminar

Taking Care of You...So You Can Take Care of Others!

October 11, 2008

Creekside Ministries
Poughkeepsie, NY

Brent Carl, M.S., BCCC

Come join us as we Prepare for Ministry Impact!

Seminar Purpose:

This seminar will help you discover your own unique style as a leader, and based on the findings, equip you to begin to lead through passion and giftedness. We will utilize proven assessment tools to help determine both who God has designed you to be and what that means as you utilize your leadership style more effectively in ministry.

Personal Leadership Development
is one of the seminars in the "Be the Change" Seminar Series that Brent Carl Facilitates.
Space is limited, register today!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Benefits of being a Global Youth Worker

Ninetyseventhree Guest Post: Dennis Poulette

Dennis Poulette is the Director of the Center for Youth Ministry in Latin America, Youth Ministry Professor at Mexican Baptist Theological Seminary, author of many youth ministry articles, a colleague and friend of mine with Youth Ministry International and the manager of the Los Pollos Locos fantasy football team in the inaugural season of the YMI League (he could use your prayers as he faces my team "BCwreckingcrew"...actually he should be more concerned about my son's team..."Mini-Mzungu").

Dennis has been running a series on his web site called Global Youth Ministry, and I asked him if I could post his most recent article on my blog, as I believe it really captures what ninetyseventhree is all about, what YMI is all about and what I want my ministry to be all about.
Series: Global Youth Ministry

This post is part of a series on Global Youth Ministry. Be sure to check out part 1 - Why Global Youth Ministry is Important and part 2 - What’s a Global Youth Worker?

Some say that apart from church planting efforts, Global youth ministry training should be the top priority in global missions. I believe it’s a ministry that every youth worker should personally be involved in.

Obviously, I believe strongly in the mission statement of
Youth Ministry International, which is “To train national youth workers for existing local churches within the people groups of the world.”

Every youth worker in the United States should be involved somehow in the training of youth workers internationally. Here are some benefits of being a global youth worker:

Five Benefits of Being a Global Youth Worker

1. Personal obedience - everyone should be involved in world missions because God has commanded us to make disciples of all nations. Your participation in global youth ministry will strengthen your personal relationship with God.

2. An example for your students. If you expect your young people to have a heart for missions, they need to see that you have a heart for missions. Being a global youth worker will allow them to see your burden for the nations.

3. An example for your church. I always hope that my youth ministry can be an example to the church. If I am interested and involved in global missions, my students will be an example for the church through their support for global missions.

4. Fulfillment using your gifts in global ministry. You may not believe me when I say this, but you have something to offer. You can pray more specifically by getting to know other youth workers overseas. You can come for a week. You can mentor long-distance. You could even go long term to train others. There are too many opportunities, and there are many different ways you can use your gifts.

5. You can use your experience. Someone once told me that everything that happens to us is just part of the training for what God has for us in the future. You have experience and training that others do not, and this experience and training that you have had in your life should be put to use in the training of others.

If you’re interested in training youth workers internationally, please leave me a comment or
contact me. Youth Ministry International is constantly looking for international trainers, and I’d love to talk to you more about the opportunities there are all over the world.

If you would like more information on Dennis' Ministry in Mexico visit his web site

If you would like more information on partnering with what YMI is doing around the world visit the YMI Blog or contact me as well.

Global Youth Ministry and the ninetyseventhree statistic go hand in hand...Is God calling you to partner with us in some way?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Unthinkable - Scott Rigsby

I love inspirational stories, especially when the spotlight is on the one who enabled the person in the story to excel at what they do. This video clip is about just that.

Scott Rigsby's story is truly unthinkable, but isn't that just how God works in our lives some times?

Doing the unthinkable for the that's inspirational!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

That's My King

Several years ago I had a conversation with some skaters at our weekly skater event called Hang Time. They were asking some good questions about God, Christians and the Church.

It was so cool to sit on a ramp with a slice of pizza and a bunch of very inquisitive skater dudes whose interest had been peaked by this church not only welcoming them with open arms, but actually building them a park, arranging for them to have unlimited access to their gym, game room, and sound equipment...then on top of all that making it a "fee-less" entry policy and even giving them free food and drinks.

They couldn't believe it, and every week it gave my youth leaders and I incredible opportunities to answer my favorite question that we got posed with all the time..."Why do you do all this for us for free?" It gave us such an open door to answer their question with my favorite answer, "because God's love for you is free!"

So as I was sitting there doing ministry with my tools in hand, I got a chance to respond to another statement that was a regular one that we fielded. One of the skaters said, "Brent, I would follow God if I could understand everything there was to know about Him."

