This weekend our congregation is going to be sharing the next steps of an initiative with the goal of campus renovation and expansion, in order to expand mission and ministry. It is called ONE Legacy. I started thinking about this weekend and what I want my kids to know about being generous with our finances for God’s ministry, and that prayer is important in our families life.
I was thinking, “What do I want my kids to learn from this moment?”. Often as a parent it is easy to go through the moment of growth and forget about what it is teaching your kids. I want to think, “How am I teaching my kids through this moment?”. My kids see me put something in the offering plate each week – they see me giving to God. Yet don’t want them to think of generosity as only being a ‘parent thing’, but rather that as a part of the community here at St. John, we are all called to share the gifts God has given us.
So here is what we are doing. We are going to have a conversation this weekend at the dinner table. We are going to pray. We are going to think about what are the things in our life we can let go of so that we can help our Church reach many with the Gospel. We may talk about giving up going out to dinner once a month. We may talk about using birthday and Christmas money for ONE Legacy instead, we may pray about giving up cable or Netflix or Slurpee’s!! Honestly I don’t know what it might look like. But seriously I want them to be a part of this moment.
Read John 6:1-13
I love this story because of one very important fact. In this version of the story we find out where the disciples got the five loaves and two fish. It came from a boy. It came from a kid. He had so little to offer and I am sure Jesus looked that boy in the eyes and said with your small gift I am going to change the world. I don’t need your small item to change the world but I am going to use your small sacrifice so that people can know of my love.
Talk with your kids this weekend. Talk with your kids about being generous in this moment. The Lord has given our family so much. It is a great conversation to have and so important as a part of the body of Christ.
Today I am sitting in my office and thinking thank you Jesus it is Friday and Sunday is coming. As I go through facebook, twitter and news sites I am disheartened. I am tired of it all. I am tired of the media stuff I see all around me. I am tires of the memes and misleading articles about this candidate and that candidate. I am tired of all the anger and hate. I am tired of people looking back at past this person wronged me and now I need to hate them forever. I am tired of all the damage in our world and I am tired of all the sin. I am tired from my own sin, I am tired of hearing about the brokenness all around me. As I was sitting in my office today all I could think is how can I lead my kids through this? How can I lead my children from fear to hope?
As parents and adults we are scaring our children. We are teaching them to live in fear. I have been at a number of meetings lately with adults who are bemoaning the Church is dying, the country is going to fall apart, what are we going to do? Her is my response stop it. Stop it right now. Stop spending every waking hour worrying about who is going to be elected, stop worrying that our church is missing kids, stop worrying about everything. No matter who is elected in a month the World is not going to end. The government isn’t going to collapse and the Church isn’t going to blow up. Above all remember who is in control.
Jesus is in control. He in control of the Church, the government, and the world. He is doing amazing things everyday if we just take the time to look around. I have spent the last 2 weeks meeting with 10 baptismal families. These are families with young children who are focusing on how they can help their children be a part of the Church so they can be connected to Jesus. It is amazing.
Lets just stop freaking out. Let stop and be in prayer for our leaders. Lets stop and be in prayer for our friends and enemies. Lets stop and be in prayer for our Church. Jesus in control and leading the way. Lets turn that fear into hope.
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
Sunday night I decided it was important for our Jr. High students to pray for our world. So for about 45 minutes we prayed. We broke into groups and walked around the building praying for people. We prayed in both worship spaces for the people who will worship there. We prayed for the guests who will be with us for Easter and Holy Week. We prayed for the leaders who lead worship, that they may point us to Jesus. We went to the Atrium and looked North and South of the building and prayed for the lost, the Muslims, Jews and other unbelievers. Then we walked to the east end of the building and prayed for those at Crittenton hospital, for the sick, the doctors, Nurses and other staff. After those 25 minutes we headed back to Luther hall and prayed for a specific person in our lives who needed to hear about Jesus or who was struggling with things in life. It was a neat experience.
Hearing students pray out loud for those they never met was a cool experience. It was amazing to me how well the students in my group prayed out loud for those who need Jesus. They spent 45 minutes praying for others. They prayed for the lost in this world. They want them to know Jesus.
