My letter to U.S. Senators from the great State of Illinois regarding the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Today… It finally happened. July 2, 2014 is the date I’ll remember for awhile.
I was looking forward to a Bible study with friends (ages 60+). I’m 26 so I cherish the moments where I get to share the Gospel with others who are older than me. I learn more than I teach normally. Facilitating for others a safe place where they can learn and share honestly and experience intimacy with Jesus brings me such joy!
For this gathering I prayed about what to share with the group. A friend shared a study with me that he had done with his “Senior” group at Harvester Christian Church that looked at the books of 1, 2 & 3 John. PERFECT! I prepared a handout with a few exercises from Scripture to guide our discussion and prayer. I reserved the room where we would meet. Most importantly I chatted with Jesus about who would attend and their hearts be opened.
The time came this morning to gather with my friends at the feet of Jesus and get our “feet washed”! Everything was ready. Handouts printed. Check. Me prepared. Check (I think). Coffee made. Check. I prayed while I waited for people to arrive. I waited. 9:30am came and went by. Then 9:35am. Then 9:40am. I kept waiting.
No one came! I was by myself.
It can be lonely at times to be a ministry leader.
The Disappointments of Leadership
Have you ever experienced a disappointment like that? I’m sure the pastors who I work with have. I’m sure the other Christ-followers who I minister with have. You probably have too.
Maybe it was an open house to help sell your home or even a party. You schedule the event and set aside time to prepare it. You cleaned your home or room to make it nice. But no one showed up.
Maybe it was like me. Maybe it was a Bible study group, class, or meeting. You were the only one there!
To be honest, I am discouraged. I wouldn’t say depressed though. I do feel a little insignificant. I feel a little impatient, frustrated, and sad that people who said they would show up but didn’t.
I’ve felt sorry for myself long enough already. (pity me).
Over the three years I’ve been in ministry, I’ve talked with other pastors or ministry leaders from all over the world and they’ve shared similar experiences with me.
Self-Pity to Appreciating Jesus
Today I don’t question what God has called me to do or my capacity with his help to carry that out.
I’ve learned that when nobody shows up for the group I planned it’s not about me- it’s about them and their schedules, their stress, their hesitation.
Jesus experienced disappointment. Time and time again he gave all he had to people. He was criticized, rejected, abandoned. Nobody- not one single person truly understood what he gave his life to, why he came to earth, and why he suffered on the cross. His family and friends didn’t even understand what he was all about until after he died and rose from the dead.
Why do I think things should go better for me? Why do I think people shouldn’t disappoint me?
Intimacy with Jesus
It’s when I really look at the big picture I understand I wasn’t alone. When my focus is on Jesus, and his life laid out in front of me in the Gospels, his presence with me, I realize I’m not alone!
When I am disappointed by people or circumstances, I have been learning (very slowly) that I must focus on one thing that really matters and that nobody can take that away from me: “the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Truly, with Paul, “I want to know Christ… and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings… and so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8, 10-11).
In whatever trial I may face, whether it big or small, I must consider prayerfully how Jesus experienced difficulty so that my faith can be refined and purified. That is where I will find my intimacy with Jesus. Jesus teaches me if I rely on his grace I can become more like him, more loving toward God and others no matter how hurt or unfair my circumstances are.
It’s Not About The Numbers
In ministry and in all kinds of event planning organizations we leaders focus too much on numbers. We try too hard to market and advertise to push people to come to our events. Our big concerns are normally the circumstances that we can’t control. We have problems with ambition and control.
I once read this quote about retreats and other gatherings: “Don’t worry about the numbers of people who come, focus on Christ in your midst. If God is not there it’s not a big meeting. But if God is there it’s HUGE!”
For me, it’s okay if nobody shows up. Jesus showed up and he is all I/we need!
Swim – 7800 yards
Bike – 76.37 miles
Run – 19.35 miles
Total: 100.15 miles
Hardest week thus far! My
legs and shoulders whole body was done for on Sunday!
