Category Archives: Ministry

Lame Church: What To Do When Your Teenager Thinks Church Is Less Than Appealing

Lame Church: What to do when your teenager thinks church is less than appealing

“It’s so BORING.”

“Why can’t I just sleep in?”

“But none of my friends go to youth group!”

“I don’t get anything out of the Bible study, what’s the point?”

“I have too much homework to go to small group tonight?”

“I would rather help in the nursery.”

“I forgot.”

Parents, we have heard it all (amirite)? Ok, my kids aren’t teenagers yet, but my husband is a youth pastor and I get the privilege to reach out to young people alongside him for the glory of God. And I too, have heard all of these statements about “lame church.”

I get it, personally even. I was the kid who “helped” in the nursery for countless Sunday’s because I didn’t want to sit through the sermon. As a teen, I didn’t go to youth group because I was the awkward homeschooled girl intimidated by my gorgeous older sister’s cool friends.

Statistics show us that at least half of students raised in a Christian home who at one point claim to have accepted Christ as Savior will turn away from the Christian faith after high school graduation. This number is not ok with me.

Thankfully, research shows us a significant factor for those that maintain their walk with God into adulthood: they have at least 5 Christian adults investing specifically in the student’s relationship with God. (source)

Churches used to employ the “bouncer” approach to youth–have one adult for every 5 kids at the pizza night. Now, we strive to connect every 1 student to 5 caring and Christ-centered adults who will walk the faith journey with them.

For example, Kadee’s 5 might be:

  1. Mom
  2. Grandpa
  3. Small group Leader
  4. Christian coach
  5. Youth pastor

And let me say, this is not easy. Especially when kids present the “lame church” excuses.

May I suggest that, often the kids who claim “church is lame” are truly “lame” themselves.

Hear me out. Mark 2:1-12  tells us the story of a lame man, stuck on his mat, unable to get to Jesus for healing and abundant life. Four friends were willing to hoist him on his bed, carry him through the city, dig a hole through a roof, attach some belay cables to the lame man’s bed and lower him down to Jesus. This was no small effort.

Adolescents are children moving toward adulthood. They haven’t arrived yet (have any of us?). However, they are still capable of a beautiful, intimate, world-changing relationship with God. But in order to get there, some teens will need a faithful 4 or 5 to help them get to Jesus. As a parent, you are the most influential one of those 5, and you have a significant amount of power in helping find the other 4.

Help for the Lame Teen

So how do you pry the video game controller from your teen’s “paralyzed” hands and usher her into a fighting chance at a relationship with Jesus? Here are a few practical ideas:

Pray:

I dare you to pray Ephesians 3:14-21, on your knees, every day for your teen, and see what God does.

Send a Message:

Does your teen see that YOU believe their faith is important? Do we encourage our daughters and sons to have a Bible study or time spent with God? Dowe sit down with them, not just to help with homework, but to unpack Gods word together? Have we put youth group on the calendar so we don’t forget, even when they claim they do?

Try it out! Ask your son or daughter the following question: “What do you think is the most important part of your life to me?… Why?”

If needed, adjust which priorities you promote for your child through conversation, social media posts, rules and expectations, or praise.

Model:

Make your own walk with God available for the watchful eyes of your kids. Our prayer times can be so intimate when we finally get a quiet, private moment. Unfortunately, our children cannot pick up on habits they have not seen in practice. They can only mirror or imitate what they have visual access too.

Phone a Friend:

Prayerfully invite 3 or 4 other faith-heroes to invest in the life of your teen. Look outside your own peer group. I have seen powerful life-changes through the relationships of senior women who disciple teen girls into Godly womanhood.

Shift the Power:

Is your teen still complaining about lame church? Place the power on their shoulders. One mom always reminded her teenage boys every Sunday night before youth group, “remember, it’s not fun unless YOU make it fun.”

