September 18, 2018


What Can Your Men's Group Give Back This Holiday Season?
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas (Nov. 23 - Dec. 21), the Men's NetWork is encouraging guys to lend a hand to those who need some help during this festive but often difficult season. Different from the annual April WORK DAY event, "Gives Back" is a chance for guys to "pay it forward" in response to the blessings they receive from God.

With this event, there's a little twist: there's a fun contest with three winning categories: 1) most creative service idea; 2) most community-oriented project; 3) best "holiday-themed" dressed group. Each group winner receives a $150 Amazon gift card. Also, participants will receive a new Men's NetWork stocking cap or one of our regular hats.

To get you going, here are six ideas you can consider.

1. Giving Back to a Men's or Women's Shelter
These safe havens have an ongoing need for materials for adults and children using their services. Your group can help meet this shortage by donating essential items in high demand. To do this, your men's group can break into different teams to solicit donations, collect items, pack kits, and distribute goods to the shelter.

Items can be packed in clear plastic bags or grocery sacks. Include things like shampoo; bars of soap; disposable razors; shaving cream; feminine hygiene products; toothbrushes and toothpaste; lip balm; combs; hats; gloves; sweaters; coats; blankets; toys; coloring books; crayons; socks; and LHM's illustrated kids' booklets and Advent devotions.

2. Giving Back to a Nursing Home or Retirement Center
These folks are truly appreciative when visitors drop by. Think about putting together Christmas stockings for them. You can fill them with items from any dollar-type store. After you've passed them out, why not sing a few Christmas carols as you stroll the hallways, wishing residents a Merry Christmas and God's blessings for the New Year.

Stockings can be filled with mints and hard candy; homemade snacks; packets of hot chocolate, tea or coffee; slipper socks; skin lotion; lip balm; and a few of LHM's Project Connect booklets and Advent devotions.

3. Giving Back Free Car Winterizing Services and Kits
There's nothing that says "practical" like free car services, especially during the hectic holiday season. Here your group can secure donations, collect items, pack kits, and serve at the event. Freebies can include checking antifreeze and oil levels (topping off fluids); checking tire pressure (filling tires with a portable air compressor); checking battery cables; and cleaning posts.

Helpful items to distribute are antifreeze; oil; windshield wiper fluid; tire pressure gauges; ice scrapers; jumper cables; emergency roadside kits; bags of kitty litter or sand (for better traction); and LHM's Advent devotions.

4. Giving Back to a Veterans Hospital
Over the course of their lives, these dedicated men and women have often paid a high physical price for their active-duty military service through injuries, disabilities, and various traumatic stress disorders. You can convey a small token of your indebtedness to them for their time in the Armed Forces with a visit and the gift of a handmade care package. Gift packs for vets are fun to put together.

Care packages can include items like crossword puzzle books; beef jerky; paperbacks; chocolate; candy bars; an easy-to-read Bible; hot sauce; trail mix; a signed Christmas card with a handwritten note; and some LHM Project Connect booklets and Advent devotions.

5. Giving Back to Kids Who Need Toys
What's more traditional at Christmas than giving kids toys? These may be low-income or disadvantaged kids at homeless shelters, long-term hospitals, or those in a family or two that you know will not have much of a Christmas this year in terms of presents. Once you determine the kinds of gifts you'll get based on the age and gender of each child, you group can get to work.

Doing a kids' gift giveaway will require selecting and collecting toys (many second-hand shops for children have excellent toys in great shape); gift wrapping the items (spouses and girlfriends may be handy here); including a Christmas card along with some illustrated kids' booklets and Advent devotions from LHM; and delivering to families.

6. Giving Back a Christmas Dinner Basket
Of course, with Christmas comes the traditional meal, which is always a sizeable expense. For many, of course, it's simply not even possible on their budget. Here your men's group can gather the ingredients for a truly special dinner and deliver these goodies right to the front door of the families receiving them.

Meal baskets can include a frozen turkey or ham; boxed stuffing; canned cranberry sauce; canned vegetables and fruit; a can or jar of gravy; pumpkin pie (or filling and crust); macaroni and cheese (for the kids); an aluminum roaster pan; a pie tin (if prepared pie isn't included); and a copy of LHM's Advent devotions, along with the video Bible study, The Real St. Nick: Leader, Legend or Lie.

Be looking for our registration page and more information in the days ahead.

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Webinars Shine Light on Barna Research
If you missed it, last Thursday was the first of three live webinars featuring Dr. Tony Cook, executive director of U.S. Ministries at LHM. He's covering our Spiritual Conversations in the Digital Age monograph. This webinar series digs into our findings about the changes to faith sharing over the past 25 years.

You can participate by clicking here.

While technology and rapid cultural shifts have altered the face of evangelism, the Great Commission remains. This FREE webinar presents findings from joint research done by LHM and Barna about the state of spiritual conversations today. It explores changes in how and why people share the unchanging Good News in the digital age. During the presentation LHM staff will be answering questions followed by a LIVE Q&A with Dr. Cook after the presentation.

The next two sessions are as follows:

Session Two (Digital Faith Interactions): Thursday, October 11th
Session Three (Eager to Share): Thursday, November 8th

Each session will begin at 7 PM CST.