I continue to like where my coach, Ryan Falkenrath, of Set The Pace Triathlon Coaching and Consulting (http://www.setthepacemedia.com/) has put me. For someone who knew nothing about swimming, cadence on a bike, or proper heart rate training he had his work cut out for him. He’s great! He continues to challenge me in new and improved workouts every week.
This week March 24th-29th is what we call a Recovery Week. Normally my favorite weeks. It allows my legs to get back under me.
11 weeks until Ironman 70.3 Kansas
This is my email I sent out to our volunteers who gave of their time and energy in our West Worship Center. Some of the best sacrificial people I know. If you serve at Madison Park, then this also pertains to you.
This is my email of thanks to you for your gracious heart to serve at Madison Park. We as staff could not do the things we get to do “full time” if it wasn’t for your help.
Please know that we do not take our “jobs” lighlty. We are continuosly humbeled and sobered by your hearts in service, worship and giving.
Thank you, friends and partners in ministry, for investing in this message that we love so much: that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him (especially in hard times).
Please pray for us as we enter in to a new season at Madison Park. On Palm Sunday, April 13th we begin a new “service”. That brings excitement and nervousness for me personally. My mind automatically goes to volunteers and making sure we have enough volunteers serving to make our guests first time experiences a healthy and God filled one.
As long as God continues to give me life and health, I plan to be a committed servant to his Kingdom purpose. The doors that opens (or closes) will be up to Him. Let’s spread the passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all people together. That’s my mission.
Thank you again for your spirit to serve and support the mission of proclaiming Jesus Christ.
At Madison Park we remain servants for Jesus’ sake,
Swim – 6400 yards
Bike – 46.2 miles
Run – 19.77 miles
Total: 69.6 miles
This week started “hard” with an hour long spin class. The class was the hardest one I’ve ever been through. Lots and Lots and Lots of hills. Hoping it equates to a good ride at Ironman 70.3 Kansas.
The next five days was normal routine stuff. Brick runs, easy runs, 90% effort rides and runs and good swims.
With 12 weeks left before Ironman 70.3 Kansas, I like where I am. So glad I chose the coach I did. He knows his stuff and is super supportive in “teaching” me the ropes.
I think everything is on track to the best of my abilities thus far. Very excited to see how this plan plays out in the next few months. I may even add in a marathon to end the year. 😉
Beginning today, I will occasionally, possibly every Wednesday, post a quote that rips me to the core. Interestingly enough, the first one is about marriage. Something I’m learning more and more about as I live life with my Sweet Bride.
“Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which he wills to perpetuate the human race till the end of time. In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom. In your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal – it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.” Dietrich Bonhoffer
In Scripture, God often calls His people to protect, shelter, and nourish travelers who find themselves in need. Practicing such hospitality reminded God’s people both of their own wanderings and of His goodness and faithfulness to them when they were in the wilderness. We too, as recipients of God’s mercy and provision, have great cause to invite others into a realm of grace. “Hospitality,” as Henri Nouwen writes, “is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.” The Madison Park First Impressions team serves in the hope of creating such space. A space where people feel warm, safe and free from distraction. A space where they are freed up to worship.
Below are the many areas of “First Impressions” that serve Madison Park people. Most time commitments are limited to once every month and during just one Worship Service.
(1) Van Driver shuttle – Drive the shuttle that goes around our community to Madison Park so people who wouldn’t normally make it church, can make it.
(2) Muggers Coffee – Brew coffee, set it up/tear down, stock the tables and welcome guests. It’s as simple as that!
(3) Greet – Welcome people in a loving way.
(4) Usher/Server – Help people find a seat in the crowded worship center. Serve communion and take the offering.
(5) Communion Prep – Help set up or tear down the bread & juice.
(6) Guest Center – Help answer questions that our guests may have.
(7) Traffic Team – Volunteers ensure the safety of those entering and exiting the parking area and promote an efficient method of parking.
If you would like more information about any of these First Impression areas, please contact Tim at email@example.com.