It’s true, kids set the tone for “cool” long before the youth pastor can. And believe me, he is trying. But in the end, we are not here to entertain, we are here to facilitate closer relationships with the living and loving God.

So encourage your teen to be the one that “blows it up” by inviting friends, baking cookies, or simply just asking good questions. Remind them of their power and influence to make church “the” place to be. Encourage them to take ownership of their faith community and invest in it. We all need to remember: church is not for us, church is us.

I understand, no-where in the Bible does it say a student has to attend church or youth group to have a relationship with God. However, the Bible is clear that fellowship with God’s family is not only a crucial part of having a healthy relationship with God, it is also a crucial part of having a healthy relationship with God that lasts. If you think about it, it is easy to stray away when you are always on the fringes of community; however, it is more difficult to stray away when you’ve been sitting at the table of God’s family.

Ultimately, I am not suggesting you drag your teenager on his mattress to church this Sunday. And please don’t dig a hole in in the roof of the youth leaders house. But somehow consider how you might put in a lame-man’s-friend type of effort to escort your teenager to a closer walk with Jesus. For his sake, both now and for the next 10-50 years of his life.

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The Timeline of a Christian’s Journey: Engage 24 Boot Camp

Welcome to Engage 24 Boot Camp!

Engage 24 is a worldwide event designed for college students, yet applicable to everyone. On October 15, 2015, students will answer the call to engage their campuses and local environment for a full 24 hours with the gospel. Through prayer, intentional gospel sharing, and bold discipleship, these students plan to consecrate this day to embody God’s heart for the lost.

As you know, my husband and I are blessed directors of a local college ministry. To prepare for 10/15/15, I plan to share a few tips that have greatly helped my journey to understand my faith in Christ, and share it better with the world. First up: the Timeline of a Christian’s Journey.

timeline title

A few years ago, a gentleman in Ohio gave me a picture that was revolutionary to how I understood my faith. It redefined how I saw evangelism and discipleship, and equipped me to do both better. I wish I could remember the source he mentioned for this concept (if any of my readers recognize it, please let me know!).

The following is my representation of the timeline of a person’s journey to becoming a mature, flourishing Christian.

timeline of a Christians journey

The CROSS represents salvation. This is the moment the individual accepts Christ as his or her savior.

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Romans 10:9-10

Every point before the “cross” represents a person’s life before Christ. The farthest point could symbolize the time before an individual had ever heard about God and His love for us. As a person hears the gospel, grows in curiosity, seeks answers by the leading of the Holy Spirit, he is stepping closer to that moment of salvation.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15

Of course, in our unbelief before Christ, we go back and forth in our desire to know more about God. Our willingness to seek Him and our attention to His call in our lives can be spotty at best. Some go through seasons where someone is constantly praying for and inviting the individual to learn about faith in Jesus. Other times are characterized by the lack of spiritual intervention by loved ones. Obviously, this is not a linear process. Remember, the timeline pictures is simply a tool, not a definition, to understand a Christian’s journey.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

For some of us, the moment of salvation came very soon after hearing about Jesus for the first time. Whether we were 7 or 27, that moment is still just as significant for each person. For many of us, we understand the full depth of salvation some time after we become Christians. That is just a part of the Holy Spirit walking with us to grow in our faith.

Christian timeline two

The points after the cross symbolize the sanctification process: becoming more like Jesus. At salvation, a person’s identity has changed:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

The Holy Spirit now helps the individual’s lifestyle, thoughts, actions, hopes and dreams to change. That is sanctification:

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

This sanctification is the “growing us up” into maturity:

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:11-14

As with any living organism, we reach maturity when we are able to “reproduce.” In other words, the ultimate goal of the Holy Spirit is not just to make us Christians, but to make us Disciple-makers, like Christ was.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

Once a person is able to “feed himself” spiritually, and begin to feed others, he or she can continue running the race with perseverance till the day God calls us home:

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. Philippians 3:10-15

This “timeline” will be a helpful tool as we explore the difference between evangelism and discipleship, the importance of prayer, and what it truly means to be a Christian. Engage 24 is right around the corner. Prepare yourself with greater understanding of the above Scriptures, to impact your sphere of influence for Christ.

