You are not called to do it all!

Watch for the very profound, simple little verse in the middle of 1 Corinthians 12:14-31.
I’ve repeated it in several translations so you’ll get the bigger picture.

14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.

19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

19 But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. (Message)

19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! (NLT)

20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it,25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

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When you take on more than what God has designed you to accomplish, you create a lopsided ugly monster that is apart from the body of Christ. You need to prayerfully consider, what part of the body, what gifts he has given to you, and become grounded in that knowledge. It is impossible for an ear to see, and a nose to walk, so take comfort in knowing that if others in the body of Christ are not contributing their part, God does not expect you to morph into the entire body, he didn’t design it that way, he doesn’t want you to do it all.

Living in the Land of Good Intentions

Broken piles of bricksGood intentions are just that, good intentions. While the intent behind them may be good, they have the ability to do an amazing amount of damage to your character if you’re not careful with them.

Take a look at Luke 14:28-30

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, `There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’

When we verbalize our good intentions to others but don’t follow through, we make a mockery of ourselves. We lose face, we lose favor, we lose trust.

It doesn’t matter if your good intention is taking someone to coffee, or launching a bold new campaign, before you verbalize it, you need to commit to it. Plan it out, calendar it in, gather support, protect it at all costs and stick with it til the end.

If you can’t commit to it, can’t follow through with it, then don’t communicate it.

“Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away.” – Luke 34-35

Christmas gifts for the Homeless

My husband and I decided to take some of the money we would have spent on our family this year and instead spend it on others. We’ve always contributed to gift projects like Angel Tree, and helped to support local families in need, but we wanted to do something that would get our kids involved in a more direct way.

After careful thought and prayer we decided  to help the homeless by putting together a care packages full of useful items and then personally giving them to 5 people we find living on the street.

Over the last few weeks we’ve talked about the sorts of things that we would like to have if we were homeless. I’m so proud of my kids for coming up with a very creative list of items. This last Sunday we went shopping using the list we had created. We let our kids choose themselves what they wanted or didn’t want to include. The only rule was to stay under $25. We were amazed at what we were able to purchase for $25. For instance  one of the care packages has:

  • Super cute Christmas Blanket
  • Gloves
  • Socks
  • 4 waterless toothbrushes
  • Package of Baby wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • 12 individually wrapped pastries or crackers
  • 3 sets of plasticware
  • Can of vienna sausage
  • Can of Soup
  • 2 Carabiner clips
  • Plastic Shower Curtain
  • and one mesh bag to hold it all

Tonight we took time to wrap and assemble each care package so it would be special, fun and unique to the person who receives it. Thursday, on Christmas Eve Day, we will hop in the car and begin our search for 5 homeless people to give our gifts to. I have to be honest, I’m a little nervous, so I’m asking for your prayer.

Please pray that

  • God would direct us to the right 5 people
  • Our choices of items would be perfect for each person
  • We would clearly show the love of Jesus to each person we meet
  • As we find each person, we would not have to turn others away
  • We would be safe
  • That we will remember every day how blessed we are

Thank you so much.

Are you a builder or a wrecker?

Pastor Jeremiah shared this poem in church today. 

The author is unknown.

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I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a ho-heave-ho and a lusty yell,
They swung a beam and the sides fell.

I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled
And the kind you would hire, if you had to build?”
And he gave a laugh and said, No indeed,
Just common labor is all I need.
I can easily wreck in a day or two
What other builders have taken a year to do.”

And I thought to myself as I went my way,
“Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder that works with care
Measuring life by the rule and square.
Am I shaping my deeds to a well made plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town,
Content with the labor of tearing down.”

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Nickels and Dimes

Is it just me, or are all parents in America getting nickeled and dimed to death?

I just went through my check book and over the last month, my family has spent an additional $363 in unbudgeted items for my kids. This figure includes money spent on class projects, class parties, baseball banners, silent auction donations, field trip costs, ministry donations, church events and more.

As “good” as all these things are, at some point I’m going to have close the check book and just say, “No, we’re not paying for that. We’re going to have to sit this one out.” It doesn’t take much to break a family budget when you’ve got three kids still at home.

What I’m seeing with many organizations fighting budget cuts and lack of funding, is an assumption that they can continue the same programming and events by passing the burden of cost onto the participants. They do it in such a way, that it’s difficult not to comply. For example: I signed my son up for baseball, but didn’t plan on the extra $50 for a banner, silent auction donation and opening day fundraiser. If I choose not to pay, then the burden falls to our team mates. My child also goes to public school, but I didn’t plan on spending $36 for a field trip that happens during school hours. If I choose not to pay, then he’s given a packet of tedious homework to do instead of getting to experience the trip.

