Building a Desire For God in Others

I have this… what should be common, gift. I have been involved with many teenagers and adults through youth programs, Sunday School classes, teaching, speaking, board membership and personal mentoring and accountability. My gift is to help build a desire for God and eventually Godly leadership in others. To join the conversation how Godly Leaders raise Godly Leaders in context read Jim’s article here and then come back for some stories and insights. Sign up for SLIMJIM’s blog! read his series on Leadership.

I commented to James on his Godly Leadership article (A highly respected pastor, very active in evangelism and apologetics on the university campuses with a great Blog) and this was his response.

Gary I wish and pray for more leaders like you in our churches in America and the World today. What you are doing as a lay leader with your ministry orientation and ability to cultivate others to grow is so, so, precious. You got to tell me more what you do brother! My interest is peaked! SLIMJIM My foundational answer was in a nutshell “I spend time with God and He leads me”. knowing that answer was not answering his question, I wanted to use my blog space for furthering the conversation. So, yes. read Jim’s article.

Jim’s request took me back in time a bit when he said “tell me more what you do?” Back to stories of trying to help failing churches with their youth groups, as our Youth For Christ meetings were booming. Meeting with the youth leadership and sometimes a church board. The same question “What do you do?”, or “what are you doing to be successful?

It’s more than a program: Most of the time, they wanted a program outline, a list of creative games, resource books. I should have brought a can of “Fix a flat” to many meetings. I saw many a blank face when I told them to strive to build a desire and love for God in their youth. Then I began to ask questions of them to help them see where they were at as leaders (each one personally) and hopefully build into their youth.

Ask The Right Question: The right question(s) require vision, forethought, intentionality and a purpose to help the other person began to assess and take ownership of the outcome. This is true in developing Godly Leaders, helping people develop personally and even buying a car. I’ll give you a money saving question at the end (ha).

Build credible relationships: Conversation wit Jeff after playing some basketball a few times (a young guy who went to another church with a family and a good job), “Hey Jeff, there are 3 of us guys who meet after basketball. We are helping each other become the men we are supposed to be. Do you want in? Jeff: “definitely, yes” and Jeff has a history of saying “YES” to God in so many ways. his love for God is infectious.

Be Bold: A guy asked me to mentor him at work (I found out later it was find a mentor or get fired). Being somewhat reluctant, I asked him if he was willing to honestly face some hard questions and consider asking God for changes. He said “Yes”. The next week I took him in my boat to the middle of the lake and we talked and fished. We continued that conversation until he moved away for another job caught a big fish and later explained that he would have jumped out of my boat and swam to shore to avoid my questions. He began to understand that loving God is not checking off things on a to-do list. god used me in spite of myself that time.

Sense when the Holy Spirit nudges: A young family man was putting on his jacket in the church foyer. I sensed he was restless but felt led to say something. I said, “Hey Fred, do you mind a personal question from the church chairman?” he nodded ok. “First, don’t blink. I know you work a lot but if you blink your oldest son will be in college”. He nodded agreement. 2nd, “do you ever see yourself as growing so close to the Lord, leading your 5 kids and your wife in the ways of God, and being a part of Godly leadership after I’m gone”? Fred straightened up with a far away look and said quietly “yes, I think so”

Always give ownership of their growth and Godliness to them. Assume they are taking ownership of their relationship with God. I was a slot in giving a series of youth worker seminars to a regional group of youth directors in a mainline denomination. (My take on being recruited was that he needed a sacrificial lamb. A real life youth director to show how not to do things ). In the question and answer time one frustrated director asked the magic question. “how come kids quit the church after confirmation? they are not interested in church or any kind of “faith activities” again until they are married and have kids. The kids get baptized and confirmed and they quit. The cycle continues. WHAT’S WRONG????

Self discovery is so, so very important. The room was silent. Pin drop silent. who ever heard of 50+ youth directors gathered together being silent? This was an “I being in the way, the Lord led me” moment. I focused on the youth director and asked “can you personally have faith for your kids? does that work?” She said “NO”. “Can your pastor have faith for your kids?” again, “No”. “Can the parents have faith for their kids?” Another “No” “Can the church have faith for their kids?” “no”. ME: “You are correct, they have to have their own faith” (at this point the gal who asked the question almost jumped up and down and yelled to the rest of the group “That’s it!”). Now having credibility I concluded: “The real question then becomes do you as youth directors understand how to help your kids have their own personal faith in the very God who created them, loves them and wants to have a personal relationship with them. I would have loved to record the bit of chaos with the denominational leadership that happened for awhile...sound bytes no matter how spiritual they sound, well they have a hollow sound actually.