Use #engage24bootcamp to share this post and connect with others who are gearing up for 10/15/15!

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How to Survive as a Camp Counselor (Tip 5): Stay Healthy!

In my opinion, camp is one of the greatest salutes to summer ever imagined. Camping is certainly in the top 5 as well. However, there is something about a group of teenagers gathering for a week away from parents, internet, and daily expectations that sets a soul free.

Whoever thought of this concept of “Summer Camp” is my hero. At least, my hero when I was a camper. When I started pursuing my dream as a camp counselor one summer, and youth ministry intern another, I wasn’t so sure about the brilliance behind the concept of camp.

I think the luster began to fade when I began to fade: spiritually and physically. In addition to the first 4 camp counselor survival tips, these next 4 are key to maintaining physical health and strengths.

tip 5

5. Protect your health.

Taking a weekly break/sabbath (tip #3) is imperative for your health. But breaks alone will not keep you functioning at the physical caliber required for summer ministry. Throughout the week, a camp counselor must be health-conscious in 4 areas:

A. Eat Smart

Camp food sits at the top 3 favorite things for campers. Greasy, heavy, thick, comfort food. Cinnamon rolls, Taco in a bag, and lets not forget the CANTEEN! It’s a camper’s paradise. But a camp counselor cannot survive on soda, sugar, and salt-heavy foods all summer. At one point, you might have to sneak in some asparagus my friend. Choosing lighter portions, adding a salad, and opting for healthy snacks (lets face it, you need snacks throughout the day to keep that energy up). If you cannot maintain healthy eating habits, invest in some vitamins or supplements.

Paul said:

All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 1 Cor. 6:12

Indulging in camp food is certainly lawful. However, be encouraged to set boundaries on food that stops being healthful or dominating.

B. Protect your Sleep

I cannot tell you how often I spent time meant for sleeping hiding out in my blanket-draped bunk, scrambling and preparing for the next thing. Midday quiet-times and curfew didn’t apply to me, so I must not actually need sleep, I thought. In hindsight, I wish I would have shut my eyes a few more hours. Sleep is the first thing to go when ambitious ministry awaits. I don’t think this is wise for two reasons:

I. God gave us sleep as a reminder that He is God, and we are not. He will take care of all the soul-saving without us staying up an extra hour to make a pretty poster for Bible study.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Psalms 127:2

II. God gave us sleep to keep us healthy. Human bodies need sleep. Without it, our ministry effectiveness can be diminished.

Without sleep, I consistently forgot my campers names and backgrounds, over-ate to stay awake, and had poor confidence (more on this later) among other staff members.

Of course, you can over do this one. The Bible warns against laziness, and even Jesus asked His disciples to stay awake in prayer through the night with Him once. There are special circumstances. Walk in step with the Spirit, be awake when He is working through you, go to sleep when you want to start taking over.

C. Prioritize Proper Hygiene

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. 3 John 1:2

John is concerned with his readers physical health as well as their soul health. We should be too.

We tell our campers to shower. Please, for the love of all that is good on this green earth, SHOWER! And change your underwear, brush your teeth, keep your bed clean.  This is mandatory for a summer ministry leader as well. It only takes 2 minutes to wash your face at night, and you will be grateful you don’t wake up with a fresh distracting zit on your nose in the morning.

Zits lower confidence. Distract us from the mission. Zits are painful.

Don’t get zits. Practice good hygiene.

Same is true for bad breath, stinky feet, ingrown toenails, pink eye (wash your hands), a crusty nostril, and waxy ears.

