I Can’t

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Last Wednesday I did something that surprised me… I benchpressed 265 pounds.  I know what some of you may be thinking: so what, that’s not much or why are you telling us this.  It is significant because in my life benchpress was always something that I believed I would never be good at or achieve any weight that would be seen as socially acceptable for a guy my height.

For years I always told people I am not good at bench press, I am not strong in my upper body but strong in my legs or some variation of why I wasn’t good at it.  Every time I laid down under that bar, the narrative of “I can’t” blasted through my mind before I ever picked up the bar.  I heard the voice of the older players in high school basketball offseason laughing and telling me to “stop playing with kids toys” when they saw the lack of weight I had on the bar.  Fear of failure gripped me, fear of the bar dropping on my neck and a gym full of people laughing caused me to give up before I started because I wasn’t good at it.

I tell you this because this fear of failure didn’t just affect me on the weight bench but in life.  I am growing in this area, I am confronting the things that once paralyzed me.  I tell you this because I know many of you are letting “I can’t” dictate what steps you take or don’t take in life.  I have found in my instances where I thought I can’t that I actually could.  Even in the things that I still realize I can’t, I have a God who can and still does miracles every day.  I realize that faith over fear brings with it a more fulfilling life.  Does God care that I went from maxing 135 lbs. in high school to 265 lbs. today? No, he doesn’t care about my numbers but he does care when one of his children is believing the lies of Satan which cause them to sit in fear rather than stepping out to be the best and healthiest version of themselves possible. Don’t settle for the lie of I can’t, be a doer and lean on the one who can even when you can’t.

“Spirit lead me, where my trust is without borders…”

 

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Darrell Halk
Realtor ®
Brokered by ERA Cornerstone Realty
972.832.1749
darrell.halk@era.com

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Lamar Odom and Life After Sports

"LamarOdomLakers" by Bridget Samuels from College Park, MD

“LamarOdomLakers” by Bridget Samuels from College Park, MD

I have to admit that this situation with Lamar Odom has affected me in a deep way.  As someone who has never met Lamar and is a fan of the team where Lamar played his worst basketball (Dallas Mavericks), some may not expect me to feel this connection to LO.  I also know all the arguments regarding the fact that Lamar did this to himself by his drug use.  All that said…my heart hurts.

My heart hurts because I see many athletes who lack the support system to find value and fulfillment after their career.  Pro athletes are some of the most gifted, talented and engaging people I have ever met.  For many of them from the time they are young they are told how incredible they are and given lavish amounts of praise for their skills.  They deserve every bit of that praise.  As someone who considers himself athletic, I cannot fathom the level of talent, hard work and giftedness it takes to achieve even making it to the professional level of athletics.  I will never understand what it is like to achieve that success.  It must be hard whether because of age, declining talent, lack of opportunity or injury to see the door of that enormous achievement close.

Years ago God began to stir my heart for making a difference in the lives of pro athletes, specifically helping them navigate this transition out of the game.  As many know I own a business that specializes in setting up autograph signings with former pro athletes called Halkman Sports.  For me my hope is not just to collect autographs for customers but to be a voice of truth and encouragement for guys as they navigate the transition out of sports.  I want to be an encourager, so every time I see a situation like Lamar Odom is facing now I hurt.  I hurt because in Lamar I see a legion of other guys also struggling with a myriad of issues: regret, alcoholism, lack of direction, drugs, joblessness, relationship struggles, identity issues and in some rare cases homelessness.  I hurt because I want to help, I want to be a voice that changes that and I see God opening doors and giving me favor with former athletes but I still struggle to see what difference someone can make who has never been in their shoes.

I guess I write this to share this calling publicly.  I am called to pastor and to walk along side of pro athletes and help them transition out of the game, but what that looks like on a larger scale I have no clue.  Until then, one by one and two by two I will seek to encourage and be a resource to any players God puts in my path.  If I can encourage one guy and give them hope, I want to do that.  I pray that the number of former players taking their own lives and walking paths of destruction will be replaced with stories of the guys who have made the transition well and are making a difference in their community, job places and the game they loved.  There are many guys doing that and those are stories worth telling.  I think of so many ballplayers who have struggled through identity after sports and won.  That is a game far more important than sports.

