Let us never grow tired of sharing Jesus

20160504_111210I am tired.  I have been busy these last few months.  I haven’t written a blog post is over 3 months. It has mostly been due to being busy and tired.  I often forget about how tiring ministry can be.  We can be  tired because we are overworked, or struggle to find purpose.  Most of all I think we are tired because we grow tired of sharing Jesus.  We forget our joy in sharing the story of Jesus and his forgiveness. We do this because we lose focus on what we are doing in ministry.

yesterday however was a fun and exciting day.  I am a Star Wars fan.  I really enjoy the fun of the light sabers and music, and the  wonder we see in those films.  I had the joy of leading chapel yesterday.  I handed out light sabers to the ushers at chapel and I had them play Star Wars music for chapel as the kids walked in the room.  It was a great moment watching many of the kids come into chapel excited to see what would be done today.  We of course didn’t put our primary focus on Star Wars.  We focused on Jesus.  We used Star Wars as a way to share Jesus with students.  We used light sabers to foscus kids on the light of the world.  We had so much fun as a group. What I noticed most today was the joy I had in sharing Jesus with kids.  Too often we forget about this joy because we are so focused on work to be done, or the projects to be completed.  We focus on the conflicts in our churches or the pain being caused to us by our sin.

Those things above don’t go away when have are good days but when we can focus on sharing Jesus we see God working in the lives of people we can have joy.  So let us instead focus on sharing Jesus.  Let us never grow tired of sharing Jesus.

For those of you who are reading this and aren’t full time ministers.  I would challenge you in your daily life, when you are feeling tired, to focus on the joy of sharing Jesus.  We all are busy with life but if you can focus your time on sharing Jesus in our work, family and daily lives we can find joy. We may be tired today but let us all never grow tired of sharing Jesus with everyone we meet.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:29-31 NIV

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Dress Up…Sharing the Joy of Knowing Christ!

2016-01-27 23.36.53 1I like to dress up for Lutheran schools week.  My goal each year for this week is to dress up as much as possible. I am all about “going big or going home”.  My favorite part is watching peoples reactions when I walk in the building. I know I look like a nut. I know I should probably never go out in public like this but I do.  I do it all because I love to draw attention to myself….(ok that sounds really narcissistic when you write it that way but keep reading so you don’t think too poorly of me.)

The reason I dress this way is so you notice me.  I want you to notice me SO THAT I can share with you this guy who has made me nuts.  This guy who made me dress up in costumes, dye my hair pink and go all out for Lutheran Schools weeks each year.  I want you to know this Jesus guy who ruined my life SO THAT I can no longer miss opportunities to share with you Jesus. The one who loved me so much He gave Himself for me.  He loved me.  This awkward kid who was not the coolest kid in the world.  A guy who was bald and 26 and has very little filter when talking with others.  A guy who is trying to follow Jesus.

So tomorrow or the next day when you see me walking around its ok to stare.  I don’t mind if you laugh.  I don’t mind much of anything.  I just hope you know I really am not doing these crazy things for me. I am doing them SO THAT you might know Jesus and the joy he gives me every day.  So lets all think about ways we can share Jesus and the joy we have in Him.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV

 

Ask me any question and you will get an answer. Waiting for the question in order to teach the faith.

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Recently I have started telling Middle school students they can ask me any question they want and I will answer it. These students don’t know me very well so they think if they ask something like “How are babies born?” I won’t answer. Much to their surprise, and quite honestly disgust, I am more than willing to talk about that. Just ask any former student and they will tell you I talk about that a lot with students. I think many people are terrified to tell middle school kids or anyone for that matter, to ask them anything. I have found it to be most helpful in striking up conversations with young people. I even have this same policy with my own kids. I want them to ask questions and I want them to learn. I find when I allow questions it allows students to ask and to be willing to learn.

Many moons ago I went through a class in college by Dr. Steve Arnold that helped me to articulate something I understood but didn’t know how to explain to others. The idea is that in order to teach someone something they have to give you permission to teach them. Students, adults and just about everyone will only learn something from you if they give you permission. Most often it occurs in the form of a question they have asked. You see many people still teach in a way that says you are going to learn from me because I am the teacher. What I have found with kids today is they don’t care if you are the teacher, pastor, DCE, mom or Dad. They want to know you care first and then they will give you permission to really teach them something.

This waiting for permission is hard and sometimes I fail to remember my own lesson. I do know that students and most importantly my kids learn best when I get permission. I love to have my students and my kids ask questions. Those questions open them up to my answers. It opens them up to hearing about Jesus. It opens them up to hearing about life.

My encouragement for you as parents, fellow believer and fellow Church workers is to let your kids ask questions. Let the adults ask questions. Let them learn from you. Don’t answer questions they are not asking.  Develop a culture of questions. You may be surprised by the amount of sharing you can do if you wait for the question.

1After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. Mark 7:17 NIV

Sharing faith one person at a time…Dont play the numbers game.

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The numbers can be a the hardest part of serving in ministry.  We all want more people at Church. We all want more people to be involved in ministry. We all want more people to know Jesus. The problem is numbers can be a big reason people leave serving in ministry.  Numbers can be a chock hold on how you serve in ministry because it becomes too much of the focus in ministry and life.

As I have been looking around at those I have seen in ministry the numbers game has been a big reason people leave. They get sick of it.  They really miss just being with people. I am someone who looks at numbers in ministry.  I track attendance and do look at how many people show up as a measure of successful ministry or events. It can tell you if you have done something with worth. The problem with numbers in ministry is, you can have big numbers and it mean nothing in peoples lives, you can get very little done for events or very few people show up, but you have been a part of changing people’s lives.  You see numbers can be important, but people are actually the more important part.  In fact they are the most important part.  It is hard to quantify.  It is hard to make a report that counts all the conversations, all the little comments that really helped someone through their day.  A word of grace that you shared in their life that helped them see Jesus.

In ministry I spend time planning all sorts of events.  I plan VBS, Sr. High youth group, chili cook-offs, mission trips, a multitude of bible studies, but those are all designed to do something.  They are designed to help parents, adult and students have opportunities to share Jesus with each other.  They are all designed to help them see Jesus.

So one of my problems with the numbers games is that I can spend 1000s of hours on things, and say we have 10,000 students at Youth events.  The problem is that isn’t the right number.  The right thing to look at isn’t numbers.  The thing I try to ask myself is did I help the student, family, or friend through the parent’s divorce.  Did I help the family deal with a student struggling with death of a friend, or parent.  Did I sit with a parent as they struggle with their relationship with their child.  You see those things aren’t easily quantified.  Sometimes I will spend 12 hours over two days helping one person.  You might say that wasn’t the best use of my time.  I only worked with one person.  Sometimes I don’t have the best planned youth event because I ran out of time.  The reality is I spent time with a person who needed my time. I got to be a part of Jesus’s ministry in their life.

I am reminded of a great story in the Bible about the feeding of the 5000 (John 6:1-14). When the boy’s fish and bread are used by Jesus.  I like to think of myself as the boy who gets to be involved in Jesus’ ministry.  I get to have an impact on peoples lives.

The same applies for your life.  It isn’t about numbers in my relationships. It is about the individuals I am ministering with.  My goal isn’t how many people can I walk around and share Jesus with, but what few people am I going to invest in so that they know Jesus better. So they experience God’s grace.

The numbers are important, but individual people are more important.