Jo Bender

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Great leaders encourage, inspire, and challenge us, but those leadership skills must be developed. Do you have what it takes to be a great leader?

On this week's Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with Dr. Hans Finzel about the key success factors of influence, and the positive traits that all of us should master in oder to lead well. 

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo Bender's interview with Dr. Hans Finzel. Or, join Jo live every Friday at Noon on AM 900. Listen to previous podcasts of Connecting Faith on myfaithradio.com

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On this week's Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with Brian Barcelona, founder of The Jesus Club. He tells us how God is working to bring about a revival in our nation’s schools and shares how we can be a part of it.

Brian Barcelona answered the call to start ‘Jesus Clubs’ in public schools to help high school students find and develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. He shares examples of how students' lives have been changed as a result of hearing the gospel message for the first time.

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo Bender's interview with Brian Barcelona. Or, join Jo live every Friday at Noon on AM 900 / 90.7 FM. Listen to previous podcasts of Connecting Faith on myfaithradio.com

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Even when we are going through difficult life circumstances, we can still experience happiness. Author and Bible teacher Lisa Harper reminds us that happiness doesn't depend on life's circumstances, but is more dependent on the posture of our heart towards God. 

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo Bender's interview with Lisa Harper. Or, join Jo live every Friday at Noon on AM 900 / 90.7 FM. Listen to previous podcasts of Connecting Faith on myfaithradio.com

 

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Do you struggle sharing your faith with others? What if it were more about having a conversation and asking questions than memorizing a script.  Author and Missions Director Holly Melton, of Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), reminds us that it's important to God for help, and trust that the Holy Spirit will equip us with the words to say. 

 

Click here for a link to the podcast of Jo Bender's show. Or, catch Jo live every Friday afternoon for Connecting Faith at 12 noon on AM 900 / 90.7 FM on Faith Radio Network/KTIS. For more podcasts of Connecting Faith, Live the Promise with Susie Larson, Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram, and more, go to myfaithradio.com

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Are you a good listener? This week on Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talked about communication with relationship experts Mark and Susan Merrill. According to their research, one of the top mistakes that husbands and wives make is that they don’t always listen well to each other. This often leads to communication barriers and hurt feelings. 

 

You can listen to the podcast of Jo's show by clicking here, or catch Jo live every Friday at 12:00 p.m. CST on KTIS' Faith Radio Network AM 900 / 90.7 FM 

 

 

 

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Sometimes the trials of life steal our energy to the point of total exhaustion. But in the midst of carrying heavy burdens, we can still cling to the promises of God.

This week on Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talked about pain and suffering with authors Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton, who each suffer with chronic pain and disease. Their shared experience with pain also has a shared hope in the goodness of God. 

You can listen to the podcast of Jo's show by clicking here,or catch Jo live every Friday at Noon on KTIS' Faith Radio Network AM 900 / 90.7 FM 

Today Jo is interviewing Hans Finzel about the Top Ten Ways to be a Great Leader. Listen in at 12 Noon CST.

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As my kids have been counting down the days to summer vacation, I have been counting them down too. As a teacher, I too look forward to the end of the year—a break from lesson plans, grading, and lectures. I look forward to three months of rest, rejuvenation, and refueling. Everyone has their favorite time of the year. Summer is definitely mine.

 

But wait… I have kids of my own…and they require my attention. Perhaps rest and relaxation will need to be redefined.

 

When my kids were young, I remember wondering how in the world I was going to keep the little cherubs busy for 15 hours a day, 12 weeks in a row. I set up an elaborate calendar of playdates, swim lessons, and activities to keep their minds and bodies active. I tried to make every day a fun adventure. I compiled a list each summer of places we’d visit on sunny days, and places we’d go on rainy days. I took trips to my parents’ cabin, trips to McDonalds, and trips to Daddy’s office—just to let him know how much fun we were having. My kids loved summer, and wanted it to last forever. And part of me loved it too. But by the beginning of August, I was praying for deliverance from my scheduled craziness and together time. The start of the school year felt like a vacation from my summer vacation. 

 

My kids are older now, a teen and a pre-teen. Summer feels different now, and I feel different too. As I look forward to the end of the school year and the start to the greatest 12 weeks of the year, I’ve been doing some planning. But this year’s planning does not involve a lot of the things it used to. This time I’ve made a list of what I’m not going to do. I tried to keep it to a top 5, but I somehow made it to a top 6. Feel free to add your own to the list.