Think about that for a second. "If I could understand everything there is to know about God...then I would follow Him."

I thought about that, took another bite of my pizza and a sip of my soda and then said some thing like this..."Hmm, interesting, I don't know about you, but if me and my little pea brain could understand everything there was to know about God...he'd be a pretty lame God and not worth following!"

It was a good little nugget to throw out there for them to think about, and to this day it has caused me to be so thankful that I don't know everything there is to know about God, and I never will...He is indescribable, and is so worthy of our Praise!

I came a cross this awesome video clip taking some excerpts from a sermon by the late S.M. Lockridge, that helps us put the amazing nature of our King into perspective...I don't understand Him, I can't comprehend His ways, I can't fathom His will, He is totally out of my league!

He's My King...Do you know Him?

Friday, August 8, 2008

What's the difference? - YMInsights Series

I've been home from Malaysia now for almost 3 weeks, finally the jet-lag is wearing off, (although to be honest I've been milking that one for a good 2 weeks.) I've had some time to rest up, reflect and try to process what I saw and experienced during my nearly 2 week adventure to Southeast Asia.

While I was there I saw a lot of things that were different than what I'm used to, and had so much fun seeing how they do life on the other side of the world. Things like driving on the opposite side of the road, the steering wheel on the right side of the car and clocks that countdown the time remaining on a red light were some of the things I noticed very quickly that were different.

A couple more things that caught my eye were; the high octane energy drink of choice instead of Mountain Dew or Red Bull is a drink called "Kickapoo Joy Juice", the way to eat an ice cream is in a hoagie roll, and if you do happen to ask for it scooped up in a cone you have to watch out for Monkeys as they are known to be little thieves.

I had such a good time with my students as we compared and contrasted cultures that we saw all around us. I mean everywhere we went there were Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christians and Free Masons. All of the different religions and belief systems made for some very lively discussion and challenged us all to not only know what we believe, but why we believe it. I also encouraged the students that we need to know the basics of what the other religions teach so we can have healthy dialog with others regarding truth.
During one of these discussions we visited a very famous Buddhist Temple called Ke Lok Si which is an incredibly beautiful setting carved out of the side of a very high mountain overlooking Penang and the ocean off in the distance. We didn't have much time, so rather than trek up the very steep mountain trail we decided to drive up the winding road instead (I was very pleased with that decision!)

As we got to the top and looked out it was the most beautifully ornate temple you could imagine. Every detail was intricately designed and every artistic depiction was made with the purpose of honoring Buddha and in this particular location the goddess of Mercy.

We went into one of the many Pagodas where we saw some Buddhist monks doing there duty as they offered daily prayers complete with a banging bongo like instrument and burning incense. Then we walked up some more stairs to another Pagoda area where people were gathered kneeling and offering prayers and paying money for various things. We kept going up and up and up until finally we came to a very fancy lift that was kind of like a gondola that took us up the rest of mountain to where the statue to Kuan Yin the goddess of Mercy resided.

When we got to the top it was so beautiful and peaceful, every blade of grass was intricately designed and manicured to help create a serene and restful atmosphere so that people could take it all in.

The first thing I saw was this statue on top of a building so I asked what that was, why it was on top of the building and why it was kind of smudged up and dirty. One of the students who really knew his stuff, and was an awesome help to me kind of chuckled when he said "um that is the original Kuan Yin, see that bronze statue over there surrounded by all the supports? Well, that's the new one." Of course I then asked, "why are they building a new one and what happened to the old one?" He went on to say "the old one was swept away during a mud slide and was pretty much destroyed except for the top section."

Hmm, the whole time I was trying to be respectful, and not make any verbal observations that might offend someone, so I pretty much just bit my lip and kept my mouth shut, but inside I was fuming as I saw idol after idol and issue after issue that really made my heart break for the people who are trapped in a culture that is built upon man made beliefs. The very fact that a god they worship couldn't stand up to a mud slide was a vivid picture in my mind of how weak and fragile our best efforts to reach God really are.

As we got in the van and headed back down the mountain the discussion we had was so rich, and the passion I heard in the voices of the leaders was so moving as they had kind of a "see what we have to deal with in order to reach young people with the truth" attitude...that was absolutely soul shaking for me.

I mean these youth leaders not only need to learn about youth culture they need to navigate through family structures that are steeped in centuries of traditions that are inter-woven through the fabric of generations. Talk about tough!

