School is coming…For some it is already here…For some parents it is a great day, for some parents their will be tears . For some kids it is a struggle filled with anxiety and for some kids they just cant wait to be back at school with their friends. It is a mix of anxiety, joy, fear, and excitement for a new year.
One things we will all experience this year is the busyness that comes with a new school year. It seems to me that every year, sports gets more intense, classes get harder for kids, the schedule for ministry even seems to get more and more intense. All these things may be amazing opportunities for learning, exercise, friendships, and fun. These things can make it almost impossible to have opportunities to share a meal, share your day, or just find times to be home and slowing down together with your family.
Somewhere as a family we all learned that to be the best parents we have to run, run, run. We have to be in everything, be there for everyone, and give our kids the most experiences possible. I am here to tell you we are all wrong on this front. Yes experiences for our kids are great. It is important to give them times to succeed, and fail, to find joy, and sadness so we can help them navigate those moments before they become adults. The thing I think we miss is how can we also teach them to rest. How do we teach them to slow down enjoy life with the people God has put in our lives.
This fall our Church is starting something new. We are calling it Family rest nights. The second and forth Wednesdays of each month during the school year we have opened the school and Church schedule so that no events happen in the building after 4pm. We want to model for families to be home and with each other gathered around His word. I love food so for us it will include a meal. We plan to send out emails with devotional questions, scripture readings, and prayers for the family. The goal is to help model family times of rest. My prayers is this will help families slow down and be. Slow down and be in the presence of each other and Jesus. I know I need to have those times of rest. Join us in resting in Jesus and growing together as a family.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42 NIV)
This week I have spent most of my days talking with people. I actually didn’t get as much work accomplished. I suppose most some think we have a great day when we have a list to accomplish each day. I have a list but I am not sure I completed too many of those things today. So tonight after I put the kids to bed and started getting work I didn’t get done today. I had a thought.
This past week has reminded me of a simple truth. I have never regretted spending time talking is someone over getting work done. Never and I mean never have I had a regret of looking at a person sitting at a table looking down and thought I don’t have time to talk with them. My greatest joy is sitting with people and helping them find hope in a situation through Jesus.
This week I had a student come talk with me. It is not abnormal. In fact I happened fairly often. Sometimes it is students and sometimes it is colleagues, or parents. Most of the time when someone really needs me I find God sends them to me during a time when I don’t have the time. When they walk in I am in my head thinking I really don’t have the time because i have to get this project done, but God sent you here so I will make it work. I will say it again.
I have never regretted spending time talking with someone over getting work done.
So here is the thing. For those of you reading this I pray that you know people care for you. I pray you know I care. I pray that as we walk down the halls, and through our daily lives we take the time to talk. We take the time to look at those around us and ask how they are doing? The work will get done. I promise it will. Lets be the Jesus to those around us. Let us take the time to really hear each other and listen and care for each other.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:11-12 NIV
I love VBS. Now that I have that off my chest… For some people VBS is a painful experience they have to live through. For some youth workers VBS is some of the hardest times of their lives. That is not me. I love VBS. I love those 15 hours of pure joy over five wonderful days. I love the laughter, joy and Jesus we get to share with students for that week. It is some of the best times in the world.
I probably love VBS so much because it taught me something about Jesus that I will never forget and still love today. You see I came from a Church that did VBS over the top awesome. For a Church that worshiped 300 on a Sunday we had well over 550 students at VBS. We packed the place to where we had kids everywhere and adults had to stand because you couldn’t sit is a pew. (Luckily the fire marshal never showed up because I am sure we broke fire code) But seriously, VBS to this day still brings me back to some amazing times in my faith journey and I learned some amazing things about Jesus those weeks.. We are now 20 days from VBS here at St. John and I can’t wait.