So what is a parent to do? I could stand up, and make a fuss, and refuse to do my part, but I’m not that brave. Instead, I’d like to start an underground movement that would hopefully take the world by storm. It’s a new way of rethinking things with the goal of saving us all a little extra cash. It’ll help us step away from the mind set of doing things bigger and better and push us to get back to the basics. Here are some crazy ideas to get it started:

  • Let kids create their own team banner and skip the end of game snack. Savings: $50
  • Cut the cost of the field trip from $36 to $15 by going to the mission that’s 40 miles closer to home this year. Savings: $21
  • Bring a sack lunch to Big Bear ski trip. Savings: $10
  • Build a California Mission out of recycled goods and scrap paper. Savings: $50
  • Plan a movie night with the youth group at church instead of going bowling. Savings $20

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Let’s get rid of the idea that the basics are boring. We need to learn that fun doesn’t always cost money, and bigger isn’t always better. Really, if you think hard, any great experience you’ve had, happened because of the people you were with, and not the surroundings, or money you spent making it happen.

As a ministry planner, I’m committed to not nickel and dime my families to death by asking them to fund our events. Instead, I’m going to get creative and provide an environment that will allow for tons of fun, excitement and learning on a shoestring budget. If I can’t do it with what I’ve been given by God, through budgets and supplies, then I won’t do it at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of these items used to cost much less, if not be totally free, but with every organizations shrinking budget, the cost of doing business is getting shifted more and more to the participants.

Outside the Church Walls

Tony Morgan posted these thoughts the other day on his blog TonyMorganLive.com

“I’m wondering what would happen if rather than focusing so much on transferring knowledge, we focused on helping people love God, love others and make new disciples. What would happen if we asked people to spend less time at the church and more time in the lives of people who need Jesus? What would happen if we offered fewer gatherings to transfer knowledge and more tools to help people study the Bible on their own? What would happen if there was less emphasis on church activities and more emphasis on reaching the world for Jesus?”

The last sentence is what really struck a cord with me. “What would happen if there was less emphasis on church activities and more emphasis on reaching the world for Jesus?”

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It’s easy when you work in ministry to confine your influence and reach inside the church walls. Oh, we might send out fliers and mailers to the community inviting them to the church, for an event, but that’s just an invitation. Some people, no matter how fancy the flier, or how many of their friends invite them, will never step inside a church until they get that nudge from God. And that means we need to bring God to them.

A little more than a year ago, I determined to make this a priority in my life both personally and professionally. 

After all Jesus is the best example of someone who took the gospel beyond the synagogues mentioned in Matthew 9:35. He taught on the Mountain sides, in peoples homes, in the marketplaces, in a cemetary, on a lake, in the grainfields and on the roads. Everywhere Jesus went he was preaching and teaching the gospel. He took every opportunity to share his message with others.

Sometimes I set out intentionally on a mission to share the gospel and other times, like Jesus, I’ve learned to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Here are some of the ways over the last year that I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone and worked to bring Jesus to the people on the other side of the wall.

Desert Trips (Camping) – In Southern California a popular past time is to take ATV’s out to the desert and ride bikes for the weekend. When we started doing this more than 13 years ago, we never intended for it to be a ministry. But throughout the years we’ve seen at least 3 or 4 people come to know Christ through our influence and we’ve had amazing, deep-rooted Biblical conversations with countless others. 

Way of the Master – I took a Way of the Master class at our church and it has given me a greater understanding and ability to share Jesus with confidence. I’ve used the techniques I’ve learned to share with my children’s friends, and with kids I’ve met through my face painting ministry.

Face Painting (www.whimsicalfaces.com) – I love to be creative, so I taught myself how to face paint and I do it for free at local events. I’ve painted at the Mother Goose and the Rose parades. I partnered with Child Evangelism Fellowship for Octoberfest and Way of the Master Ministry for the car show. I’ve painted on mission trips and I’ve supported local school events. As kids sit in my chair, I talk to them about Jesus, share with them the gospel and tell bible stories related to their painting. If I’m painting in my local area, I then give them an invitation to come visit me at my church. I’ve taken this ministry to a new level by training others to do the same. Now I have a team of 8-10 painters who can come do events with me, which just increases the impact we can have for God.

School Clubs – My latest endeavor has me partnering with Child Evangelism Fellowship so I can bring some Good News Clubs into our local schools. Be praying for this one. We are 75% there to starting our first club at Rios school. I’ve also joined the committee for the local chapter of Child Evangelism Fellowship and am looking forward to networking with other people who also want to get outside the church walls and reach kids for Christ.