God, help me to see how I can be an encouragement and difference maker.  To cheer on those who are making the transition well and walk with those who hurt and struggle.  I am willing.

Youth Ministry in the Facebook Age

 

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” Ignorance is bliss” was a term first coined by Thomas Gray in his Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.  I may be the only one who feels this way, but as a veteran church youth worker sometimes I miss the blissful ignorance I was able to experience previous to social media.  I do not say this as a technology hater, but as a person who loves social media and has an account on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even maintain my Myspace for a rainy day.  I miss the days of ignorantly believing that every one of the students in my ministry was latching on to the things they were being taught and learning to live them out.  I am such an optimist in most cases, I want to believe the best about people and believe that all of them are truly opening their heart to God.  The world of social media sometimes robs me of my optimistic dream world as students so openly and truthful share who they really are on the world wide web.

Maybe this is just me, but my heart hurts sometimes when I read the words of those I shepherd online.  It hurts so much because every part of me knows that the answers and joy that they are seeking in other places is found in allowing their head knowledge about Jesus to become a heart devotion that consumes their life.  It hurts so much because many of them sit week by week and learn more head knowledge about Jesus, but never let him completely lead their lives.  I wonder what it may have been for my youth leaders to have to sit and read the filth, doubts and soul searching I spewed from my mouth as a teenager.

None of these feelings I have come from a spirit of judgement, at least it does not feel like judgement in my heart.  Every student means the world to me, whether they realize it, or I show it poorly.  The passion of my life is helping people truly know Jesus, and I want that for every student that has ever been under my care.  My heart breaks anytime a student walks away from church.  My heart breaks anytime I see a student post things that dishonor Jesus.  My heart breaks when a student can sit through service after service at my church and still miss Jesus.  I used to be able to lie to myself and believe they were all getting it, but social media gives me a taste of reality.  A hard reality.  A reality I do not like to acknowledge.

I definitely see the great things that social media brings to my ministry.  It provides so many great tools for communicating, relationship building, and getting a window into the students world.  Maybe I am ignorant for saying this, but sometimes I wish the window was not so clear.  Satan uses it often to whisper to me of my ineffectiveness.  While many times my methods are ineffective, I know I serve a God who can change any life and that is what keeps me going.  My calling will always be to show people Jesus and hear me clear that is exactly what I want to do.  If you sometimes feel like I do cling to Jesus and your calling even when what is before you may not seem to be bearing fruit; those who you shepherd need you to keep going.

FOR MORE ABOUT DARRELL CLICK HERE

Asking the Right Question

In the last few weeks I have had more than one person approach me about feeling a lack of passion or dryness in their pursuit of Christ. Many seem to associate Christ with feelings of shame and guilt, so they want to avoid Him all together. So many of us have become so accustomed to living a legalistic, rule based Christianity that when our performance fails we cannot escape the guilt of our failures. Many of the thoughts below came from what God has helped me learn in my journey, what God taught me this Summer in studying to teach Bible Studies for Camp 220, and hearing others teach this summer.

First thing I need to remind you, IF you belong to God, meaning you have a relationship with Him, then Romans 8:1 tells us there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This verse has meant so much to me, because it promises that in the midst of our failures God in his grace and mercy forgets our trespasses against Him. It is almost as if God is telling us I do not condemn you, QUIT CONDEMNING YOURSELF. Quit living a powerless Christianity swallowed up with guilt. When God looks at you as a Christian, he does not see your failures; He sees Christ’s righteousness that has covered you.

Zephaniah 3:12-19 is a beautiful picture of the joy that God finds in who we are. God sees someone worth singing over, he has taken away his judgments over you, he fights for you and he is near to you. God says you are so worth all Jesus did.

So first we must see ourselves in the way that God sees us, but second we must ask the right questions about how to get back the passion and zeal that seems absent. Many times we begin with the question how can I pray more, how can I read the Bible more, or what can I DO to draw closer to God? I believe this is the wrong question to begin our thought process.