If you are unable to join us for a live session, you can access a recording of the webinar by creating a free account LHM Learn. You can do this by clicking here. Once you have logged into your account, you will be able to access the webinar following the live broadcast.

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Think LHM Learn for Personal Reflection, Group Studies
Online courses from LHM are ideal for digging into a particular topic, exploring it, and coming away with insights to use in your everyday life. Courses like Then & Now: The Nature of Spiritual Conversations, Follow Me: The Calling of Jesus, and Watch. Read. Reflect: The Reformation are designed to be engaging and interactive for users, giving them valuable information to apply immediately.

Courses from LHM Learn fall into five different faith-strengthening categories. Here they are:

* Christian Foundations (the basics of Christianity from biblical, theological, and historical perspectives)
* Cultural Concepts (resources to understand the different demographics, cultures, and religions in our world today)
* Everyday Insights (thoughts about the good and bad that life throws our way)
* Outreach Essentials (personal evangelism and tools to reach others with the Gospel)
* Spiritual Reflections (devotional thoughts meant to strengthen and encourage)

To find out more about these thought-provoking courses and how to empower your faith and witness, click here.

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Setting Limits Is the Thrust of Screen-Wise Kids
What mom or dad today hasn't grappled with the question of How much computer time is too much?

Coming in as number eight in LHM's pocket-sized kids' booklet series, Screen-Wise Kids touches on a challenge that resonates with many of us: helping kids understand the internet is not all there is. While the internet is a tremendous resource, the takeaway in Screen-Wise Kids is that it requires discipline and management from both kids and parents to use computers and the internet wisely.

This is an excellent booklet for young parents grappling with the idea of setting time limits on internet use for their kids. To bring this message home, Suzie Sallee and others from LHM have created the rhyming verses, while illustrator Masaru Horie's wonderful artwork brings the words to life.

You can preview this booklet by clicking here.

You can get a pack of 25 booklets for only $7 plus shipping. To order these booklets, go to the LHM store by clicking here, or you can call us at 1-800-876-9880.

Remember, too, Halloween's coming! These booklets make great items to pass out along with your candy.

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THRED: Where Ideas Take Shape and Sometimes Get a Little Weird
With blog posts like "Bingeing, Self-Control, and the "Great Life-Waster,""45 Lessons I Didn't Learn in School," and "Marshmallows and Delusions of Grandeur" THRED values readers' time by offering content that is engaging and entertaining.

At THRED you'll find ongoing conversations about all sorts of issues in the marketplace today. These can range from sex and the world at large to school and cultivating friendships. THRED thrives on conversations among people who differ in perspective but who share an interest in learning more about others and the world we all live in.

For many, THRED's initial point of contact is its Facebook page, which you can access by clicking here. This is where you will find an open invitation to jump into the discussion and tell us what you're thinking.

At the THRED website, there are articles dealing with relationships, community, society, God, Christianity, and other relevant interests. These can be found by clicking here. At the THRED homepage, there's a minute-long video that will give you quick snapshot of what this engaging ministry is all about.

THRED ... where your voice matters.

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What's So Big About Church?
For many of us as kids, church was the place we found ourselves Sunday mornings, week after week. It was a habit many of our parents brought forward into their lives, having gone to church regularly when they were children.

When it comes to church, there are a number of terms used to indicate one's association with a local congregation. We have the "churched" (regular attenders), the "unchurched" (non-attenders), and the "dechurched" (former attenders). If somebody hasn't already, it seems we could also include the "pre-churched" (as the name implies) and the "re-churched" (returnees to the fold).

When I talk to non-church-going buddies, it seems one of the reasons they don't go (besides not feeling a particular need to, not having any denominational tie in particular, not interested in the whole singing and preaching and praying routine, and not being a big fan of that "crowd" in general) is that the times when they actually attended a church service were often awkward, uncomfortable or, very likely, both.

I've felt that way, too.

And I try to remember that when I'm there now. When I see someone as an island of one in the middle of a sea of people, I try to reach out to that person with a quick hello and handshake. When I'm asked by a well-meaning preacher to introduce myself and greet the person next to me, I try to do it (though I must admit there are times when I still squirm). When I'm walking through the church hall between groups of people chatting and mixing, I hold my head high, smile, and put forth a pleasant demeanor.

And often when I do this ("putting it into manual" is what I call it), there are results. People lighten up, and connections begin to form. This acting like a loving, caring person can actually start an interior change. You see that people are not your opponents but, rather, they are potential friends and allies. And, oddly enough, it all begins with a few proactive moves in the right direction.

Surely, Jesus must have experienced something like this. Surrounded by people from various walks of life, He acted in love, drawing others close with a willingness to discover more about them. He'd drill down a little, ask questions, get to know them better -- always eager to talk about the things that really mattered.

I don't always -- or even mostly -- do it, but that's what I'd like to be doing at church: honing my people skills, finding ways to care, being more like Jesus.

That's kind of what church seems like it should be.

How about it? What do you get out of church? Is it a place where we can become more like Jesus? You can let us know by clicking here.

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