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Face painting is my favorite way to reach people. Being out in the public, with random people is so interesting, informing & thought-provoking. It has helped me understand better where the world is at, what’s important to them, and what they think about spiritually. 

We had a group of teenagers approach us at the Octoberfest for the free painting. While I painted them all up, the CEF ladies talked to them about Christ. These were some rough-edged kids. They all had a goth look to them, and some wore occult like symbols in their jewelry on their t-shirts. They seemed truly engaged with the conversation and asked really good questions. After about 20 minutes of sharing with them 4 of the 9 kids accepted Christ. Amazing!

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I encourage you to find ways to use your gifting and talents to intentionally and unintentionally reach people for Christ outside the church walls. When you figure out what you want to do, or how you are already doing this, leave me a comment so we share our ideas with others.

 

 

You can’t beat Zuma with a broken mouse.

Zuma Screen Shot
Zuma Screen Shot

I’m stuck on level 12. I’ve been trying to beat it for months now. I had no problems flying through the first 9 levels. Level 10 took me a week or so. Level 11, I aced the first try, but level 12, well that’s another story.

After wasting hours trying to beat this level, I’ve finally figured out that my mouse is just worn out. I doesn’t respond like it used to, it’s lost it’s precision and sometimes, it just causes the cursor to just run away. 

My mouse is usable for most of my applications, it gives me just a few problems now and then, but nothing that can’t be quickly corrected.

I could get by with keeping my mouse until it just completely gives on me, but if I want to get to the next level on Zuma, I’m going to have to buy a new mouse.

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So what does this have to do with Kids Ministry or any ministry for that matter?

Well, I could have titled this blog:

  • You can’t cut paper with a dull or crooked paper cutter.
  • You can’t laminate posters with a broken laminator.
  • You can’t communicate with the rest of the world using MS Office 95.

You get the point. As important as it is to be frugal, especially in our current economy, sometimes you need invest in new or current tools to get to the next level. Delaying those purchases or upgrades will usually cost you more money in the long run. Let me show you what I mean:

  • New Mouse: $60
    Time spent trying to beat level 12 @ $10 per hour: $300
  • New Paper Cutter: $100
    Reprints from poor cutting: $35   Medical bills from sliced finger: $3500
  • New Laminator: $800
     Wasted film from botched laminating projects: $250   Reprints of botched projects $500
  • New Office 2007: $450
    Time spent for all parties trying to be compatible 5 hrs a week @ $15 per hour x 52 weeks: $3900

I’m going to upgrade my mouse this week. What’s your next upgrade?

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Hey, and if you want try Zuma too, you can get a free trial here.

Out of the Rut

This March will commemorate my 5th year of full-time ministry at Shadow Mountain Community Church. I am so excited!! I’m beginning to feel like I have finally arrived on the Children’s Ministry scene as someone who really does know what she’s talking about.

But . . . I noticed some nasty little words coming out of my mouth last summer as we headed into our Summer Blast (VBS) program. I was shocked and amazed that they actually came out of MY mouth. Especially since I am a person who loves change, advocates for change and intentionally tries to mix things up all the time.

“We’ve always done it that way.”

. . . that was my answer when a new staff person questioned some of the programming and logistics of Summer Blast. I was immediately horrified at the sound of those words and knew that somewhere along the way I had unknowingly slipped into the dangerous zone of comfort.

You might be saying to yourself, “Katie, we do lots of things the same way, all the time, and have for years.” And I contend, that’s not always a bad thing, but if “You’ve always done things that way,” then you better have some darn good reasons why. And “We’ve always done things that way”, doesn’t count as an argument or excuse.

I admit it, I’ve fallen into a rut, but this is the year for change and this is how I’m going to accomplish it.

I am determined to:

  •  Seek God’s guidance and creativity first.
    (I have a tendency to leave him behind, so this is an important one for me.)
  • Approach every event like it’s the first one ever I’ve hosted.
    (Good bye to the predictable)
  • Not skimp on dreams, ideas or creativity because it will take too many people, too much money or too much time.
    (if God wants it done, he will provide)
  • Not allow any previous “no, you can’t do that” to keep me from asking again.
    (Egg Hunt anyone??)
  • Actively seek other creative souls to challenge and upgrade my ideas and thinking to new levels.
    (Anyone want to climb out the rut with me?)

I’ve already started my climb out of the rut, how about you? I’d love to have some friends join me on this journey.

Next time I’ll share some of the simple but dynamic changes we made to our annual (annual-that’s a bad word too) Stewardship Program. Stand by, they might help you too.