How can I pray for you? How can I help families see Jesus?

IMG_0005I must confess my prayer life is not all that good.  I have times when my prayer life is awesome.  Mostly I forget, fall asleep, or just plain don’t have the words.  To be real honest with you all prayer is something I have to structure. I need a purpose.  I need something to be doing.

Here is what I am going to do.  I am going to pray for you.  I want to spend this year in prayer for you.  I want to be in prayer for the families I serve in ministry.  I want to have God work through this means of talking with him so that you may be filled with Jesus.

This is probably the most important thing I can do for the families of the congregation I serve.  I am going to pray for them. No not all of them at once. Not the generic prayer for families each day but individuals.  I am going to pray for just a few each week.  It will probably take me the whole year to get through them all.  At this point I am not sure how many it will be but I plan to pray for 3 families a day.  I want to spend the whole day thinking about those three families and keeping them in constant prayer.  They will get a message from me a week ahead of time letting them know I will be praying for them, and asking if they have any needs.  Then I want to follow up and let them know I prayed for them.  I pray God will allow me to hear of stories of his work in their lives, but if not I want them to know someone cares.  That Jesus loves them.  I will be praying for their requests, but also that their faith may grow, that they would gather at God’s house and hear about Jesus.  I pray Jesus would be a part of their lives.

So what do I ask of you?  Well could you pray for me?  Could you pray I continue to do it.  When I am busy, or tired or lazy help me to continue to do it.  Help me to say nothing is more important than to pray for you.  Let us join together in prayer so that the world may know Jesus.

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. Ephesians 1:15-16 NIV

Family friendly is more than Children’s messages!

DSC_0530So I did a children’s message this past Sunday.  I normally don’t do them in worship.  In fact I try to avoid them.  This past Sunday for a worship service in the park it made a lot of sense to do it.  I think children’s messages have a place in worship services.  I think we shouldn’t do them often. I think for many of us we do them because we think if we want to be family friendly we should do them.  I think this is a mistake. Doing a children’s message doesn’t make one family friendly.  It just can be a neat way to interact with kids in worship. And in a park setting it made a whole lot of sense to share Jesus with them in this way.

I think getting Kids involved in worship is important.  I think we have a whole lot of others ways to do that in a regular worship service that are far better. I think we might be missing the point when we think we are family friendly by doing children’s messages.  You see I think we need to think about children and families as often as possible throughout the whole service not just a three minute moment of cuteness. So here are some things I think we all should think about in worship to help make it more kid and family friendly. I think their are three things we should do to help kids participate more.

First, repetition in important. It allows kids who can’t read to participate. It could be through liturgy, lords prayer, contemporary worship songs that are simple, etc. repetition allows kids to know the words and participate.

Second we should allow kids who are squirmy to participate. Maybe do a confession that allows them to move around the room. Once I had kids bring a rock to the front of the room and drop it in a sand pit.  We were confessing using John chapter 8 as our reference to scripture. Having them move and be involved is important for worship with children.

Third and probably the easiest  way to share Jesus with kids in worship is to use pictures and visuals in worship.  Stained glass was used to tell the story of Jesus. It still is today.  You could use pictures and other visuals on screen or in the bulletin. Visuals give students something to see and focus on with the words. It helps the little ones see Jesus.

Let us all strive to share Jesus with the whole family of faith.  Children’s messages can be good, but we have lots of other ways to be family friendly and share Jesus.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Matthew 19:14

Stripping paint… How ministry can be tough when you don’t get to see the end of the project.

DSC01756This past weekend I was on a retreat with High school students from Big Rapids, Muskegon, and Grand Rapids. I loved it.  I loved talking about Christ with them and on the first night we spent talking about the term whatever.  We focused on whatever we do, we do it for Jesus.  If we hold the door open we do if for Jesus, If we clean up after dinner we do it for Jesus, If we scrape paint we do it for Jesus.

We scraped a lot of paint.  In fact when we arrived we had thought we would be painting.  We came to finish this great project.  Instead we spent 8 hours scraping one building.  It was hard work.  The building was build in 1957 and had at least 6 coats of paint on it.  The process was spread paint remover goop on building, wait 30 minutes scrape, get off a layer or two,  and repeat.  If you waited too long it got dry and stopped working. At one point someone said “Wow this is hard work.” And I said “Yes and we are paying to do it!” It was hard and to be honest. I am not sure we all had the satisfaction of seeing a completely striped building ready for paint. Being the scraper of paint is tough work and not very satisfying.

So I think scraping paint reminds a lot of being a disciple of Jesus. Sharing Jesus with students, friends, families, enemies and everyone in between is tough work.  Sometimes when we spread the good news you don’t get to see it finished. even after you spend a lot of time on it.  We would love for it to happen so quickly. We would love to be able to pray, talk and conversion happens.  You don’t always get to see the beautiful building God is working them into.  You see siding that looks beat up.  You see the little bits of stubborn paint on a person that just isn’t wiped clean.  Sometimes at the end of your time with the building, you don’t see the finished project just a building you worked on.  I can be so frustrating.

I tried to tell the students this weekend.  This project isn’t complete.  We did what God had planned for us to complete.  We followed Jesus. We served and one day the whole project will be finished.  It wasn’t our job to finish it was are call to start the project.

As you think about that person, or family who needs to hear about Jesus, and are frustrated that the job isn’t done remember we all play a part and sometimes we don’t get to see the finish just are part of the process.

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  1 Corinthians 3:5-7 ESV