 

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Do you struggle to find lasting friendships? In a world where we can unfriend each other with the swipe of a finger, how do we find friendships that we can trust to last?

This week on Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talked with author Lisa-Jo Baker on the secret to finding and keeping lasting friendships.  

You can listen to the podcast of Jo's show here, or catch Jo live every Friday at Noon on KTIS' Faith Radio Network AM 900 / 90.7 FM

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Have you ever prayed to love someone you don't really want to forgive?  

Friday on Connecting Faith, Jo spoke with Deidre Riggs, who specializes in bringing unity to our fractured relationships and polarized communities.  

 

How do we forgive those who may have wronged us, and how can we foster understanding between groups or individuals who believe something different than we do?  

 

A challenging conversation about self-preservation vs. opening ourselves up for deep conversations and deep rewards. 

 

You can catch Jo Bender each Friday at 12 noon CST on Faith Radio Network (the AM arm of KTIS). Click here to listen to Jo's interview with Deidre Riggs, or catch the podcast of Connecting Faith and many other programs like Live the Promise with Susie Larson, Just Thinking with Ravi Zacharias, or Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram at myfaithradio.com

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Moms have a special influence in the lives of their sons. So how can we help raise our boys to be men of character? Author Rick Johnson joined Jo Bender today on Connecting Faith to talk about the role moms play in developing qualities in our sons like honesty, respect, humility, and more. 

 

Listen to the podcast here

or catch Jo live every Friday at Noon on KTIS' Faith Radio Network AM 900 / 90.7 FM.

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Do you have a hard time surrendering control of your life to God? If so, you are not alone. On today's Connecting Faith, Jo talks with author Shannon Popkin about what it means to have control issues and how to remember that our story is really God's story. 

Check out the podcast of Jo's show here:

http://myfaithradio.com/2017/surrendering-control-life/

 

You can listen to Jo on Connecting Faith live every Friday at noon on Faith Radio/KTIS AM900 or 90.7 FM

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I was always a little nervous about praying out loud in a group. Even praying a dinner blessing would sometimes cause a bit of stress. I would worry that I was somehow doing it wrong. The words always sounded fine in my head but when they left my mouth they were somehow less than lovely. I wanted to take them back, to edit, and then put forth my prayer in perfect grammar and proper theology.

 

I have tried acronyms in order to craft the perfect prayer: P.R.A.I.S.E., ACTS, PRAY, P.R.A.Y.E.R. They are all wonderful tools and have brought great clarity to my prayer time. But for me, I find myself holding back. I find myself more concerned with the format than I do with the subject.

 

At least I know I’m not alone. Maybe you’ve struggled too? Jesus taught his disciples to pray. They wondered how to communicate with the God who loved them, so Jesus encouraged them to come to him whenever they felt a need. He wanted them to know that the door was always open.

 

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)

 

There have been other times in my life when I can’t seem to stop the words from spilling out. These prayers may not have any continuity. There is no structure. But these prayers are real as well.

 

Many of the psalms are laments that come out of times of great distress and trouble. They are unashamed cries for help, for salvation, and for rescue. David used prayer to cry out to God. I’m so grateful that he did. It gives me license to cry out too.

 

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help… (Psalm 18:6)

 

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck… I am worn out calling for help… My eyes fall, looking for my God. (Psalm 69:1-3)

 

In 1 Samuel, we hear of Hannah’s prayer. She is praying with a mixture of praise, wonder, pain, and pleas. She is so desperate to hear from the Lord that she goes right to the temple. But there were certain behavior expectations for a woman at that time and she doesn’t want to violate any of the social norms. So she prays without making a sound. She motions, she moves her lips, she shows great expression and emotion…so much so that the priest takes her for being drunk. She laid it all out, without even voicing a word.

 

I heard one friend say that sometimes she gets in her car and just has to “barf it out before God.” She just lets it go without thinking about who might be watching.

 

Is it okay to use the word God and barf in the same sentence? It sounds strange to me. It can’t possibly fit the format.