As we were leaving though, we had a great time of discussion about the fact that Jesus can break through and break free any and all obstacles, and the very fact that all the tombs we saw at the temples were full and if we could take a "road trip" to the Holy Land we would find nothing where they laid's EMPTY, because our God is alive and well and still in the business of changing lives!

I came away from that mountain and all those temples with a new found appreciation for my brothers and sisters in other countries who desperately want their friends and family members to know Jesus. I also came away with a re-kindled zeal to learn all I can about other religions so I can dialog intelligently about the God who is alive and well, and lives in the hearts of His people. They need to know that He is the one that can be known, will change their lives, give them purpose, and a place with Him for all eternity, and unlike the reclining Buddha in the picture below...He won't zone out on them...He's locked in!
Please join me in prayer for the youth leaders of Southeast Asia as they seek to proclaim God's love, and help their young people understand a key question they face when presented with the truths of Jesus..."What's the difference?"

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Do you trust me? - Lesson Learned Series

 Man it seems like lately God is just nailing me with thoughts, and concepts through the tunes in my mp3 player. He does that some times, I think it's a cool variation that He uses to get my attention with something He has for me to ponder and pray about.

I love my time in His Word, it's always so fresh and new, but it's amazing to me how God in His mighty repertoire can use things like music to get through to me as well.

Recently as I was listening to some music on the way home from a ministry trip to North Carolina a blast from the past came on my player, and in my mind I was immediately transported to a quiet time with the Lord that I was having in NYC...Let me explain.

One of the things I loved about being on staff at the church I was in north of NYC, was the mandate and precedent that my Senior Pastor put on spending quiet time alone with God for each of us staff members.

In fact his rule was that once a month for the same amount of time we would put into our ministry in the church office (9-5) we had to spend that alone with God (now this was of course in addition to our regular daily times, and really sent a message to the church that we were serious about our ministry and wanted God's Power to be driving it!)

It didn't matter where we went, but it couldn't be in the office and it had to be a place where we were focused on God and what He wanted to say.

I always looked forward to those times. I'm a little twisted I know, but I would always spend my day alone with God on a bench in Central Park with my Bible, a notebook and my cd player.

I would take a few cd's for the quick train ride in and then mix up my time with things like, reading the daily Proverb, praying some Psalms, listening to some worship music, praying for the people that I saw go past me, and journaling my thoughts.

I would usually include the discipline of fasting with my day away, and that always added to the realness of what I was doing. I couldn't wait to get up early and hop the train to the city; it was always with great excitement that I would head out to see what God was going to do that day.

As I captured my thoughts, prayers, lyrics to the songs and the words of scripture I then began to look for themes that emerged from what I was experiencing. I guess my attitude was one of anticipation that I was going to really be spending my day with was all about Him, His Word and being open to what He was saying, and I couldn't believe that I was even getting paid to do it!

Well one particular day in 2004 was especially soul rocking and direction changing as I sat there reading, journaling, praying and listening to music that all seemed to have the theme of "Things are going to change, and change big time for you my friend!"

You see I had just come off an incredible spring where our ministry saw 90 skaters come to Christ in a month, one of my best friends and beloved youth leaders pass away (Love God, Love People chronicles that one), and many more events that God was using to get my attention that the comfortable life in Student Ministries that I had grown to love and appreciate was going to be turned upside down on it's ear and things were going to get tough, and quick!

Here are some of the things that happened in 2004 that God was using to get my attention...