Desire: You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. You can sure put salt in his oats! Figure out how to salt the oats but mostly drink deeply yourself. I cannot count the number of times I have heard someone say (in various ways) “You have something I want. I am not sure what it is but it has to do with God”. A teen came up to me and said “I came tonight because I want what Mitch has. I think it has to do with God” I said to him “Can I have Mitch tell you? He would be glad to share, hey Mitch come here” and Mitch introduced Mike to a personal relationship with God.

Mitch was brand new himself but had great desire to share this love for God and God’s love for us. Desire begets desire. Do you have desire? Tasting intimacy with our Savior creates more desire not less. Desire doesn’t burn out, it spreads like wildfire unless quenched by the weeds and garbage of life. Let me ask you a simple question “do you spend time alone with God in his word, prayer, praise and listening for his voice more than listening to the garbage of this world?” which one you focus on becomes the context of the other.

“To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24

Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.” If these are seen in our lives, others will want what we have. Earnestly desire this and then ask God for more desire!

This is a small slice Jim of what I do because of my Love for the Lord. I hope that is a good start. Gary

PS Oh ya, advice on saving money in buying a car. My son in college came to me because he wanted to buy a nice car. The salesman didn’t want to go below $20,000 and probably could tell my son could afford payments (worked his way through college). My son was budget minded and told me he might go 17K for it but how could he make the salesman come down. I told him to get the salesman on his terms by asking him how close to $15,000 could he get? upon hearing that number the salesman said, no way can I sell that car for $15K! My son said, “I asked how close can you get because that will depend on whether I buy it or not”…”How about 16.2? Do you see the dynamics at work here? (Sorry sales people).

Thread Pullers

My mother used to say “Don’t pull on a loose thread”, meaning; our sock that she knitted would unravel or our bed quilt would start coming apart.

In the work place I retired from recently, a common phrase from the CEO was “pull on the loose thread”, meaning; investigate fully if something seems not quite right with the product, a tool or the process. If you think for a second something could be wrong, follow that thought through even if you have to shut down the line. Quality is everything! Be a superhero, pull the loose threads till you find out what is wrong! (Do check out Peragon Truck Bed Covers…I’m probably still in a couple old videos somewhere)

Looking back at the life spans of various empires and civilizations we seem to be repeating history in the unraveling of our society. It’s one thing to pull on loose threads and expose flaws in each other and our systems but quite another to bring a scissor to the party and start snipping away.

We lie (snip), we report one side of the story (snip), we black out a story (snip), we create skewed polls (snip), we report and pass on made up scenarios as fact (snip), we watch our preferred news outlet (snip, snip) and in all this we label our relationship with God as nonessential (who brought the chainsaw to the party?). Enough, you got the picture long before I ended the thought.

How well do you know the Gospel of Jesus Christ? The threads of the gospel are throughout scripture with no loose ends. Now, don’t confuse all those smart people with lots of theology degrees with their ideas of the Gospel and the Gospel itself. People have loose threads, God does not. He wants his threads to be woven into the tapestry of our lives till we become like him. Yes, there will be some or a lot of painful unraveling in our lives for that to happen. Personal revival isn’t pain free. I fear that covid 19 (the disease and the dismantling of lives by shutdown) may look like child’s play for national revival to happen. The God of no loose ends is the ultimate thread puller.

Jesus is the only hope for our society getting better. Revival is not a Christian sound byte. Revival is only found in a person who has met and been radically changed by Jesus Christ. They have love, joy, peace and a host of other new qualities of character with no pretense. They love God and they love people period. They have a hunger to know Jesus more and more. They know what intimacy with their Savior and Lord feels like.

Revival. Yes our nation needs it, but do I need it? Those who have this peace, joy and love are more infectious than covid. Those who have it “practice the presence of Jesus“. Those who have it have experienced and keep experiencing what scripture says “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Could we ever get to one nation under God? And he is before all things, and by him all things are held together. Colossians 1:17

Gary

My World Today

A few moments ago a delivery driver, with an attitude, handed me a package while making an off hand statement about the unstable shape of our world. “I’m sorry, I’m feeling political today” he said.

I took a sip of my coffee and answered “This morning the sun came up, the tips of the oak, the pine cones in the white pine and the whole woods was lit up while the moon was setting. I took pictures of this absolutely beautiful morning. The sun will come up again for all our tomorrows”.

He paused, looked at the trees and the woods for quite a long moment while he seemed to reset and relax while answering“and there is only one God and he’s in charge”. I said “always. you have a great day”

I want to encourage you to reset if you need to. Above all, be in a place with the Lord Jesus to share his light while engaging those you meet in our turbulent times. Sometimes it just takes a small nudge to help those around us to reset.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

Gary

Photo’s by Gary this morning after a meeting time with the Lord

Just to be Clear

Road sign after a storm…a sign of the times ahead?

