Life Connections/Practical Christian Living

Adversity:  Your New BFF – Up to 4 Sessions

Session 1 – Welcoming Trials – (Scripture:  Romans 5:1-5, James 1:2-4)    
If our life goal is to allow God to make us as much like Jesus as possible, I should recognize that one of the chief ways God does this is through trials and problems.  Tribulation sets up a refinement process that builds character and ultimately transformation.  Therefore, instead of resenting problems and even tragedies, we should welcome them as friends.  This can revolutionize our view of life’s challenges and tragedies.

Session 2 – You’d Be Surprised – (Scripture:  John 21:18-23)
Even after we recognize the value of trials and problems as God’s refinement mechanism, our human tendency when problems hit is to look for an explanation of what God is doing.  However, this is fruitless because typically most of God’s most profound lessons hit us from left field.  Jesus told Peter in John 21 that he would have a rough life and that his life would end in tragedy, which he must have struggled to accept.  However, by the time he was (according to church history) crucified up-side-down, Peter had been so thoroughly transformed that what at first sounded like a dreaded death sentence was ultimately embraced as the source of his joy.  He could not have predicted the course his life would take or that he would welcome the tragedies.

Session 3 – Lose the Dog Collar:  What Freedom in Christ Really Means – (Scripture:  1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
Many Christian songs describe our chains being broken and people being set free in Christ.  Does this mean that we can expect him to instantly release us from addictions, dysfunctionality and the major issues that plague us?  Clearly, he can and sometimes does.  But what happens if he doesn’t?  Does that mean there is something wrong with God?  Or is there something wrong with me?  This session wrestles with some of the tough issues surrounding what freedom in Christ really means and empowers participants to trust the Holy Spirit and take definitive steps to live out the freedom from bondage Jesus offers. 

Session 4 – Redeeming the Mess – (Scripture:  2 Corinthians 2:1:3-7)
God wants to use the sandpaper of my hardships to transform me into the likeness of Jesus so I can be his hands and feet to others going through similar or parallel problems.  By reaching out to other hurting people, I can allow God to redeem my pain as I offer comfort to others with the comfort God has comforted me with.  Becoming a channel of God’s grace to others provides a remarkable level of healing for my own disappointments.

A recent radio interview that embodies the essence of the series  Adversity:  Your New BFF,  and especially Session #4 (Redeeming the Mess).  Radio co-hosts Rick Probst (L) and Dan Ratcliffe (R) interview Glenn and Billy Burke (the tall guy) about how God has used the lessons God taught Glenn through an emotionally abusive upbringing to help Billy come to grips with his equally rough background.   Billy considers Glenn a great friend and a primary mentor, and this revealing interview explores what mentorship can look like.  Click    here    to view the interview. The first 16 minutes of the interview involve a lot of "drive-time banter," and the serious content begins at 16:00.

A recent radio interview that embodies the essence of the series Adversity:  Your New BFF, and especially Session #4 (Redeeming the Mess).  Radio co-hosts Rick Probst (L) and Dan Ratcliffe (R) interview Glenn and Billy Burke (the tall guy) about how God has used the lessons God taught Glenn through an emotionally abusive upbringing to help Billy come to grips with his equally rough background.   Billy considers Glenn a great friend and a primary mentor, and this revealing interview explores what mentorship can look like.  Click here to view the interview. The first 16 minutes of the interview involve a lot of "drive-time banter," and the serious content begins at 16:00.

 

 

 

Please click on the "HERE" link in the caption of this picture to watch a candid interview inspired by Session #4 - Redeeming the Mess.

 

 

 

Why Doesn’t God Do What I Want? – Up to 7 Sessions

Entering into a relationship with Jesus is the beginning of a transformed life.  However, sometimes we think God’s promises of a new life mean he will guarantee an idyllic existence, smoothing out all our rough spots.  The belief is supported by the verses about asking God for anything and believing he will do it for us.

It doesn’t take long, though, for reality to splinter our fool’s paradise.  Who hasn’t had the experience of earnestly begging God to do something close to our hearts, only to have the opposite take place?  These sessions explore various aspects of this dilemma. 

Choose any or all of the following topics:

1.      Sometimes He Does But Not Necessarily for the Reasons I Think – Gideon was one of the few people who had numerous direct encounters with the living God.  Despite these experiences, rather than joyfully stepping out to follow God’s will, he tested God with the infamous fleece incident.  Rather than chastise Gideon for his lack of faith despite God’s repeated demonstration faithfulness and power, God surprisingly complied with the fleece request not only once, but twice.  This demonstrates that there is not necessarily any connection between our worthiness and God’s answering our prayers.

2.      Sometimes He Does, But Later Than I Want – Many Bible characters wait and wait and wait for God to fulfill his promises to them.  Joseph is Exhibit A.  He waited 22 years before God finally elevated him from the well his brothers threw him into to the number two position in all of Egypt.  He lived out this 22-year period one day at a time, and his sustained faith testifies to his incredible character and faith, and it illustrates that God has a difference sense of “soon” than we do.

3.      Sometimes It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better – Sometimes God allows our circumstances to collapse before he steps in in response to our prayers.  Pharaoh’s response to Moses’ request to allow the Israelites to worship God in the desert is a perfect example.  Rather than grant the request, Pharaoh told Moses that, if the people felt they had enough time to worship in the desert, they must have spare time on their hands.  Consequently, Pharaoh would no longer supply the straw necessary to make bricks and yet required the same output of bricks per day.  This proved to be only a temporary setback and God ended up delivering the Israelites in one of the most spectacular miracles in history.  But the Israelites had no way of knowing that as their straw was taken away.