1.) The question is not how much am I doing to draw close to Him, it is how much am I letting Him do in me?

Does he have my whole heart?

What things in my life steal my affection for Him?

Am I living out Philippians 3:7 that everything compared to Christ seems like dung, poop, or rubbish? It is not an obedience problem as much as it is a love problem. When Jesus has all of our affections no one has to tell us to pray, or read our Bible, we just desire to do it. The prayer is not God help me increase my Bible study time, but help increase my love for you, help remove the things that steal my affections from you… Come and have my whole heart.

Many of us are like the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2, we are checking off all the duties of a Christian, but we have lost our passion and love for him in the midst of doing things for Him. The question must come what am I letting him do in me?

Have I surrendered my spiritual gifts and passions to be used by him? These gifts are not accidents, but are intended to be used by him for his church. Some of the most excited students in my youth ministry right now are those who have realized their spiritual gifts, asked God to take those gifts and use them and seen God begin to work in them and through them. It is in giving God complete control that our passion and desire to be in word and pray increases.

2.) The next question we must ask is by whose power am I living in? 1 Corinthians 4:20 says the kingdom of God is not in Word but in power. Paul tells the people if he comes he will not judge their closeness to God by what they say, but by the power which they live by.

What are you living in that takes God’s power to complete? Are you living by his power or living in what is comfortable and manageable for you? The reason most Christians never move forward in their walk with Christ is they spend their whole life walking in and praying for things they can accomplish without God.

What are you letting him do in you? Have you been just a follower in words or are you living each breath, each step by his power?

3.) How big is your view of God? What God is able to do in and through us is relative to what we believe he is able to do. So many Christians spend so much time arguing what God can’t or doesn’t do anymore. I am persuaded that if we worship a small God who has a list of things he can’t do and we have a holy spirit who is mute and serves as just a glorified conscience then we limit what God is able to do in us and through us. Check out Mark 9, part of our drawing into a powerful life changing relationship with Christ is admitting the areas of unbelief and saying God help me believe in the depth of your power.

Is your God manageable, understandable and full of things he can’t do or doesn’t do anymore or is he the powerful God of the Bible? Part of letting him do what he wants in us is having an accurate view of Him.

4.) Lastly, we will all spend time in the desert or times of dryness; it is how we navigate through that time that tells if we fully belong to Him. It was in Jesus’ time in the desert (Matt 4) that he was tempted, he responds by clinging to Scripture. In dryness we must cling to the Word, not as a duty but because we need it.

What are you allowing God to do in you?

Mark Matlock endorses No One Really Knows

BOOK

Check out the newest endorsement received for my
coming book No One Really Knows.

 

Mark Matlock- Wisdom Works Ministries (Planet Wisdom) and Vice President of Event Content at Youth Specialties
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“Leave it to Darrell Halk to capture the lives of real teenagers as they experience life and faith. Darrell has been in the trenches with teens for years walking with them through the trials, triumphs and tragedies of navigating a life of faith in Jesus Christ. “No One Really Knows” captures his insights along the way and offers real hope.”

 

Book Synopsis, Pre-order Info and other Endorsements–> CLICK HERE

By Our Love

I always intend to write here, I really do, but somehow some way I find other things to occupy my time.  Today I HAD to write, something is stirring my spirit and I cannot put it aside.  I guess it even relates to some of the blogs I have posted in the past but this one is more than anything directed to all of us as who labor as Pastors.

This verse has been really birthing repentance in my heart for the last few days as I have thought on it, meditated on it and have sought to be intentional about living in light of it.

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.

I attended the C3 Pastors Conference last week and was really shaken by every single message that was preached.  Some were delivered by ministry legends like Ed Young Sr., others by pastors I had oftenly judged with scepticism like TD Jakes and Ed Young Jr and others by pastors whose name I had never heard like David Hughes, Leon Fontaine, Dr. John Cross, Samuel Chand, Dino Rizzo and others.  All that to say, I am different because these guys listened to God’s Spirit and shared from the depths of their soul what God had spoken to them.