We ended the night in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. We focused on the importance of sharing Jesus and Him crucified for us. You see I think we try to make this witnessing thing way more complicated than it has to be. My goal last night was to remind those teens and myself, we don’t have to know all the answers about Jesus to share him with others. We just share Jesus and him crucified for us and let the Holy Spirit work on the hearts of others.
In the next couple of weeks, we are going to meet others curious about Jesus. They are going to wondering about this Jesus person. As Easter approaches you will have opportunities to share Jesus. Point them to Jesus’ work on the cross. Focus on him crucified and raised for you.
Today I was reminded of why I have the best job in the world. Yesterday I spoke in chapel, and preached for our Lent services at St. John. Although it is truly an honor to stand up front and point people to Jesus, it is not what gets me through the day. It is not what I truly treasure about my job. My greatest joy isn’t teaching a bible class or preaching up front. My greatest joy is walking with, talking with, listening to, and praying with those God has placed in front of me.
Today was a great day. Most of it wasn’t what I planned to do today. The first was praying for a friend I work with. She was in need today and taking the time with a few others to pray for her reminded me why I love my job. It is ok to be sad with them and seek to see God’s work in a tough situation.
The second was another instance where someone asked me about an issue they were having with a child they knew. We walked through some very difficult stuff. Through it all I was reminded of something the first Pastor I served with told me. After 31 years in ministry he said “Steve I have preached many sermons in my day. People don’t remember the sermons or the bible studies, people remember the times you sat with them in their time of need.” Those words are words I have modeled my ministry on. It isn’t about being up front in the lime light or being the funniest guy it the world it is about being there for people and sharing Jesus.
This week as you go about your day please remember that. Please remember that people will not remember what you did for the group. They don’t remember the speeches they remember the times you stopped to listen to them, stopped to pray with them, and the times you lifted them up when they were down. Paul wrote it this way.
“so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
1 Cor. 12:25-27 NIV
So let us rejoice together, let us suffer together as the body of Christ lifting each other up one person at a time.
So this week we I was part of a team trying to help our staff be more physically healthy. One of the ways we are doing this is through a biggest loser challenge. For those that wanted to participate we broke them into teams to help us all be accountable. The goal is to help the staff have some bonding time and also help everyone be a little healthier. The most fascinating part of this activity is people’s fascination with numbers. Some people are terrified to share their number. Others will tell you if you ask.
The scale is a terrifying thing for many people. This week we set up a scale in the office for people to use if they wanted for our biggest loser challenge. I can tell you a few of them left that room with very angry faces. In fact, one told me we shouldn’t speak to her for the rest of the day. That scale can be terrifying, hurtful, and down right painful. It doesn’t paint the whole picture of health. I can however give us a snapshot of how we are doing. It doesn’t really tell you if you are healthy but it can tell you which direction you are heading in terms of your health. I for one wanted to throw it out the window.
(One note if you are a member of St. John or any Church please look after your Church workers’ health. Bring in some healthy snacks and less cookies we need the help!)
Kicking off this program got me thinking about not just my physical health but also many families’ spiritual health. Weight gain doesn’t happen over night it happens over months and years. Weight loss is the same way. Your health spiritually is very similar. We have good years and bad years. We have ups and we have downs. This is a great time of year to get on your faith life scale. (disclaimer, I am not saying if you are not doing the following things you do not love Jesus or you do not have faith so don’t comment non-stop and tell me I am preaching moralism please)
Are you in prayer as a family? As an individual? Are you in worship? Do you come to receive God’s blessings in Communion? Have you spent time in God’s word this week? Have you cared for someone beyond yourself? Have you served your neighbor? These questions don’t tell us if we have saving faith. This is just meant to help us look at our faith lives and reassess where God can work in us to be more faithful. Let us take a look in the mirror. Let us as Jesus’s disciples get on the scale and see where we are at. Maybe it is time in your life as it is in mine to lose a few pounds and get back to work.