Easter is coming soon, and I’d like to share a special project you can be a part of if you feel led to do so.
We are calling our Easter outreach project “Rise Up, for Youth.” We will be delivering an Easter gift bag to youth in juvenile centers in Tennessee, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. Each bag will contain a Bible, a book called The Case For Easter, a book called The Case For Christ, and some Easter candy. These books are by former “atheist turned Christian” and former legal editor for the Chicago Tribune, Lee Strobel. Both books make a powerful case for the evidence of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I know you will agree that we are in a culture war, a war between good and evil, for the heart, mind, and soul of today’s youth. And the frontline of the battle is in the heart of our fatherless youth. Every $10 given will provide a “Rise Up For Youth” gift bag with these powerful gospel tools. Our goal is a minimum of 250 youth impacted this year. We can do even more as God provides through His people. To give to this project, go to https://kenturnerministries.org/give/and select High Impact Ministries and the subfund “Rise Up.”
Caring about and acknowledging others impacts joy, health, and even the effective spreading of the gospel.
John said in III John 1:14 to salute and greet Christian friends by name. The Greek word used for salute and greet was originally described this way. When you see your brothers and sisters in Christ, you are to warmly receive them, fold them in your arms, embrace them, and receive joyfully. The word is used over 60 times in the Bible.
The University of Wroclaw, Poland, researched the subject of “emotional touch” in 2021. The research gave insight into the pandemic’s impact on the health and well-being of others. The study involved 14,000 people from 45 different countries. While different cultures have different ways of greeting, acknowledging, and showing affection toward one another, the focus was on “emotional touch.” In other words, the act of communicating genuine love and care. While people from different cultures greet one another in different ways, the fact that being surrounded by people who genuinely care about you has many positive benefits such as lower stress levels, a higher level of happiness with life, and even better health. The study showed that older people who are hugged often versus those rarely hugged have significantly better health.
Churches are shrinking. Many people claim the church is shrinking because people just aren’t interested in church anymore. I’d like to suggest a different perspective. Maybe the problem isn’t that people aren’t interested in the church anymore; perhaps it’s that the church isn’t as interested in people anymore.
If you do this one thing, show genuine interest in others, you will not be able to keep people from coming back to your church. And you will not have to worry about people coming back to you to learn more about how Jesus has changed your life. They will come back with intriguing questions and a desire to know what makes you so different.
So when the Bible says things like greet the brethren with a holy kiss, don’t get freaked out about that! You don’t have to do THAT, but there is something vital and even Biblical about the way we choose to care about one another. Learn to be better at friendship, look people in the eye, speak, listen, show interest, and care about others. Jesus kept it pretty simple when He said the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart and love people with all your heart.
When the Bible tells us to “greet” or “salute” one another, it isn’t something we should overlook. People everywhere are looking for authentic connections with others who genuinely care. After searching the Bible and reading each place the word is used, I found a pattern that shows a variety of ways we can become better at putting this into practice. In place of the word “greet” or “salute,” I will use the word acknowledge to describe how we can impact those around us. Here are the ways scripture instructs us to acknowledge others.
Acknowledge Jesus And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. Mark 9:15. The most important person you will ever acknowledge in life is the person of Jesus Christ. Make it a priority each day to listen to Him, talk to Him and allow Him to be your master teacher in all things.
A Single Acknowledgment by an Individual Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name. 3rd John 1:14. When you as an individual pause to acknowledge another person, by name, you are showing more than just friendliness, you are proving to a hurting world that each person matters to God and each person matters to you. Of the 60+ times the word is used in scripture, this is the way it is used most often. An individual person acknowledging another person speaks volumes about the love of Christ that is in us. A few years ago, my wife and I visited a church in Tennessee to hear a young youth evangelist preach who grew up under our ministry. When we walked up to the church entrance, a small neighborhood dog was waiting at the door and excited to see us. We petted the dog, and after the service ended, we stood around for several minutes thinking we might meet people. People looked at us talked to their own friends and family, but no one spoke to us. We made our way to the parking lot, and on our way to the car, we looked at people everywhere, expecting someone might speak to us. No one did. After we got in our car and closed the doors, we realized something ironic. The only person who cared about us was the dog. Unfortunately, people walk in and out of churches every week without ever being acknowledged.
A Group Acknowledgment by a Friend or Family All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Titus 3:15. To communicate that you and your friends or you and your family acknowledge a person says that it’s not just me, but my whole tribe thinks you matter, you are important, and you are cared about. When you realize not every person has a strong, loving family, and you choose to link a friend into your extended family, you give a priceless gift to a lonely person.
A Corporate Acknowledgement by a Faith Family Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. All the saints salute you, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Philippians 4:21-23. The message of care can come from a higher level. The message is that our entire church family cares for you; we pray for you and are here for your spiritual needs. Even though a person has a friend at church, they need to know the church as a body cares.