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I was determined to learn a new language, even if I was well past the age of a typical college student. But I found that I struggled retaining many pieces of information—from simple vocabulary to complex verb conjugations. My professor noticed my difficulty and gave me a simple suggestion, “Study right before bed,” he said. “Your brain functions well while you’re sleeping.”

 

After years of pulling all-nighters as a graduate student, I found this concept difficult to believe. But a recent sleep study published by Notre Dame found that studying before sleep had some significant memory benefits. The study tested college students who were divided into two groups—those who were given information to memorize at 9 am, followed by 10 hours of wakefulness; and those who were given information to memorize at 9 pm, followed by 10 hours of sleep. Those who studied the information and went right to sleep could recall that information 10 hours later and were even able to process complex information and processes while they slept. Those who studied that information during the daytime were less able to recall even simple formulas and vocabulary.

 

Could it be true? Could it be possible…that I just needed to study and then sleep? I could hear mothers across the country rejoicing…college students celebrating.  I thought I owed it to my professor to try it.

 

I started going through my language materials for about 30 minutes before bedtime. The plan was working! I began waking with the vocabulary still intact. I even conjugated a couple of verbs over breakfast.

 

If this could work for my vocabulary, what would happen if I applied this same technique to memorizing and understanding Scripture? If I filled my heart and mind with the truth of God’s Word—even just a snippet—could my mind process that information overnight so that I woke with a clearer understanding of who I was in Christ?

 

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According to a recent Pew Research estimate, there are about 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States. This provides a great opportunity for the body of Christ to reach out to our Muslim neighbors, friends and co-workers. 

 

This week on Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with Samya Johnson of Call of Love Ministries, who says we can’t forget to point people towards the heart of the gospel message and savior of the world.

 

Listen to a podcast of Jo's program by visiting http://myfaithradio.com/2017/ministering-muslims/ or by clicking here. 

 

Connecting Faith is aired every Friday afternoon at Noon on Faith Radio Network/KTIS Radio. You can listen at AM 900 / 90.7 FM here in the Twin Cities or online at MyFaithRadio.com

 

We will be posting Jo's weekly podcast here on Heart Matters Publishing. Enjoy the show!

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My son came home from school one day and grabbed the dust pan and broom. I had wondered if this boy who rarely jumps into chores without my prompting had suddenly become responsible and independent during the course of the school day. As I was getting ready to sit down and congratulate myself for training him right, I heard him say, “Got it!” With that declaration, he grabbed a Ziploc bag from his pocket and carefully poured in the dust bunnies he had collected from under our couch. 

 

By the expression on my face, he could see that I was quite confused. “It’s for science,” he said. “We are studying what kind of stuff makes up dust. We’re dissecting it!”

 

I didn’t know if I should be proud or offended that he knew just where to find these suspicious little dust-bunnies. I thought that I’d been successful at keeping those little buggers hidden. When it was time to host a party or even just a friend or two, I would take great pains to go through the house collecting and eliminating these dusty little reminders that people actually live in my home. I much prefer creating the impression that my family is so squeaky clean and happy that even the dust bunnies don’t gather here. 

 

But my son knew better. He knew just where to find the shady characters. And now, he was going to dissect the very dirt that can expose me for what I am…a hider, a fake, a person who needed help. 

 

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Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” – (Matthew 14:31)

 

My heart was beating wildly as I watched my son stand at the edge of a small cliff off the coast of southern Greece. The beautiful turquoise waters beckoned him to jump, but his feet said “no.”  While I had watched seven older cousins make the leap, I wondered if giving permission to my youngest to jump off a cliff might have not been my best parenting decision.

 

 

Fear was gripping his little mind. There was the fear of physical harm if the jump didn’t go well, and the fear of humiliation if he decided to crawl back down the cliff. After all, his brother and cousins had already made the leap.

 

I tried to yell up words of encouragement when I remembered years ago, trying to get him to jump off the diving board at our local pool. If I remained on the side of the pool, he would jump off the board sideways, narrowly missing the edge of the pool. But when I swam out beyond the diving board, then he would jump out safely and swim right to me. 

 

 

I immediately left the side of the cliff where I was safely watching from afar and swam out to where he would ideally land. I said, “Just jump out to me and swim my way, just like we used to do at the pool. Don’t look down, just look at me. I’ll be right here.” 