God’s will and ways are not to be covered by circumstance, culture, current issues or coercion. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father but by me” John 14:6 (Jesus)

So, this week, sit a spell, spend some time getting fed, and for heavens sake get directions.

I Know , I eat healthier in spirit

Gary

Garden Hose Readiness

Our trails turned white. It snows on the good and the bad! winter doesn’t care!

It’s still autumn. How dare winter pay a visit so early. It’s a bit like the bank assessing your property a few weeks early before they auction off your farm. It’s 25 degrees Fahrenheit today for a high and the garden hose hooked to the house is now ice (and a hundred other things now under snow). I’m not ready. Foul, I cry. “Ha”, says winter “I’m gonna win”, and it will. Maybe fall will make a comeback but winter will win, then spring, then summer, then autumn will get a turn again, then winter will wreck another garden hose.

Dare you to shake the tree!
Whoops, missed picking some apples.
The ground is still warm enough to melt roadways but the forecast isn’t friendly
I hear the raspberry’s cry “it’s still Autumn…Bad winter. Bad!”

I can almost hear Jesus saying “ready or not, here I come” Then it will be the season of the Lord’s final victory. It makes me wonder how many of life’s garden hoses (trivial and the urgent overshadowing the important) are still keeping me too busy. How many apples (neighbors) are neglected and lonely? How warm is my heart under this rough exterior to melt the cold storms of life?

I know, I know. I’m all over the place on symbolism and illustration but so was (is) the snow!! Sadly, I have a lot of putting away of our things to prepare for the oncoming snows and really cold weather. I know of two neighbors that are not able to put up firewood for the winter. I should be in shape here so I can be fruitful there. That is the real lesson I should be learning here. The need is real and very large out there and God’s issue with my un-readiness is way beyond the scope of a garden hose

Gary

Loud Inaudible Us

After some hints, pushing, prodding and blatantly outright suggestions (yes, I exaggerate) I have taken Ted Martins advice from several comments on my comments section and put some of my photos on a free share website. Yes, they are free and you can use them for your blogs or thankyou cards or whatever, however and whenever you use pictures. Thanks Ted for the push. View Teds site here https://rhetoricandhomiletics.org/

What we pass on to the next generation and others around us matters

I don’t know what process you use for giving away free stuff but I’m willing to think you like to receive free stuff. I just hope my pictures are useful to someone besides me.

I noticed that many bloggers that I read use Unsplash for downloading free pictures and chose that site to set up an account and share. As I type this my 16 pictures have 9,528 views and 137 downloads in October. You can look at my very limited selection of free photos and then go on to search from the thousands of great photos at https://unsplash.com/@garyfultz

I’ll download more as Unsplash begins to trust me with downloads according to their specs. I sometimes ask and am asked “why give?”

My stuff

I may not have much from a worldly point of view, but I am very wealthy and gaining daily. When I die I stand to inherit a whole lot of free stuff given freely by my Father, but, that means nothing if it does not show up, in some way, shape or form as a voice to the little corner of the present world I touch.

Christmas and gift giving and receiving is so exciting

I see an inaudible voice in sharing photo’s. I watch inaudible parent child language. I see inaudible marriage interchange. I even see inaudible messages in blogs between the lines and so do you. Let’s face it, our inaudible messages through all the mediums at our disposal speak so loud no one can hear what we are saying.

All this to pray “May my photos speak inaudibly Gods voice to the world.”

The Son changes everything

A note of encouragement: Only God can manage our loud inaudible voice to the world around us, if we let Him. However, Speaking of Gods inaudibles like nature and his workings in us, God’s audible Word changes us. Where God uses the inaudibles of people, life and nature to get our attention, He uses his audible, eternal and perfect WORD to change inaudible us.

After 6 days in the wilderness…we all need to change

” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:1-5

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

Gary

Seeing Abilities

Let me explain some context for these photos.

I was reading by early morning light. Two deer were in the yard on the tree line browsing. I was reading Hebrews 4:13 “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight”. Looking up I saw the deer had slipped into the woods out of sight. I started laughing at myself. There are times when I think I’m really somebody. I know you can’t relate…But, I can’t even keep track of a deer!

If what can be seen by us is amazing, just think what God sees and what he wants to show us. I have selected a few autumn shots taken the last couple days. Click for a slide show

I love the symbolism of nature except for the part where we are playing is leaves. we will fade and drop someday. We don’t get the super powers and we only live for a season of time. Thankfully, our creator knows everything about us, out thoughts and motives…everything, and still wants a relationship with us. In Him is life, let Him in.