A Goodbye Acknowledgement as People Come and Go Acknowledgments send a subtle message at two significant moments. To acknowledge a person when you meet and when you leave sends a much more authentic message of care. Everyone has experienced the odd moment when a person “just left without saying goodbye.” The extra care at both ends of a connection are important and mentioned in scripture.
A Generous Non-Exclusive Acknowledgement And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Matthew 5:47. One of the greatest pains people have with the current church culture is the experience people have with believers clustering together and creating insiders and outsiders around the worship experience. Only acknowledging your own friends, your own relatives, your own neighbors, people who are only in your small group or Sunday school, from your own area of town, those with students in your own school, or even those of your own economic status or race, are all ways we divide ourselves. But as the Bible says… how does that make us different because even the unsaved world does that?
I read a story years ago about missionaries who visited an orphanage in the former Soviet Union. When they were taken into the room where the babies were kept, they saw a room full of cribs but noticed the only sounds they heard were the squeaks of the cribs as the babies moved around. The missionaries asked why none of the babies were crying. The staff explained that while all babies cry sometimes, the babies in the orphanage learn that when they cry and no one comes, there is no reason to cry. Our world is full of people who still need God’s love and need to hear the gospel’s message. It may seem that they aren’t interested but don’t let that fool you. They just need to know that someone cares.
There’s never been a more urgent time to reach a generation of youth than now. God has given us a fruitful year of ministry in 2021, and we are excited to see the miraculous, life-changing impact of the gospel in the lives of high-risk and fatherless youth in 2022.
We are entering our 35th year of full-time youth ministry. I thank God for His blessings and His faithfulness.
We are so thankful for your friendship, prayer support, and financial partnership.
Year-end gifts made by midnight tonight will help us take the gospel message to fatherless youth in 2022! Just a few more donations will help us reach our goal for 2021. We are within $10,000 of our goal for the year.
Here are a few ways your gift will help bring the gospel to fatherless youth!
Outreach project to provide Bibles and devotional journals to fatherless youth in juvenile centers across Tennessee, Indiana, and beyond. Our other project is to provide Christmas gift bags to 200 or more teens in juvenile centers in Tennessee. Each teen will receive a gift on Christmas with personal toiletries, a Bible, and a devotional book. Your gift will impact hundreds of youth.
Some people struggle their entire life dominated by a specific sin and never experience relief. They even memorize Bible verses about it. They quote the verse when temptation comes. That’s supposed to work, right? Like taking a pill for a headache and expecting it to go away or spraying for ants and watching them roll over and die! The Bible says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee.” It’s right there in Psalm 119:11. So what’s the deal with all this ongoing struggle and lack of victory in our life?
Here is how the Bible solves our sin problems.
It Starts with a Complete Reliance on God.
The phrase “Thy word” tells us that God is the source of all truth and He is the source of all strength and victory. He has proclaimed Himself through His written word and His word is powerful. People have great ideas, good advice and can give all kinds of opinions but ultimately we should believe and know that God’s word trumps all other sources of wisdom. When we become fully persuaded in our heart and mind that God and God alone is enough and He is at the core of all that we believe, we are on the right foundation to experience victorious living.
We Must Allow His Word to Be Carved into Our Character.
To “hide God’s word in our heart” is much more than memorizing a Bible verse. It’s way more than that! To “hide” means to essentially be so convinced of the truth of His word that it becomes carved into the fabric of our hearts. Our heart is at the depth of who we really are… it’s deep into the core of what shapes our character and our entire belief system. We are so convinced and convicted of its truth that we are willing to say, “I don’t know that I could ever disobey God in this way… this is just so wrong and unacceptable.” It’s not that we will never sin again… but it takes our commitment to obediently follow Him to a whole new level.
The Bible Breaks the Bondage of Sin.
If I understand that He is so powerful and He is the source of all truth, and I allow His word to be carved in to the core of my heart and character, then I will experience much more victory over what used to be the bondage of sin. Sin will not be so powerful because the light of who God is will be so much more powerful.
Realize this… you and I have been given a powerful source of truth and an instruction book for life called the Bible. People throughout the ages have tried to eliminate the Bible from civilizations and many people that have gone before us have died for their belief in the Bible. People have spent their lives in prison to defend the Bible and others have sacrificed everything just to have one page of scripture. Please don’t take it for granted today and commit yourself today to start reading God’s word and trusting it with all your heart!
After twenty-one years in church youth ministry I established an outreach ministry in 2008 with a key focus on reaching troubled youth in the community of Indianapolis, Indiana. Our ministry moved to Tennessee in July 2010 and I continue to minister to high-risk and fatherless youth.