 

 

What happened next was a combination of sheer terror and sheer delight (mine and his) as I watched my son leap from the edge of the cliff and into the water in front of me. Within seconds, he emerged from the brilliant blue, wide eyed and smiling. He swam right to me and screamed, “I did it!” He may have doubted the water, but he trusted me at my word, that I’d be there when he came up.  

 

In his gospel, Matthew tells a story about the disciple Peter, who also towed the line between fear and trust. 

 

When the disciples find themselves out in their boat caught in a treacherous storm, they see Jesus coming out to them, walking on the water.  As if this isn’t scary enough, Peter stretches his fear and faith a little further. Peter calls out to Jesus, “Lord, if it’s you, ask me to come to you.” And Jesus says, “Come.” So, Peter swings his feet over the side of the boat, carefully setting his feet down on something that should have engulfed him, and miraculously, stands up. Then Peter begins to take tentative steps toward Jesus. He looks forward. Although I have no way of knowing, I picture Jesus keeping Peter’s gaze with an expression of encouragement as if to say, “Keep walking!” 

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I like the concept of setting some resolutions for the new year. I feel like January is a time of reset, a chance to take a deep breath and head into the next year with a plan to become someone, well…better.

 

Numerous polls and articles list the top resolutions. Some people want to be thinner, some stronger, some wiser, some wealthier. Some want to be more generous, while others want to read the Bible more. Most of these goals have something in common—people want to be better versions of themselves. Let’s face it, we all want to improve. And the start of a new year gives us an opportunity to start fresh.

 

After all, the writers in the Bible are continually encouraging us to try and follow Christ’s example, reminding us to be…better.

 

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14)

 

Julius Caesar instituted New Year's Day on January 1 to honor Janus, the two-faced god who looks backwards into the old year and forwards into the new. The custom of New Year’s resolutions began in ancient times, as the Romans made resolutions with a moral bent—mostly to be good to others. To them, Janus was the god of beginnings. 

 

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Amidst the wonderful smells of turkeys basting, gravy simmering, and pies baking, I smelled something foul this past weekend. I caught a whiff of it on the way to Grandma’s house, passing homes basking in the glow of twinkling lights and plastic nativity scenes. I stole a sniff of it when I noticed the peppermint creamer served alongside the caramel macchiato and pumpkin spice varieties. I couldn’t ignore the disgusting odor settling into our conversation around the Thanksgiving table as well-meaning aunts and uncles asked my kiddos what they were hoping might show up under the tree next month. The scent is not easy to ignore. It’s the sneaky stench of Christmas panic.

 

This panic likes to boil up like a pressure cooker. It starts sometime in November and increases in strengths and potency as we move into December. I don’t really know if this sense of panic is only reserved for mothers. I can’t imagine this impending dread is gender specific. I just know that it’s real, that it’s palpable, and that it is already threatening to overtake that sweet, lingering aroma of Thanksgiving thankfulness—a time that we are supposed to give only gratitude. No gifts. Just thanks.

 

I have decided that this year, I’m going to be intentional about keeping the air around me fresh from the stench. I made a choice to at least preserve the month of November as stench-free. This is not easy as my stack of Christmas cards sit unlabeled on the dining room table. The smell is difficult to ignore as I open up the paper stuffed with shopping ads and coupons. The aroma of greediness and busyness threaten to overpower my sweet smell of peace. But I am trying. This year, I am trying to ignore the sneaky stench of Christmas panic.

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Do you ever feel like the Old Testament gets a bad rap? The name "Old" doesn't help. But this first testament is not lacking in its explanation of God, His character, and His plan for the world. So why do we have two testaments? Today on Connecting Faith, Theology Professor John Goldingay joins me to talk about how each testament speaks for itself, and answers the question... Do we need them both? If you miss the show at 12:00pm on AM 900 / 90.7 FM, you can always catch the podcast later today. http://myfaithradio.com/programs/connecting-faith/

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Think you need a degree in Theology to teach your kids to know the Lord? Hardly. My guest on Wednesday offered up some easy-to-do ways to help you and your kids grow in their faith. If you missed it live, here is the podcast on the book, Dedicated: Training your children to trust and Follow Jesus. http://myfaithradio.com/2015/discipling-children/ 
 
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