D. Exercise-wise

I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. 2 Cor. 9:27

You may feel that exercise is unnecessary during your summer ministry season. Field games, hikes, lake day, giving piggy back rides to younger campers consumes more of your energy than you have. I knew some girl counselors who would wake up 2 hours early to get a run in every morning before the day started. Whew, that’s determination. I was more interested in protecting point B to join them. However, I admire staff who make a point to keep their bodies flexible, muscles strong, and lungs enduring. Do what you can, without idolizing fitness or appearance, or compromising other areas of your life.

I suggest listening to a sermon podcast or worship music during a stretching session, jog, or cardio burst. Just take 15 minutes. Enjoy a mental, spiritual, and physical regrouping to keep you on track for the rest of the day.

How do you keep your body healthy during a busy and highly-demanding season? Leave your answer in a comment.

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How to Survive as a Camp Counselor (tips 3 & 4): Take a Break & Be Authentic

Camp Counselor Survival Guide

 

Welcome to Campfire Grace, where we explore the freedom God has for us in on-going relationship with Him. This month, we have been unpacking survival tips for camp counselors and other summer ministry positions. For tips 1 and 2, click here.

Many of you have already begun your first week of training. That excitement is running high and you are completely enthralled with all God is doing and will do this summer. Keep that energy, my friend, and add to it a dose of encouragement from the next two survival tips:

survive camp 3 and 4

3. Take a Break

As a camp counselor, or other summer ministry leader (shout out to my intern friends!!!), the responsibilities and expectations for constant enthusiasm can make you feel a bit thin (like butter spread over too much bread, as Bilbo would say).

Here’s what the Bible has to say:

So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people to do in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them. Ecc. 8:15

All over the Bible, God prescribes fun, rest, and enjoyment. He is not a workaholic (see the 7th day, in which He created rest and satisfaction). He is not a pleasure-killer (see Song of Solomon and try not to blush).

Life as a Christian is not just about the Kingdom work. It is also about enjoying our relationships together with Jesus. So take a break, when it’s appropriate. Get off campus or out of town for little while. Don’t feel like you have to head straight for the next church or prayer meeting on your day off. While this can be helpful and healthy, it can also lead to a legalistic and “works based” mentality.

Go. Have. Fun!

Just remember to…

4. Be Authentic

Now we want each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the final realization of your hope, so that you won’t become lazy but will be imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance. Hebrews 6:11-12

The weekend hits and you are ready to unwind.

Detox.

Let loose.

Veg out.

Drop your guard for a little while.

The temptation here is that you can check-in your Christian camp counselor hat for a while, in exchange for the incognito-burnt-out-Christian. You might feel justified indulging your flesh for a bit. After all, you’ve been denying yourself all week! I have fallen prey to this kind of thinking many times in busy ministry seasons. We let our guard down. We see that movie. We tell that joke. We check that website. We waste our rest.

Don’t waste your rest.

Be authentic in your faith, both at camp and “down the mountain.” Here are a 5 good reasons:

  1. Your campers might catch you indulging your flesh.
  2. You have a responsibility to your fellow staff to encourage them in their faith, rather than inviting (by word or deed) to take part in the world.
  3. Taking God-honoring opportunities to rest will be more fulfilling and re-energizing for you in the long run.
  4. Emphasizing your burn-out gives people around you the perception that serving God is a negative, deplorable task.
  5. God is worthy, not just of your dedicated kingdom-work, but of your authenticity in exhaustion.

I’ve got a few more tips for you, so keep your eyes open. And in the mean-time, visit a few other posts about connecting with God, and resting well!

Join the campfire conversation: how do you rest well and maintain an authentic relationship with God in the midst of exhaustion?

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Camp Counselor Survival Tips

Camp Counselor Survival GuideCongratulations! You have been accepted as a camp counselor for Best-Camp-Ever USA! You probably grew up attending this camp. A life-long summer dream come true, you can’t wait to slip your Keens on and start bonding with the rest of staff.

This was my perspective, at least, when I began training as a CIT (Counselor in Training) at 18 years old. All that energy carried me through my one week as a staffer. However, in future years, I realized that energy failed to significantly impact, not just my own life, but also the lives of those I would mentor each summer.