What’s in there? Does my door even open anymore?

Jesus said “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” Revelation 3:20 (In Other Words, Let Him in).

Ahhh… the symbolism. The simplest picture can touch the edges of eternity

Gary

Bad Investment

Life’s stakes are high. Daryl Maddens Poem hits it well.

Two voices in your head
Struggle for control
The loud voice of the ego
The whisper of the soul….. Read more here at Daryl’s blog

 It’s so human to buy a lot of ego stock for the short term and hold, sometimes into eternity, as if we can control the dividends

a whole garden in a dew drop. Think what God can make of us

Instead, Invest here:Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

Long Term Thinking: Eternity (see you there?)

Running with the Steers

I got run over by a 800 lb steer this Monday (it’s true). Not as glamorous a story as Grandma and the reindeer but this steer was 5 times as big as any reindeer. I’m quite sure no song will come of it either. I’m OK, thanks for asking. The hooves missed me after a good head butt to knock me down.

Ya, not wise

I had agreed to drive two hours to bring a steer to market for a brother. Just drive the rig, back up the trailer and let the steer out into the chute. Two experienced professionals took it from there. I was an innocent bystander at the end of the closed gate until the big steer with quite an attitude (yes, I distinctly remember smoke coming out his nostrils) charged at one of the attendants, hit the side of the chute and made an opening at the end of the gate (of course). The steer saw the opening, lowered his head and charged through the opening, tossing me forward into a half gainer, akin to a belly flop off the diving board onto the driveway. Then he ran over me.. Thankfully no hooves mashed me. I’m f.f.f.fine.

My body is sore in places where I didn’t even know I had them places. Some odd memories are coming to me that may have been a nano-second long but the telling may take a few minutes longer. One memory was very strange as I was flying through the air and yet the beast was upon me-pushing me down to the ground with it’s chest. The thought racing inside my skull in circles over and over was “I’m never traveling to Pamplona to run with the bulls”.

I’m ashamed. I should have been praying or something. I could have been asking God to watch over my wife and kids after my trampling, but nooo…I’m judging a certain class of risk-takers to be blooming idiots while it’s me landing on my head. Yes, it’s me, landing on my ego and that was trampled.

We have all been there. life’s sunsets mean a new day will come

Some changes have taken place. mostly in my heart and mind. living, dying, accidents or just an odd happening can happen instantly. The last couple of days I’ve been shying away from parts of my morning prayer, mostly where I pray “well Lord, what do you have for me today?” I am very open to praying differently if you have other ideas.

I’ve also tackled a couple of difficult conversations that were overdue. Why wait? What’s the worst that could happen? Okay, I’m not ready to answer that till I gear up (you know…helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit etc)

Gary

(Added this morning): thanks Homer for your prayer idea in the comments section.

Only When the Sun Peeks?

sunlight through clouds 2eml
The Sun Shines through even on an old life battered, seemingly barren tree (even me)

Don Merritt’s post on Praise (click here..great stuff Don) hit my insight bone this morning. I have often thought: “what causes the first frog to croak, or the first cricket to sound off, the first wolf to begin it’s blood curdling moan and all the others join in?

A friend of mine tells about walking out on the dock one frosty morning. The lake was evidently super cooled. The moment he stepped onto the dock the vibrations triggered the whole lake to instantly freeze over in a thin layer of ice. The sound of snap, crackle and pop of a lake freezing over in a couple of seconds will be indented in his memory forever. What causes the first molecule of water in the lake to freeze come winter to ice over the lake in a few moments?

What causes a whole congregation to lift up a raucous praise to the Lord or a moan before the throne in one accord? What causes my eyes to lift to the Lord in a burst of heartfelt praise from depths of my soul? Maybe, when the sun peeks out in my Life after a long storm? When a prayer is answered to my relief? When something works out? When…?

This morning my heart was “super cooled” in a good way. I was ready in my spirit to Praise my Lord and Savior and Don let out the first croak. May all God’s people be ready in their own hearts to join in. May the world hear our sound of unified praise. Oh, it’s not the song leader or the praise band in church (many times they get in the way). It’s God’s people whose hearts are “super cooled” and ready to break loose in praise, in loving God through a kind spontaneous act or smile or something creative. It’s something God has prepared in you because you have been walking with HIM. Daily.

That’s it isn’t it? Our walk with God in obedience. Our Hope in Christ. Our Love for one another. Our eye’s fixed on Jesus as we run this race through life. Our morning coffee time in the Word and prayer. A prepared heart set for whatever life brings each day. Please someone, step on the dock of our little lake. God has “super cooled” my heart (Thanks Don)

May we all be in the process of becoming “Super Cool” before the throne.

Ready for God’s day?

Signiture