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).

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

Only When the Sun Peeks?

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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?

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The Call

A simple sunset. Predictable. On time. I digress. But, when I stepped outside the house this evening, there was an unmistakable  Call to Worship

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Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. Psalm 29:2

Gary

Sun Rise in the Western Sky

Wow, God dressed up the western Sky in the Sunrise this morning!

This Sunday morning worship time with the Lord, before worshiping with others, I was facing west from our kitchen table, the opposite way to watch a sunrise. It took a half an hour for the sun to dress the morning. The western sky was really getting dressed up for this day. Random thought here: Which special saints are you bringing home today Lord?

I was reminded that God can take anything or anyone at hand to serve his purposes, communicate His truths or just get our attention. He has mine.

He loves us so very much and He seeks us, woos us, whispers on the wind and shouts from the skies. It’s all there in His word and in the hearts of his children who have found Him.

It’s possible that in the next 24 hours, millions of people will see some aspect of a beautiful sunrise around the world. Each one of us will have our own unique perspective point of the same event. Each of us has our very own unique relationship with God. I am merely sharing a small slice of mine with you.

Today: Let God speak to your heart his love, His Grace. Share this love, this Grace with someone else.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1

 I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness. Jeremiah 31:3

Gary

 

 

Wander into Winter Wonder

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The snow quit. Winds died. Morning came after freezing fog. All was frosted. Highlights rolled in with the coming sun. Skating to work on the roads might be the best option in freezing temperatures. Look at this mornings artwork from God’s perspective. life’s deadliest winter storms will end. Only God can make beauty of it.

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The cold snows of life, a prelude to beauty

 

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Our vision is limited. All we can see is snow

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The sun is coming, the son is coming

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We may be frozen solid but God begins to warm our hearts

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Only God can warm our cold hearts and make beauty of life’s winters.

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
    he heard my cry for mercy.
 Because he turned his ear to me,
    I will call on him as long as I live. (Psalm 116:1-2)

Gary

Pictures taken this Monday morning after the storm  

 

Breakfast and Breakfast

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March 2 2019 7:03 am. A hungry slice in time

First Breakfast this morning: Great are the works of the Lord, They are pondered by all who delight in them. (Psalm 111:2)  A great time in the word.

2nd Breakfast: 3 eggs, 3 bacon, 2 toast loaded with peanut butter and strawberry jam.

One will last a few hours of sustenance. The other will last an eternity. One is a short time enjoyment while the other takes it’s time to penetrate and change one’s very being. One is paid for out of labor wages while the other was paid for by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Now I’m gushing a bit but that’s ok. The previous verse which is Psalm 111:1 says “I will extol the Lord”. The word “Extol” means to praise enthusiastically, rapturous, Sing the praises of, gush, eulogize, rhapsodize, rave about and the list goes on

Have you had your first breakfast today?

Gary

ps: Oh, and coffee with both 

 

Moonset Morning at Ten Below Zero

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I  stepped outside and took a 10 second time exposure. Long enough to get cold in my sleepwear. 

I watched the moon set before the sun would light the morning.  I pondered and identified with the Psalmist.

“You, God are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land where there is no water. ” Psalm 63: 1

I thought of the all the sailors who have been adrift in life boats after losing their vessel in storm or war; often muttering “water water everywhere but not a drop to drink.”

I think often of the happiest people I have ever seen in a third world country and they have nothing.

I think of the change of one’s whole being when they finally understand how much Jesus loves them; enough to die for them. It’s like coming home from vacation and all your plants look dead and they spring to life with water. Only we get “Living Water.”

I ponder how this passion for God in our dry and thirsty land affects my speech, word choices and topics of conversation today and through the week. Will I use alternate swear words? slang? Will I confront or come alongside when differences arise? will I wash the dishes when my wife looks tired even though I have had an 11 hour work day? Will I say a kind word to a harried cashier? Will I live intentionally? Generously?

It’s now daylight. Will I live as a child of light? A delightful sunday morning. I read on. “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you Psalm 63: 4-5 (even if I don’t know the song?)

Gary

Sacred Moments

To many this would be sacrilege. but to those who have realised they just escaped hell, sacred.

 I came a stranger, a visitor and casual observer. I left immersed in wonder.  

 The place was packed. The air as electric with excitement as a tied championship game in final seconds. Yelling, clapping and (very) loud cheering sounds from young and old alike. God winning. Testimony and story from several teens, twenties and some elderly as they declared hardships and victories before being dunked in an icy water filled cattle tank. Tears and much shaking of heads as memories of who they were “before Christ”. Gods power was evident, powerful, overflowing and permeating. All were participants in this sacred gathering.

Thirtysome quick stories and baptisms before moving on to thirtysome child dedications. The electricity was still there. Clapping, yelling and various carrying on continued as parents gave their kids to God and pleaded with the people to help them raise their kids to Love God. Not a dry eye in the place as a mom gave her child to God. “Before Christ”, Strung out on drugs at life’s bottom she had given away her young child for adoption.  Now in her new life in Christ, she was now giving her child to God. A child she may never see again on earth. She desperately wanted to at least see her child in heaven someday.

[Side notes: extremely organized, the youth band was great but their drummer is an alien with six arms I think. How could over 70 events happen with people talking and take only 2 hours? Wow, they didn’t come for the cake afterwards! I still feel compelled to pray once in awhile for the barren mom with purple and pink hair. So this is where my grandkids are being raised…]

There was nothing ordinary about this afternoon church service.  God wasn’t just “talked about”, God permeated the room and the people with his presence. A sacred excitement. We were there with His Spirit. I could  picture Jesus in the eyes of the little kids standing on chairs clapping with glee. The year was 2018. I shall not forget this sacred moment.

Ask God for a sacred moment in your life and church (and by faith carry ear plugs)

Gary

PS: a bit of irony on the backstory. This meeting was held in a nice church building given to this ministry. Seems the church grew old and disbanded from lack of people and funds. This ministry grew out of that church a few years back but was attracting people that made the church people uncomfortable. Now that ministry is a church and the old church building is just big enough for the youth ministry. God wins.

Just a Worship Thought

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 Luke 19:37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

 Isaiah 55:12 “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

 Habakkuk 2:11 For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the woodwork respond.

Fire lake
Some places are gonna be loud!

Gary