Excitement and passion for camp (or any summer ministry) is not enough to make a summer count for God’s kingdom. Years in summer-specific ministries (camps, youth group internships, missions trip leaderships, college ministry mentorship) have taught me what a camp counselor really needs to make it.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 11.54.24 AM

1. Acknowledge God.

And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. Romans 1:28

A camp counselor plays so many parts: Bible study skit actor, worship leader, substitute-mom (or dad) for the homesick camper, etc. Sometimes talking about God, praying, even leading a devotional can start to feel like another “part.” The script is easy, and it starts to flow in your words and actions without a lot of thought. While we can praise God for such a transformation, we also should be cautious of becoming robotic in our acknowledgement of God.

To maintain an actual connection with our Lord, make time for your personal relationship with Him every day. That might sound impossible with all the activities, expectations, and your own personal goals during the week. I often prioritized decorating personalized notes for each of my campers above spending time with Jesus. My campers had a cool item to remember me by, but my soul was weak and empty.

When we stop acknowledging God, we start depending on the almighty SELF to take care of things. God has wisdom, comfort, stamina, strength, and fun in abundance for you and your campers. Stop trying to come up with all the ideas and answers on your own. Stop, acknowledge God, and ask for His help and right perspective of each situation.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time,[e] casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

2. Find a Mentor

Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7

You are doing a lot of pouring out. Camp can be draining physically, spiritually, emotionally, even socially. Acknowledging God is a good way to fill back up each day; however, God has provided an additional tool for your heart-and-soul-maintenance. Hebrews reminds us to observe and imitate the faith-life of our leaders.

I subscribe to many speakers and authors, appreciating their teachings’ impact in my life. But nothing compares to a phone conversation or a cup of coffee with a personal mentor. The intimacy required to share firsthand stories, impart wisdom, and encourage through personal prayers is a beautiful reflection of how Jesus cares for us.

The apostle Paul set up an excellent model for mentorship. Paul was mentored by Barnabas (Acts 11:25-26), enjoyed friendship and ministry partnership with Luke (Colossians 4:14), and trained his disciple/mentee Timothy (Acts 16:3-4).

A camp counselor has built-in “Lukes” (other staffers) and “Timothys” (campers), but sometimes “Barnabases” are not readily available. Perhaps your personality clashes with the head counselor, or your director is more focused on activities and logistics of camp. If you find yourself without a mentor, pray and begin the search. Find someone who will commit to praying for your during your time in ministry, who is open to emails or phone calls, and who is one or two steps ahead in life, so you can “carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith.”

You can find a mentor in:

  • Godly Parents or grandparents
  • Youth Pastors and wives (that’s me!)
  • Your camp counselor from years past (that will be you someday)
  • Christ-centered teachers or coaches
  • Even parents of campers

And here are tips to help your mentor feel more inclined to walk with you:

  • Fold her laundry while you debrief a rough week.
  • Offer free babysitting
  • Buy him coffee
  • Schedule a round of frisbee golf
  • Most important: find your strength and fulfillment in God first (see above), so you wont become too clingy or needy of your mentor.

Check back soon for tips 3 and 4!

How do you keep your relationship with God intimate during a busy summer? Do you have a mentor? Where/how did you find him or her?

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Gleaning with a Grateful Heart

After unpacking how to Give-as-you-go, I realize there is another important quality we can practice from the book of Ruth: gleaning.

As I mentioned before, gleaning is the “gathering of extra.” One of my college ladies pointed out that Ruth had an incredible attitude as she was gleaning. She was grateful, kind, confident, and unselfish. (Read Ruth 2 for more).

One way or another, we are all gleaning from someone. Have you ever received

  • hand-me-down clothes/furniture?
  • tips?
  • free tutoring?
  • someone paying for your meal or coffee?
  • advice?