I learned one very important thing at VBS growing up that I pray is something I teach kids every year. I learned Loving Jesus is fun. Knowing Jesus is fun. Singing and dancing for Jesus is fun. Jesus brings us joy. Once when I was a teen at VBS serving in music leading I was walking in late to the morning program because I was picking up my friend. When we walked in the kids were singing and the walls were literally shacking. Not the speakers were cranking… The kids were singing so loud you could see the walls shake. To this day I cannot get that image out of my head. I want my kids and all kids to sing so loud for Jesus the walls shake. I want them to know him so much that the joy of His grace spreads to our community and world. I look forward to sharing in the joy of the Lord in a few short weeks. I am almost giddy with excitement.
Today as you walk with Jesus remember the joy we have in Christ. Share that Joy with others. Maybe you aren’t in that season of Joy but I pray you can get there. I pray you can see the walls shaking because the joy of Jesus is being shared….Oh and if you are in Rochester Michigan come join us as we share Jesus with some amazing kids. I promise you will hear a joyful noise!!
So last year my family tried to read the bible in a year. We made it to April without many hick ups. Then we missed a few days and my wife and I kept reading through it until almost August. Then we fell off the wagon completely. Maybe it was because we moved or maybe it was because we lost focus on the goal. So here we are again ready to start a new year and I am determined yet again to read the scriptures as a family. I have the one year bibles out and ready to begin again. So who wants to join us. Who is ready to do this again. My goal is to post each week the readings we have read and the readings we are going to read for anyone who wants to join us. We may not make it the whole year and we may not make it a month but I am determined to keep my family in the word of Christ this year. I am determined to stay in the word myself this year.
It will be a journey. It will be funny at times, it will be awkward at times, and I guarantee Satan will be on the prowl trying to get us off the scriptures but I know my God is bigger. I know being in the Word is so good for my family I am praying Christ will push us to the finish line this time. So join us. You may miss a week, you may miss a month, But I would encourage you as we encourage each other as families to be in the Word. My God bless you this year as you walk with Him. God is good and in His word we are reminded of the work he is doing in our lives.
You can download a daily reader from: http://www.oneyearbibleonline.com/readingplan/oneyearbiblereadingplan.pdf
Week one readings:
January 1 Genesis 1:1-2:25 Matthew 1:1-2:12 Psalm 1:1-6 Proverbs 1:1-6
January 2 Genesis 3:1-4:26 Matthew 2:13-3:6 Psalm 2:1-12 Proverbs 1:7-9
January 3 Genesis 5:1-7:24 Matthew 3:7-4:11 Psalm 3:1-8 Proverbs 1:10-19
January 4 Genesis 8:1-10:32 Matthew 4:12-25 Psalm 4:1-8 Proverbs 1:20-23
January 5 Genesis 11:1-13:4 Matthew 5:1-26 Psalm 5:1-12 Proverbs 1:24-28
January 6 Genesis 13:5-15:21 Matthew 5:27-48 Psalm 6:1-10 Proverbs 1:29-33
January 7 Genesis 16:1-18:15 Matthew 6:1-24 Psalm 7:1-17 Proverbs 2:1-5
Fire is one of my favorite things. I love camping mostly because I get to build a fire and watch it. It is mesmerizing. It is amazing really. It is also a dangerous thing. When I was a young boy my dad and I were in the back of the property burning up some brush. It was mostly a white pile of hot embers at the time and so I threw in a new stick. My Dad was in the front of the house getting more wood and I grabed at that stick to move it again and BAM new flame burned my hand. My dad came running and got me some ice to help my hand heal. I was in a lot of pain but it could have been a lot worse. As a kid I didn’t understand the danger. I was in playing with fire.
Last week I had the privilege of sharing the staff devotion for the school teachers. I know most school devotions take the form of reading something you find meaningful to share with others. I read a text from Jude
22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude 22-23 NIV
These verses remind us of the our ministry among each other. Every day my goal is to help my kids be snatched from the fire. I pray every day God uses me to snatch other kids and families from the fire. Their is no greater calling as a parent, Dad, friend or minister. This is serious business and God has called all of us to be a part of it. The Holy Spirit does the work. He changes hearts, He changes minds, we just get to be a part of it.
In the season of Christmas and the crazy times we are living remember to be merciful to those who are struggling. Be merciful to those who don’t know Jesus. Be merciful to all you meet. You just may be a part of snatching them from the fire.