January 7, 2013

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Dig the Ditches!

October 9, 2012

This morning I was reading in 2 Kings 3, the story of Elisha and how three kings came to him seeking help after they had lead their armies into a battle march of seven days straight. During that time they completely ran out of water. They had nothing left, nada, zip, zilch! Then like the wise men they were, went searching for a man of God to help bail them out.  When they found Elisha they must have thought, “oh great, Elijah’s hand-me-down guy.” “he’s the guy who washed Elijah’s hands, right?”

Now Elisha was not to happy to see them either and let’s them know it.  I couldn’t help but laugh as I pictured these events happening in my crazy imagination.  Elisha tells them to leave him alone, but then relents, only if they would find him a harpist? Wow, not first on my list of demands from kings list.  But I digress. When Elisha does speak to God about this, the answer that he gives the kings is interesting to me, and got me to thinking.  Verse 16, “This is what the Lord says: Make this valley full of ditches. 17 For this is what the Lord says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you , your cattle and your other animals will drink.  18 This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord; he will also hand over Moab to you.”

How do you like digging ditches? Me not so much, I don’t like the blisters I get from the shovel!  I don’t like the sore feet from stomping on the shovel head.  I don’t like the sore back from lifting the dirt. But I do get thirsty!

As a children’s ministry leader we often want the water, we want to drink in the large numbers, the great facilities, the sound of our name being dropped or the rush of seeing it trend on twitter. But are we willing to dig the ditches?  I believe if we want to see God really do something amazing in our ministries we must be willing to dig the ditches so that we are ready for God’s blessings. Digging ditches seems so beneath us, or so we think. From my perspective, digging ditches can be anything from; serving in the nursery to setting up tables and chairs to planning the details for a big event or practicing an object lesson.  Everyone’s ditches will be different for them. The point is sometimes we want the blessing without the labor.

What also struck me is God’s statement, “its and easy thing”  Nothing is too difficult for our God and he brought the water for the armies and their animals. He filled that valley full.  I want the water too. I want it in the worst way.  I ache each week for children and their parents to come and fall in love with Jesus.  My heart is heavy for those who choose to do other things rather than bring their family to Church.   My knees should hurt from the time I invest in prayer talking to the supplier of the water. My hands should be sore from holding his book in thoughtful study.  I need to dig my ditches so God can bring the water what about you?

What are you investing in? What “ditches” are you digging to prepare for the rush of water? Lord bring the rain!


CM Leaders Conference 2012 Reflections

September 16, 2012

I had the privilege to go to the first ever CM Leaders Conference sponsored by the International Network of Children’s Ministries (INCM) This conference was totally focused on leadership. It was a topic that I was fascinated by and so I decided to make the trip to Columbus, Ohio and see what was going to happen.

I went with no real expectations but just to be open to learn whatever God had for me to learn. I want to be a better leader, no, honestly, I want to be a great leader! I desire to lead children and their families and those who are on my team in a way that inspires them to grow closer to Jesus.

I will share more as I have time to reflect but let me first focus on something that happened that God pointed to my heart  as I was sitting alone in my hotel room.

One of my new friends, Ron Brooks, came from Michigan to this conference.  I am blessed to call him a friend. This  young man inspires my heart because he’s walking through some tough days and yet, he keeps a big smile on his face and his eyes on Jesus. He is taking a bold and courageous step of faith by working with a church that can’t even afford to pay him what he’s worth. He doesn’t have a regular job yet and he yet he will tell you that God is going to supply. He did for Ron to come to this conference and I loved hanging out with him.  Ok, back to the story, I had invited Ron to join me for dinner and we and some other headed off to Chipotle. When we arrived the line was really long and one of the guys quickly suggested, White Castle! OH MAN! I jumped over the wall and was out the door leaving Ron stunned and wondering what I was doing, (Because I had told him I was buying dinner!) LOL!! He stood there watching me run down the sidewalk.  All of the sudden, I froze in my tracks, as I realized, “What am I doing? I promised Ron dinner!  Wow What a friend I am to just abandon my friend.  ( FYI, I did run back and give him some cash so he could buy his dinner and yes, I got my White Castle!)

The Lesson came as I was laughing to myself, about the events of the past nights dinner. It was then I felt God speaking, “You’ve line jumped before, Tom. You had your eyes on a project and then all of the sudden, You jump the line and run off to another thing only to realize or sometimes not that you left the original plan unfinished, the lesson unlearned. You need to slow down, even stop! and make sure your still in line with what I want you to do.”  Wow! I realized there have been many times I have jumped from project to project, program to program without really seeking God’s plan to see if I should jump or not.

I have made many promises and commitments to be a better leader, father, husband, person, and jump to something else that I would promise anew.  I jump way to often.

I spent the rest of the time sitting in my room in silence to hear God speak again, just walk with me, don’t jump into your day, be still and know! Stay in line with me and  you will see some great things.

Time to make a sign: No Line Jumping!


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