4.      Sometimes He Does, Even Though There Is a Down Side – After God delivered Israel from Egypt and allowed them to finally enter the Promised Land, the people repeatedly petitioned God for a king so they could be just like the other nations.  Despite God’s warnings that they would live to regret it, they persisted in their requests, and God ultimately complied.  Not surprisingly, God’s predictions came true, and Israel had to suffer the consequences of their ill-advised request.

5.      Sometimes He Just Doesn’t – Jesus referred to John the Baptist as the greatest person who ever lived.  Although we don’t have any recorded prayers from John after he was thrown in Herod’s prison, it’s hard to imagine that he never once asked God to release him.  Of course we know that John never made it out alive.  If God, for reasons we don’t understand, didn’t answer the prayers of the greatest man who ever lived, should I be surprised if every one of my idle prayers are not answered in the way I want?  This session includes a discussion of eight reasons why God sometimes doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want.

6.      How Not to Respond and How to Respond When God Doesn’t Do What I Want – Lessons from:

Interview on FaithTalk 970 about his book  That's a Great Question .

Interview on FaithTalk 970 about his book That's a Great Question.

·         Abraham and Sarah who took matters into their own hands when God didn’t seem to be fulfilling his promise to make Abraham a great nation (negative example)

·         David’s response at the death of the baby born from his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba (positive example)

7.      Wrap-Up Thoughts:

·         A look at the “ask anything you want” verses

·         The difference between “Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers” and “Why Doesn’t God Do What I Want?”

NOTE:  Most of the above topics are also available as single session presentations

 

Demystifying Evangelism – 1 or 2 Sessions

One thing that unites both Christians and non-Christians is that both groups hate evangelism.   Christians sometimes share their faith out of a sense of obligation or avoid doing it altogether.  These sessions shed light on some common sense perspectives and ideas for telling others about Jesus a much more natural – and even enjoyable – part of our lives.  The two underlying principles presented are intentionality and preparation, and many practical examples of each are provided, including looking at New Testament examples of sharing the good news in various circumstance.

 


 

Single Sessions

The Anti-Fleece Method:  Decision-Making That Honors God – 1 Session

Making major life decisions often immobilizes us for fear of missing God’s will.  This session considers some of Jesus’ teachings on planning and offers clear, practical insights into how we can boldly make decisions and confidently move forward even if subsequent events disappoint.  And, no, it does not encourage “laying out a fleece” as Gideon did.  In fact, it encourages just the opposite.

 

Why I Stopped "Praying Statistically" 1 Session

If we've been Christians for a while, we have probably seen God answer some of our prayers in dramatic and even miraculous ways.  But that's not always the case.  After a while, we can allow an unspoken sense of the "odds" of God answering my prayer the way I want and let this "statistical" approach undercut our belief that God can and will answer our prayers.  This session discusses the extremes of "praying statistically" on one end and praying presumptuously on the other end and lands in the middle ground of praying expectantly.

 

Comfortable in Your Own Skin – 1 Session

We all have life areas we are pleased with and things we would change if we could.  This session is designed to revolutionize our understanding of ourselves by examining three foundational truths about God's dealing with us and three factors that define who we are.  Glenn leads the audience to a deep appreciation of our unique position as deeply loved, sovereignly designed children of God.

 

70 x 7:  The 3 Dimensions of Forgiveness – 1 Session

When Peter asked Jesus how many times we are expected to forgive someone, Peter must have thought offering to forgive seven times was pretty generous.  Imagine his shock when Jesus said the right answer is actually seventy times seven.  Besides addressing the primary application of this teaching (i.e., that we are to unconditionally forgive our fellow believers), this session also looks at two unexpected people we need to forgive:  ourselves and God.

 

My Story:  A Transformed “Idiot Child” – 1 Session

As indicated on page 1, Glenn was raised in an emotionally abusive environment.  Besides abandoning the family physically, emotionally and financially, Glenn’s dad manifested unfortunate sadistic traits including giving Glenn the nickname “Idiot Child.”  Furthermore, all the men in the immediate and extended families suffered from significant dysfunction, so Glenn grew up without ever feeling that anyone had his back.  In college, Glenn entered into a relationship with Christ, and over the subsequent years, God slowly repaired the damage.  In this very personal talk, Glenn details the emotional abuse he suffered and shares how God has allowed him to take the miraculous transformation he experienced to minister to other men with troubling backgrounds.

 

How to Be Holy without Being Stuffy 1 Session

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches that unless we are more righteous than the Pharisees and religious teachers, we won’t be able to enter the kingdom of God.  Yet he was unrelenting in his criticism of their legalistic hypocrisy.  How can we pursue holiness without being trapped by the Pharisees’ emphasis on the superficial?  And how does all this fit with Jesus' invitation for the weary to come to him and take up his easy yoke and light burden?  This study considers the complex interaction among these concepts.

 

"I Have To" vs. "I Get To" 1 Session

Too often, we focus on the wrong end of our relationship with God, starting with obsessing over our failures and shortcomings.  The result?  Emphasizing my obligations to "perform" for God rather enjoying the privilege ofrepresenting God's loving character to others.  This session both explores the root causes of the wrong attitude and offers helpful insights on how to keep the right perspective.

 

My Future, Guaranteed!1 Session

If only I could tell the future!  Even though no one can fill in the details, the Bible is crystal-clear about my destiny as a believer.  This study rolls back the curtain just a bit and leaves each participant with a hands-on item to remind them every day of the glorious future God has planned for them.

 

Being True to Myself1 Session

We’re all tempted to be something or someone we are not.  A pivotal event in David’s life provides an unforgettable object lesson, and each participant in this session will receive a tangible item to remind them to embrace the unique path God has custom-designed just for them. 

 

 

Please note:  Glenn is also pleased to prepare talks on topics of his hosts' requests.