When someone tries to offer me this, I tend to be unreceptive. Depending on the gift, I end up in one of these categories:

  • Self-entitled (well I deserved that anyway). I tend to do this with good grades or positive critiques on my hard work.
  • Reluctant (I don’t want to impose). When someone offers to open the door, or help carry my groceries, I hesitate.
  • Prideful (I don’t need your “charity”). My self-reliance rears its ugly head when it comes to paying for a meal.
  • Snobbish (that gift wasn’t all that super). I don’t often receive a sermon, teaching, or study material that I don’t connect with. I think, “I’ve heard better,” and dismiss the entire content.

I am very ashamed to admit all of these. Sure, I can be good at giving my stuff, time, money, and space… but I need to learn to receive well. Ruth was  grateful, not demanding or pushy. She didn’t reject Boaz’s gift. Nor did she put it all aside for someone less fortunate (though she did save some for her mother-in-law).

My goal is to glean with the right heart. I want to have a teachable spirit when I listen to a sermon. I want to have a grateful heart when someone offers to pay for my meal. I would like to be graceful and respectful when a person holds the door for me. My humility should shine, like Ruth’s, when God uses others to care for me.

I cannot think of a better way to describe Ruth’s heart, and the one I hope to have, than this quote (by former basketball player John Wooden):

gleaning

There you have it. Give-as-you-go, and glean-with-a-grateful-heart. That’s how I am asking God to grow me this season. How about you?

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Give as you Go: Space

Another way to give as we go is by making space. Not schedule space, we talked about that yesterday. I am talking about bursting our personal bubble to let others in. This is extra difficult for those of us “no-touchy” types (Jesse Katsopoulos from Full House, Kuzco from Emporers New Groove, etc.).

give as you go

From my studies this week, I read that Boaz noticed Ruth, a foreigner, and made space for her. (Ruth 2:14)

I know there are people in my community who feel like outsiders. I am trying to intentionally let go of “my space” and welcome them to be near me. Here are some practical ways to do so:

How to Intentionally make room for people to get close to you.

  • While sitting at the cafeteria or coffee shop, feel free to put your phone down and invite someone new to sit with you.
  • Offer a hug to the “outsider” at your church. We all have that one annoying, smelly, awkward, person in our community. Be Jesus hands and feet and wrap love around them, even if only for a moment.
  • Offer a smile to that person of a different culture or language. A beautiful Muslim friend of mine won’t respond to a hand-shake, but she will definitely take a smile and genuinely look into your eyes as an offer of friendship.
  • Purposefully sit next to the “loner” on the bus or in class. Ask questions and really listen. Or be a silent friend and encouraging presence.
  • On the airplane, be gracious about the arm rest for the person sitting next to you. Be conversational, if God gives you the opportunity. Or ask to pray for the person.

Have another way to create space? Share it! Leave a comment and feel free to push the “follow” button for more subjects like this.

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Give as you Go: Time

teach us to count the days

The lyrics above always strike a chord with me. Yesterday, we talked about giving our extra money. Today we are looking at how we can give our time away.

Again, I am a HUGE advocate of giving a specific dedication of your time. For instance, Shane and I have taken much of his vacation time to go on missions trips or serve at a youth camp… not the ideal “vacation” but totally worth it.

What we are talking about here is Give-as-you-go. God taught me a lot about this concept this week as I was on my way to pick up pizza. I have been around people every hour of every day for the entire weekend. When we decided to order pizza for our college Bible study, my first thought was “finally, some alone time as I pick up the pizza.”

But the Holy Spirit prompted me to invite a student to tag along.

Friends, I got to share the gospel with this person. I was so blessed to enjoy an open conversation about God, salvation, and purpose with this individual who has not yet surrendered Christ. It was incredible! My driving buddy didn’t accept Jesus then, but told me (s)he was definitely more open to it!

2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.

God has provided PLENTY of extra in our life. He promises it! Just as Boaz ensured his leftovers would provide for Ruth and other gleaners (Ruth 2), we to can help others from our abundance.

