Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Distractions


I find it so easy to get sidetracked.  I sit down to the computer to do write a message for student church then I find myself ten minutes later reading an article about manatees and the Florida Everglades.  How does this happen?  It is so easy to lose focus in life.  We are being bombarded with distractions.



I have found, in my past 25 years of church leadership, that Christians (self included) can get sidetracked and lose focus of what truly matters.  It’s easy to get in debates about things that in the end won’t change eternity.  It’s easy to allow emotions and feelings to move the focus from our purpose of sharing Christ to a self pity-party. 

Christians get side tracked by what this author says or did, by the color of the church’s new carpet, chairs vs. pews, small groups vs. Sunday school, music styles, and the list could go on and on. 

I get quickly sidetracked by complaints that have absolutely no impact on eternity. 

How do we keep from getting sidetracked?




Remember your purpose.  Why am I here?  What has God called me to do?  How have I been uniquely created and equipped by God to do what He wants me to do?  



Regain focus.  Quit looking over there when you should be looking towards Christ.  Satan is going to throw distractions at us left and right because he doesn’t want Christ followers to be successful in reaching others with the life changing good news of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s love.  Quit focusing on self and focus on the Savior.

Remind others.  Remind those around you and who you serve with that if something doesn’t impact eternity you are not going to waste your time with it.  Arguments, debates, styles of worship, the temperature of the fellowship hall.  Life is too short and our task at hand is huge.




Robing.  (sorry I wanted to write “suit up” but just had to use another “R”)  

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Ephesians 6:11
The best way to take out the enemy is to infiltrate and attack from within.  The devil is no dummy and he uses this technique to his advantage.  Often I find myself getting sidetracked by other believers, usually it is due to unchecked feelings and emotions.  It’s by not living under the control of the Holy Spirit and the result is living lives that don’t display the fruits of the spirit.  We have to be ready for attack and remember that the attack isn’t on us personally, the attack is for who we stand for and for focusing on our purpose.






Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Life is Hard



Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
Romans 12:12


Romans 12 is a great chapter full of what I would call a "to do" list. You should read it.

Life is not easy. It doesn't take long living this life to realize we will have times that hard. Sometimes it is our own fault and the result of decisions we have made. There are consequences to our actions and choices. Sometimes life is hard and we go through a tough time and it's no fault of our own. There are times that our struggle comes from the outside and we have no control over it.

This verse tells us what to do in those times. Here is the recipe:
1. Rejoice. Not put on a fake happy face and pretend everything is okay. Rejoice in our confident hope. We can, as Christ followers, rejoice because one day we will spend eternity with God the Father. When that day comes there will be no more struggles or trials of life. We can be confident in this because of the work Christ did on the cross.

2. Be patient. I'm the worst at patience. I can't stand waiting things out. I'm so bad that when I'm in the McDonald's drive thru I time them because I know it's "fast food" and they could certainly improve on how long it takes to get our order. As a society we are growing more impatient. We live in an instant gratification world. We must be patient during the tough times and understand that the One who we have confident hope in loves us and is in control.
God doesn't magically come along and pop us out of the trial.  We know that in the valley, the tough time, God is with us each step of the way and provides us His comfort and protection.  Realize He is right there with you.  Read through Psalm 23.

3. Pray. Not just once. Keep on praying. At the end of the day in our home I'm pretty tired, I'm the age of a grandad but I have 8 year old twins! Parents understand what I'm saying. At the end of each day our family sits down and we read a Bible story together and we pray together. I love hearing my children pray. My youngest is a praying dude. There are two kids he prays for each and every night, one is our compassion international child that we support and the other is a little girl who has cancer. Every night these two girls are in his prayer. He keeps on praying and as his father I love to hear him do this.
Same thing with our heavenly Father. He loves to hear you pray because when we pray we are talking to Him. It's conversation and what parent doesn't love having conversation with their kid?
This persistence in prayer shows God you need him and are trusting him.

Have you ever run out of gas on the road? I have once or twice. But there have been many times I've been running on fumes. Prayer can be the fumes that keep you going when you have run out of gas in life.
Life is hard and that is just a plain fact. There is no avoiding trouble and trials in this life. If you are in one of those life storms right now I pray you will put Romans 12:12 to practice. If you aren't in one of those storms keep this verse in mind because we all know the storm is coming.

 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

When tragedy strengthens your team

We are so focused on ministering to students we can tend to forget to minister to our awesome volunteers on our team.

Here are some suggestions when you have a team member experience tragedy or loss, hard times.

Pray.  Don’t make prayer the last resort but make prayer your first priority.  Pray and ask God to give strength, peace, healing to the one who is suffering.  Don’t just say, “I’ll pray for you.” but pray with the person.  Great encouragement can come when you hear someone pray for you.  It’s nice to hear “I’ll pray for you” but praying then and there takes that encouragement to a whole new level.

Don’t worry about what to say.  My wife and I have experienced some tragedies in our life together.  As I think back what spoke the most to me was not words but the hug.  The expressions of love and caring.  Our words can’t fix the issue and there is always that danger of saying the wrong thing.  A good hug and “I love you” can go a lot further than well intentioned cliche’s and words.

Give.  Give time to help.  Maybe offer to clean the house, run the kids around, babysit for an extended period.  When someone is hit with a health issue that takes them out of work this often means they are making no money so now on top of the stress of the illness is the financial stress.  What can be done?  Cook meals, get your team together and cook meals and deliver them.   Meals they can heat up.  Go grocery shopping together as a team and stock their pantry and fridge.  I don’t know what you spend each week on groceries but I know at my house it is one of the biggest expenses (12 to 15 gallons of milk a month is about fifty bucks or more).