1. 90 skaters come to Christ in a month - May 2004
2. Larry passes away - May 2004
3. Hang Time gets shut down after a BMXer breaks his leg (Over 500 in attendance that night) - June 2004
4. I develop Eurlychiosis (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) and am literally down for a month - June 2004
5. I have a prayer session with 2 very special people who basically tell me that they believe that my upcoming trip to Ukraine is going to change everything for me! - June 2004
6. I have a youth leader tell me that he's praying that God would shake things up for me in Ukraine. - July 2004
7. I get to Ukraine and everything I have prepared to speak about is basically thrown out the window as I find out that over 90% of the audience that I'm going to be speaking to each day for a week has little or no knowledge of who Jesus is (I was prepared for more of a growth level type ministry taking the students to the next level in their faith...well, these guys don't even have a faith to begin with...prayers are being answered...God is shaking things up). - July 2004
8. While helping a missionary move books at the Kiev Seminary I see a sign on an office door that says "Youth Ministry International", I ask him what that was and I get introduced to the world of International Youth Ministry Training (Things are changing). - July 2004
9. I get home from Kiev and say to my wife "Umm...I think God may be calling us to move to Ukraine!" - August 2004
10. I nervously walk into my Sr. Pastor’s office and say “I don’t know where, I don’t know when, but I believe God is in the process of shaking things up in my life, and I think He may be calling me into missions, will you pray with me about discerning His voice correctly?” He was the best during the next several months of listening to God’s leading…never once did he say “Dude, you’re out of here…it’s this ministry or nothing buddy!” He had such an amazing Kingdom mentality! What a mentor! – August 2004
10. My grandmother was dying with Pancreatic Cancer (The same thing that I had just witnessed my friend Larry battle and lose). - September 2004
11. Our ministry had an open door to over 10,000 students in our area through the ministry of a nationally known abstinence speaker and we held nightly meetings at our church where the students who heard his captivating message in school that day were invited to come back at night to hear him explain how he made it through his earth shattering experience of losing his wife and child to AIDS...His relationship with Christ is proclaimed loud and clear! - November 2004
11. Bonnie and I go to Ukraine for a vision trip to see about joining YMI in Kiev, and come back even more confused because we didn't necessarily sense a call to the place, but more to the function of what YMI does. - December 2004
12. We go to YMI headquarters to tell the President that we won't be going with YMI - January 2005

These things and actually many more were all going on and swirling around me like a tornado when I boarded the Metro North train headed to Grand Central that particular day in 2004. I needed to get away; I needed to hear from the Lord in a very real and powerful way. My life was spinning around and I felt like I was on a roller coaster of emotions and feelings, and desperately needed God to step in and tell me what was going on and reassure me that He was in control.

As I sat there on the bench watching, reading, listening, praying and expecting, God used the lyrics to a song accompanied with words from Scripture to tell me exactly what I needed to hear.
The song that He used was "Lord, I don't know" by the Newsboys and as I sat there listening to the words I just broke down and started crying right in the middle of Central Park.

I didn't care, my world was changing, everything I knew and loved in ministry and relationships was changing and God used the lyrics of this song to help me start to make sense of it all. He is in control, and knows what He's doing. Check out the song below and scroll down to read the lyrics...


Lord, I don't know by: Newsboys

You are the
author of knowledge you can redeem what's been done you hold the present and all that's to come until your everlasting kingdom.

As I listened to that phrase “Lord, I don’t know where all this is going and how it all works out, Lead me to peace that is past understanding, a peace beyond all doubt.” I kept thinking of all the “this’s” in my life that needed explaining.

Lord, I don't know where all this is going Or how it all works out Lead me to peace that is past understanding A peace beyond all doubt.

You are the God of tomorrow turning the darkness to dawn Lifting the hopeless with hope to go on you are the rock of all salvation.

Lord, I don't know where all this is going Or how it all works out Lead me to peace that is past understanding A peace beyond all doubt.

Oh, Lord, you are the author Redeeming what's been done you hold us in the present And all that is to come.

Lord, we don't know where all this is going Or how it all works out Lead us to peace that is past understanding peace beyond all doubt.

I mean why did Larry have to die? Why did Hang Time have to get shut down, and over 500 skaters be turned away from their church that just celebrated 90 of them coming in to the Kingdom? Why did God captivate my heart so much on that trip to Ukraine when I’ve been on tons of mission’s trips and never experienced anything like that before? Why did I get so sick in the middle of that crazy summer? And why did the most amazing, God fearing, prayer warrior and incredible rock of my family have to die of Pancreatic Cancer? Why, Why, Why, God I want to know WHY!

As the song played and the tears flowed God began to answer my questions, with a simple reassuring voice that said to my spirit, “I am the peace that is past understanding, the peace beyond all doubt, I know who you are, I know what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling, what you’re struggling with, and I am in complete control…the real question is…Do You Trust Me?”

That was four years ago, and since then all kinds of new “this’s” have come my way. “This’s” that have caused me to do a lot of soul searching and even though I don’t have all the answers and the “this’s” keep changing and morphing into new and some times more complicated ones, deep down I know that God knows what He's doing.

I keep thinking about that fateful day in 2004 in the middle of Central Park, alone with my Savior who was totally focused on His child who was struggling, and doubting and questioning and wondering where He was in the middle of all his “this’s”.

The truth of the matter was that today’s “this” will always turn into something else and something else and something else, there will always be “this’s” that’s not the point. The point is do we trust God, that in the middle of all our junk that He is who He says He is, and He will guide us through all our rough waters.

He is the peace that passes understanding, the peace beyond all doubt, and even though I don't always understand Him...I need to Trust Him, He knows what He's doing!

Lesson Learned