Try it out!

Give-as-you-go… and let someone else reap the benefits. You might get a few too along the way. (Hey, Boaz ended up with a loving bride in the end 🙂 )

Be conscious of your “wasted” time, and use it to encourage someone.

  • Get to know other people at the laundromat. (I have built 2 significant friendships by sharing my faith while waiting on the laundry.)
  • Instead of reading junk-magazines in the grocery line, ask the person behind you how their week is. Find the positive and encourage them to keep up the good work.
  • Prayerfully wait for a God-opportunity to meet a perfect stranger. Smile, and ask, “is there anyway I can pray for you today?” If they are receptive, offer to pray for them, right then and there. If you notice they are still receptive, offer your card or email address so you can keep in touch with how that prayer request is going.
  • While you are endlessly scrolling through Facebook, use community Facebook groups (upcycle) to notice the “foreigner” in your community. Who just moved here and still feels like an outsider? Who is asking for mechanic suggestions or a good daycare? Send them a “welcome to the town” message and offer to meet them for lunch. Perhaps they would even join you for church.

Do you have another suggestion? Add to the conversation by commenting below.

Come back later this week for practical tips on learning “give-as-you-go” with your space.

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Give as you Go: Cash

Probably the most recognizable way to give-as-you-go is to give financially.

This is not to be confused with tithing. God established tithing as a way to give specifically to God’s purposes through an ordained ministry (the temple/tabernacle in the Old Testament; the Church in the New Testament).

Giving so others can glean is simply an act of cheerful generosity. This requires a hard working spirit, like the woman of Proverbs 31:

hard working woman

Hint: carry dollar bills and coins with you so you can do the following more effectively.

    • Put your change in the “donate” box at the grocery store or restaurant. (I personally get excited about Wendy’s donation box for adoption for children in Foster care).
    • Tip your coffee barista or waitress well.
    • Drop an extra coin or two in the parking meter for the space behind you.
    • Pay for the groceries or coffee for the person in line behind you.
    • Put your change in a “change-the-world-jar” at home. Then send to a struggling missionary or orphanage in your area.
    • Pay for somebody’s washer/dryer at the laundromat.
    • Give away some of your clothes. (Thanks to one of my college ladies for the suggestion!) Luke 3:11 says “And he would answer and say to them, ‘The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.'”

Come back tomorrow for tips on giving our time throughout the day.

Do you have any more suggestions to give as you go? Comment below!

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The Art of Giving and Gleaning

I have been studying Ruth this week with my FANTASTIC college ladies Bible Study.

Something that really stood out to us this week was the concept of gleaning.

According to Merriam-Webster, to glean is:

to gather grain or other material that is left after the main crop has been gathered.

In Leviticus, God gave His people special instructions to care for the needy in their communities:

giving and gleaning

In Ruth 2, we see that Ruth is taking advantage of this provision to provide for herself and her mother-in-law. Boaz greatly blessed Ruth and Naomi by obeying this command.

It got me thinking:

How can we honor this concept in our culture today?

We live in a get-as-much-as-you-can society. Even our poor are richer than the average poor worldwide. Aside from the political or sometimes justified misgivings about providing for the poor, we are still commanded to do so.

I fully support taking time off for missions trips and serving inner-city soup kitchens. I think Christ-followers should be eager to do these ministries as well.

Unfortunately, I think many of us give in a “big” way, then check it off our lists. I believe God wants us to incorporate giving, which is part of our worship of him, into our hourly lives.

We need to recognize the art of giving as you go. There is a time and place for grand gestures. But this practice is rather a simple letting-go of our cash, time, or space.

Join me this week to explore some practical ways to leave our cash (money), time, and space, so others can glean from them.

Coming soon: Join the discussion on how to GLEAN with a right attitude.

Follow Campfire Grace: its like a smore: you like it, you share it.
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