It got me thinking, especially in light of all of the publicized attacks on Ed Young Jr, Pastor of Fellowship Church in the last few months, why do we as pastors seem to ” eat our own” so to speak.  It is obvious that Ed is anointed and gifted by God to be a voice to help those without Christ see their desperate need for them.  So in his time of attack, why are we blogging about him, slandering him, speaking out against him when I am sure most of us only know of him personally what the media has told us is truth.

What does it gain for us or the kingdom for us to be the cheerleading bloggers that are adding to the fire of those who are questioning his motives? It sickens me that  sometimes I feel it gives us some kind of joy when we see one of the “big dogs” in Church leadership fail because then we can pat ourselves on the back and feel better about our shortcomings as leaders.  All of us who pastor know how difficult being a pastor is, the behind the scenes stuff that can steal our joy and exhaust us if we do not stay intune with God himself for filling, contentment and power.  Many of us know the pain of slander that has been aimed at us or our family.  So why are we the ones sitting behind our comuter screens firing darts of accusation at one of our fellow co-laborers for Christ?

Don’t we believe that Ed needs prayer from us right now? If the pastors aren’t willing to stand with their own who will? Whether we agree with his actions, his theology, his method of ministry, he is still one of us. One of us who is impacting lives all over the globe for the kingdom. Rather than perpetuate the slander, lets unite to pray!

I was also convicted by my quickness to judge or be skeptical of the motives of pastors that I really knew little about.  I will tell you I felt pretty foolish that I had long been skeptical of TD Jakes when I heard him preach God’s Word Friday.  This man allowed God to work through him in a way I have seen few others do. He spoke with power, he spoke biblically, but most of all he allowed the Spirit to use him as a vessel. His message ate my lunch, gave me hope, pointed me toward Christ and helped trim away some dead branches in my life.

I guess in all of this the principal I learned is we can spend a lot of time slandering other leaders, jumping on our blogs and facebooks when another leader “fails” legitmately or by our standards or we can be a people who stand with one another, pray with and for one another.

Does the world know we are followers of Christ by the way we love each other or conversely do they see people who are quick to cast a stone at easy targets. God is telling me to put my rock down, that unless I have not failed as a leader then my stone belongs as an ornament of the dust rather than a weapon of accusation. Honestly I think this is a universal principle, who needs more prayer than our government leaders right now? Who needs to know the Lord more than the celebrities and atheletes that we see fall into moral failure?

We can continue to comment on our opinions of peoples failures or we can become serious about standing in prayer before God as broken people praying for other broken people, I know the road of change God is leading me down. I have no voice nationally, no one knows who I am in the Christian world but my prayer is that the things God has convicted me of will affect and resonate with Christian leaders around the globe

Praying, Loving and Standing with other broken leaders,

Darrell Halk

Practical Applications for Ministers

Yes, yes, it is finally new post time.  I found this list of practical applications for ministers from a chapel service led by Dr. Jimmy Draper Jr. at SWBTS.  I think this was from my first semester there, but I am not sure.  I thought these might be helpful for other ministers out there.

1) Don’t neglect your personal relationship with God

2) Make time for your family

3) Everyone needs encouragement- be kind

4) Never make decisions when you are depressed or discouraged

5) doubt never means yes

6) be open and honest- be transparent

7) answer all phone calls, mail and email

8.) don’t let anger be a pattern of your behavior

9) Few people make mistakes on purpose

10) Let your preaching be from the Bible

11) There is no excuse for being unprepared to preach

12) Don’t flirt with temptation ( Ephesians 4:27: 2 Corinthians 4:2)

13) Cooperate with your fellow believers

14) Be a good steward of your position, influence and all your experiences

15) Pour your life into a few people

16) Cherish and protect friendships

17) Give credit to others

18) Keep cpnfidences

19) Lead by example

20) No premadonnas in God’s service- you have to earn the right to be the leader

21) You’re not always right so admit it

Outreach Events

 

I know this is a long article but it really challenged me to evaluate what is a true outreach event and what is my plan to reach to those who do not know Christ.  I have become a really big Jonathan McKee fan lately.  A few weeks ago I read his book Do They Run When They See You Coming and I am currently reading Getting Students to Show Up.  This book will cause you to evaluate what you are doing to reach those outside the church walls.  Below I have posted  an excerpt from the book, if you are a pastor with the goal of reaching unchurched students definitely check out the book and go read the excerpt.

http://www.thesource4ym.com/BookGettingStartedChp2.asp

(This article is an excerpt from Jonathan’s new book GETTING STUDENTS TO SHOW UP.)