Don’t just offer to help.  Show up and help.  People often say “let me know if I can do anything for you.”  But when we are on the other end we sometimes don’t know what to ask help with or what to do.  So show up with a plan and do it.

We hate tragedy.  Tragedy can be a time that draws individuals closer to their Lord, tragedy can also be at time for your team to really step up and be the body of Christ.  Tragedy can strengthen your team.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Holidays. What do you do with them?

We are heading into the holiday season.  I know, not Christmas, but April, May and June bring a few special Sundays.  We have Easter this weekend.  Mother’s Day is on May 14.  Memorial Day weekend Sunday, May 28.  Father’s Day is June 18.


Our approach to these holidays shows that we value family.

Students are busier now than they ever have been. 

Families are constantly on the go.  While I don’t think this busyness is healthy I realize that we as student pastors need to look for ways to minister and help families who are running in multiple directions at one time.  Canceling student ministry on those holiday weekends allows families to have some down time together, to actually rest and experience a sabbath together.



The volunteers in our student ministry serve every Sunday night, many of them also do some sort of ministry on Sunday morning as well.  We ask that their Sunday morning ministry is their secondary ministry that doesn’t require them to spend hours at the church on Sunday morning because they need to be back on Sunday evening for two and a half hours.  The holiday Sunday off for them allow them time as well to spend with their families.  This also shows our volunteers how much we value them and appreciate all they do in student ministry.

Honestly there are parents and volunteers in our church who wouldn’t miss if we still met on the holiday because some people feel such an obligation to be present even though in their heart they would rather be at home with their family on the holiday.



Ideas for these holidays:


  • Encourage families to get together with other families for lunch or picnic, some fellowship time together.


  • Meet at a park, very relaxed, no real plan and program, play some games together, picnic.


  • Create a family worship pdf for families to do together on that holiday.


  • Invite volunteers and their families over for a cookout at your home.


  • Focus on your own family and relax.  Something we don’t normally get to do on a Sunday.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Mission Trip Evening Devotions

This summer I will be taking our students to the island of Eleuthera on a mission trip.  The majority of the fifteen member team have been on the trip, only four newbies.  For most of the team this will be their third trip to Eleuthera.  Like camps and retreats even a mission trip can become a routine. 



We are changing up our morning quiet time journals and evening team meeting this year.  The past two trips we used two great mission trip journals from LeaderTreks.  In the mornings our students would do the morning devotion in the journal as well as the prayer journal.  At night the journal walks you through an evaluation of the day.



This year I ordered a different journal from LeaderTreks, Flipping Missions.  In this journal is a six week devotional journal that leads up to the trip, the six day journal for during the trip, then a six week journal for after the trip when we return home.

  Part of the goal in our trip is to help students establish the habit of having a quiet time.

My plan this year is to do more in the evening than just evaluate the day.  We are going to do a little Bible study/group devotion time based off the morning devotion and the evening reflection.  After that devotion time we will have some prayer time together.  Following prayer we will evaluate our day and our working together as a team.


We evaluate by asking:

What three things did we do well today?

What three things do we need to improve on?

What three steps will we take starting now to make those improvements?

Our first trip we just sort of showed up and went for it.  Our second year we tweaked some things to make improvements.  Now this will be our third year and we will make a few more adjustments to improve what we do and to help us work well together as a team.


What do you do for quiet time journals and devotions on your mission trips?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Getting in the way of ministry

“What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?”


Jethro gave his son-in-law Moses some great advice.  Jethro arrives on the scene and find Moses sitting and listening to disputes among the people.  From morning till night he was a judge, a mediator, and not getting much done because he was only focused on that task. (Deut 18)  Moses was meant to be a leader, not sit and listen to complaints all day.  So Jethro tells Moses to get out there and find some men to help him with this task.



We block the funnel of ministry at the top sometimes.  We get in the way of others getting in there and rolling up their sleeves and serving.   How do we block the funnel?



We think we know the best way to do it.   Maybe you do.  Maybe someone has a better way and more efficient and it would allow them to express their gift and allow you to focus on what God has created you to do.  Maybe they won’t do it just like you but in the end they get it done.



We think we work best alone.  No! Ministry is always better together.  Never serve alone, always serve with others.  People want to serve they just need to be given the opportunity.

We think that only we can do the task.
   Really?  You don’t think there is someone else in the body of Christ who can come up with new decorations for the stage?  You don’t think there is someone else that could write the small group discussion questions?  You don’t think there is someone else that can go grocery store and then prepare the food for youth group?  I love that phrase, “Do what you do best and delegate the rest.”

We think we have to come up with all the ideas
.   I sat last night with ministry leaders from our church and listened to their dreams for Nags Head Church.  They had some great ideas!  Let others dream, let others come up with ideas.  Eventually our brains get stale and new ideas from others can spark great ministry ideas.

We micro manage.  Turn the church loose to serve and don’t constantly tell them how to do their ministry.  Yes, train and equip them.  Yes, give input when asked.  Please step in if something they are doing will cause physical spiritual injury.  Other than that step back and enjoy watching people use their gifts.




Do you see the pattern.  As leaders we sometimes block the funnel of ministry and then wonder why people aren’t serving.  We can have control or growth but can’t have both.  I want to see growth more than I want to control everything.  Growth comes when the church gets to serve and do the ministry.



What are we really accomplishing here?  Why are we trying to do all this alone while the church stands around morning to evening waiting for an opportunity to experience the joy of serving?

Let’s agree to not block the funnel and get in the way of people serving.


Distractions

I find it so easy to get sidetracked.  I sit down to the computer to do write a message for student church then I find myself ten minut...