by Don McGarvey
The idea of church being something to enjoy probably does not come into our thinking as we plan the various events from week to week. But sometimes I wonder what we would do differently if we planned with the thought, “what could we do that folks would enjoy?”
It might be interesting to spend some time with people in your church ruminating over this question. One of our churches’ World Missions event involved having their guest missionaries ride into the sanctuary on Harley Davidson motorcycles, on bicycles, and a four-wheeler. One church divided up into teams to see who would be able to create the best display from the country of one of their visiting missionaries. One church created an annual costume event for their children and created an event for the best plate of food from the country of the visiting missionary.
Another idea is to have questions written in advance for the visiting missionary to answer during their time with the congregation. And one church invited the missionaries to share humorous stories from their experiences of adjusting to the culture and language of their country.
A little planning, a little creativity and a little listening on your part could go a long way in making World Missions something to enjoy!
by Lori Jacobs
The hurried mornings of alarm clocks, quick breakfasts, rushing out the door, and getting kids into the school building before the tardy bell rings are behind us for the time being. Summer break is off to a great start as we begin to enjoy a slower pace.
How do we make the most of these warm, sunny days and add value to family time?
Here are a few suggestions:
Be aware of teachable moments. In the book Parenting Beyond Your Capacity, Reggie Joiner says, “It’s not quantity or quality time you need as a family–it’s the quantity of quality times.” Be intentional about using the moments you have together to integrate spiritual and moral conversations. A walk to the park, the library, or a long car ride, can be the best classroom setting to talk about faith, character, and life.
Slow down. If you are looking for a great summer read, I highly recommend the book,1000 Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. The following quote is just one of her many insightful observations: “Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things lie in the wake of all the rushing. Through all the haste, I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.” Make the most of the moments.
Eat meals together. Experts in adolescent development are emphatic about the value of family meals. Studies have shown that kids who eat with their families frequently are less likely to get depressed, consider suicide, take drugs, or develop an eating disorder. They are more likely to do well in school, and to report that their parents are proud of them. Robin Fox, a professor at Rutgers University, writes, “The family dinner engraves our souls.” So pull up some chairs. Turn off the TV. Silence the phone. Enjoy your family meal—and your summer break!
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7 NIV)
by Ebon Carter
My first staff position in a church was as a youth pastor. I was wet behind the ears, but full of ambition. It’s in my nature. There were numerous projects around the church that I was capable of doing, so I dug in.
Looking back I am grateful for a pastor who found me on a Sunday morning running around getting the sound system just perfect, making sure the lights and A/C were just right, and getting the worship team ready to go. He saw something in me brewing. That morning he took me under his wing and began to teach me to “take time and smell the roses.” He was teaching me to enjoy the ride.
I quickly realized that my focus was causing me to miss the beauty of God’s work I was participating in. God is allowing us to participate in the great adventure with a front row seat. We get to enjoy the ride. I can’t wait for what is next!
by Cary Van Kampen
Life is made of people, places, stories, opportunities, activities, food and much more. Some of our favorite people to be around are Roger and Faith Perkin. They always make you feel as if you are their favorite. They give of their time and themselves and are positive and encouraging. They create a presence of peace and love.
We have some favorite places as well; ones where we have experienced those same feelings of peace and love. The Van Kampen farm is the first to come to mind. Memories of times past bring about feelings of contentment and fulfillment on those acres, during harvest . In that old farm house, we ate fresh strawberry rhubarb pie and told the same old family funny stories over and over—one such as the July 4 story of the love/hate relationship between Papa and Adam the2,000 plus pound white Charolais Bull.
Adam was not allowed with the ”girls” until July 4 each year, timing the birth of calves to where they would be born in spring after the cold weather had passed. Adam would normally follow Papa around the pasture like a friendly puppy. But come June, he would stand firmly bellering and gazing over the 2 X 12 boards of the corral fence, across the road, to the south pasture where the “girls” were kept.
One hot late June night, the household had turned in and were sleeping restlessly in the un-air conditioned upstairs farm house, windows open, fans whirring above the night sound of chirping crickets, pond frogs, pigs banging the lids to their self feeders, and Adam bellering forlornly. All of a sudden a crash of splintering, popping wood resounded through the stead—Adam decided it was time to stop dreaming of the girls, and take action to make his dreams come true. He broke through the corral fence and headed across the road. The very next moment, Papa was rumbling down the narrow old stairway. The old back screen door was heard banging shut and the best view of the action was from the farthest east window on the south side of the house . There was a sight to behold—two white ghosts? No, Papa clad in black gum boots and white skivvies with shot gun in tow, peppering old Adam to herd him back to captivity.
We laugh til we cry, thinking of that picture in our minds, and enjoy the retelling as much in 2012 as when it first took place. Stories make us enjoy life. Retelling the good ones gives us pleasure and laughter. God’s stories bring more than temporary enjoyment to our lives. His stories have purpose, truth and can give us life to the full if we hear them enough times and apply their messages to the activities of our lives. Enjoy life—tell a story!
by Tom Jacobs
I recently finished Henry Cloud’s book, Necessary Endings (thanks for the book, Jonathan Barthalow!). I’d recommend it to anyone involved in ministry . . . or anyone who interacts with people . . . or anyone who has a family . . . .
In chapter seven, Cloud talks about “three types of people in the world, or better, three styles of behavior that a person can exhibit in a particular time or context.” The three types are:
1. Wise people
2. Foolish people
3. Evil people
Cloud says, “When truth presents itself, the wise person sees the light, takes it in, and makes adjustments.” I’m reminded of Proverbs 12:15 “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.”
“The fool tries to adjust the truth so he does not have to adjust to it.” Proverbs 13:1 says, “A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”
Evil people are “people who hurt you – not unintentionally the way a foolish person does but because they want to.”
Cloud goes on to describe healthy, biblical ways to deal with each of these types of people – and it’s fascinating, life-changing advice – but I got stuck on the personal application. According to this line of thinking (which seems to be supported throughout the book of Proverbs) the central difference between a wise person and a fool is his/her response to correction. Wise people are open to correction. Foolish people have all kinds of defense mechanisms to avoid the truth that correction can bring to their lives.
As I read the book I found myself praying, “God, help me to receive correction wisely.” I understand that not all correction is accurate. Sometimes correction comes through people with wrong motives. Still, I’m asking God to help me to respond to all correction with wisdom.
“A wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Proverbs 12:15