The word outreach is slapped onto the titles of a variety of programs. It’s a buzzword that’s probably thrown around a lot more than it’s actually thought about.

   I’ve been to hundreds of “outreach” programs where no reaching out took place. Instead, the purpose of these programs always seemed to be worship or helping Christians grow in their faith. Noble purposes, indeed-but not “outreach” by any means.

   I’ve spoken at “outreach” rallies where the first thing out of the emcee’s mouth is “How many of you are here to celebrate Jesus?”

   Think about that for a second.

   How many students who aren’t believers do you think came to that event to “celebrate Jesus”? Granted, many of these “rallies” are full of Christians who scream in excitement and yell in celebration, so the statement isn’t usually received poorly. But what’s wrong with this picture?

    I see two oversights:

  1. Why is our audience 90 percent Christians? We’re talking about an outreach program, right? At an outreach program we might want to draw teenagers who don’t believe in Jesus yet. Do you remember Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park? During that first uneventful tour of the park, he says, “Now eventually you might have dinosaurs on your dinosaur tour, right?” He taps on the camera. “Hello? Yes?”So why aren’t the “outreach kids” attending? Didn’t our church kids believe us when we said, “Bring your friends who need to hear about Jesus”? The sad truth: Our audience is often made up of the wrong students. No wonder they didn’t object when we yelled, “How many of you are here to celebrate Jesus?”Which leads us to our second blunder.
  2. If we’re trying to draw out unbelievers, then why are we talking to them as though they’re already Christians? Imagine you’re asked to emcee the MTV Music Awards. The arena is decorated. All of the hottest artists have walked the red carpet and taken their seats. The crowd is full of screaming music fans. Now the program begins, and you walk onstage and yell, “How many of you are here to celebrate Jesus?”Awkward.None of us would yell such a phrase to that crowd. So why do we do it at our “outreach” events?

The truth of the matter is this: Many of us label our programs “outreach,” but we don’t always draw the students we’re supposed to reach. Even if we do, we often talk to them as if they’re Christians. Why?

   What if some of the difficulty lies in the fact that we don’t really know much about this “animal” we’re attempting to tame? We’ve never taken the time to really look at our goals for this kind of programming and put it into words. We never took the time to define it.

Cost of Discipleship

 

In reading Shane Claiborne’s book The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical, many questions have filled my heart and mind. The question that lingered in my head as I fell asleep last night is what I have I had to sacrifice or lay down for the sake of following Christ? And most importantly what things am I unwilling to lay down for the sake of following Christ? I read as Shane reminds the reader that in many encounters with people, Jesus warned them that the cost of following Him was EVERYTHING; “…everything they had ever hoped for and believed in- their biological families, their possessions, even their very lives.”

He recants if someone looked at the call of Matthew, we would see that his call was to drop everything and follow Christ. Was that the call just for Matthew or is that the call for all of us? Isn’t our call to abandon all our pursuits for the sake of His pursuits and the pursuit of Him? We often define ourselves by the job we do when we should define ourselves by the person we are becoming as we draw near to Christ. Shane shares that he believes if Peter were asked what he was going to do when he grew up he would reply, ” Well I was going to be a fisherman, but then I met this dude and he messed all that up.”

Matthew 16:24-28Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

Allow me to be honest for a second, there isn’t much I have laid down, maybe career aspirations to be a coach or a probation officer but God has so replaced those desires with the chance to impact students through ministry. I know that serving God is more costly than I have made it. My prayer is that I will become all God desires for me to become and that whatever is lost or must be laid aside will be counted as loss compared to surpassing knowledge of knowing Christ Jesus.

In fear of you Jesus, I desire to follow you regardless of the cost.