Monday, August 29, 2016

10 Ministry-building activities you can do in 10 minutes rather than trolling social media.

10 Ministry-building activities you can do in 10 minutes 
rather than trolling social media.


I was looking through social media just the other day and found a link to a blog about how we miss out on time to do business by trolling through social media (http://mikeloomis.co/2016/06/trolling/) . Ouch, it was exactly what I was doing. Yes, it was my day off but there were things I wanted to do but I was using social media to delay getting to them. 

I realized the danger is true for more than just me. I also realized that some, maybe a lot, of people in ministry are being consumed by the “ministry” of social media. I use the  word “ministry” loosely, because though some ministry can and does take place online (I have done some myself and will continue to do some), more often social media consumes volumes of our time and gives nothing in return. 

So what should we do if we find ourselves trolling? Mike Loomis suggestion was to take 20 minutes and focus on one of 20 activities that can help your business. I am going to say take 10 minutes to do one of these 10 things I have listed. I am sure you can find ten more minutes and ten more ideas, but I leave that to you. 

If you need a reminder print the list out and put it on your computer or smartphone.

10 MINISTRY BUILDING ACTIVITIES YOU CAN DO IN 10 MINUTES.

  1. PRAY   
Now I know you pray, but let's be honest do we pray enough (clearly not if you checked out that last worthless link or top ten list of strange looking bald guys). Not sure what to pray for then get out that old church directory and start at the beginning. If you can’t find it pray for me, that is Pastor Charles Areson, not sure what to pray for I suggest health and wealth, but what really I should say is wisdom.

      2. READ the Bible     

This is not sermon prep! Just read for the personal growth value. Still not sure? Then look at the calender see what day it is and read that chapter of Proverbs. It will encourage you and thus help your ministry.

      3.WRITE

You have been meaning to write down that idea which has been in your head for days, now is the chance do it. You don’t want to lose a great idea, again. Don’t have anything in your head? You have got problems. Seriously, if there isn’t anything try writing a thank you note or letter to you spouse or someone in else who have helped you lately (You can use it for #4) 

      4.SAY THANKS to people

Call them, send a card or a letter, or just get out of that chair and walk over to them and say “Thank you for ____________.” I would bet there are a lot of people who need to hear you say it. Can’t think of anyone? Try you spouse, your boss/DS, or your kids (if they haven’t run away or needed the cops called on them then thank them for putting up with you). Use your imagination but that is #5.

      5. IMAGINE

One of the best pieces of advice I was given a number of years ago was to sit down and just dream. I wasn’t to let money or position be a concern, just dream. At the time I imagined the three greatest things I wanted in my life. One, maybe two might happen but not all three but on that day I was to dream what it would be like and not focus on the “why-nots.” As of 19 months ago, the last of two those dreams came true. So I encourage you- dream, imagine without the hindrance of “reality.” You can only do it if you can imagine it.

      6. SAY THANKS TO GOD!

YES, this will help your ministry. By praising God we get our priorities and focus back. With a clear view of the world, we are better prepared to do ministry. 

      7. READ A GOOD BOOK

You don’t have to finish it, just start. Books give us fresh ideas, new insight, stir up our minds, remind us of the things we have forgotten and just plain inspire us. Don’t have a good book handy? Email me (csareson.books@gmail.com) and I will send you a PDF of my book Impossible to Forgive. It’s small and you might make it through in 15 minutes (or more, probably more) and it will give you an illustration for your next sermon/conversation of forgiveness. Don’t feel like a heavy subject, then I can send you my children’s book, The Bee in the Blackberry Bush. However, I am sure you have something

      8. WALK/EXERCISE

You have been to enough doctors to know why. I don’t think I need to explain the importance of good blood flow to your brain and the rest of your body. Your ministry will be cut short if you don’t, enough said.

      9. CALL AND ENCOURAGE

There is someone in your church or ministry who could use an encouraging phone call today. If all you do is say, “I only have a few minutes but I wanted to call and encourage you in the Lord.” If you make it a regular habit to encourage people then it will help your ministry. Encouraged people do more, give more, and grow more, so spend some time and encourage someone. Warning don’t wander into criticism or correction on this call or it loses its value. Listen, I mean it! Stay positive.

      10. ADJUST YOUR CALENDAR

Take ten minutes and look over your calendar. I give you permission to take something off of it. Now if you scratch off dinner with you spouse, don’t blame me for what happens. In fact, don’t scratch anything family related. Scratch out that activity someone else can do (call them and let them know) and either give yourself some margin or put in what really needs to be done. Honestly, most people in ministry need more margin so I encourage leaving the time blank. God will fill it or you fill it with one of the other things listed above. 
                                           __________________________________

So what do you do if you can’t resist and go back to trolling social media?

I suggest doing what Mike Loomis says: “Can’t yet resist the urge to hit Facebook?
Your penalty is to leave at least one group. (Seriously. Why are you in 78 groups?!)Once you’ve made progress on these areas, you’ll enjoy the feeling, and love the results.” (http://mikeloomis.co/2016/06/trolling/)

Now let’s see what happens. I am in this too. We are only going to use social media as a tool, not a time killer. We are going to restrict our time. We are going to do real ministry!


Now, what other activity can we do? We need 10 more. Give me your ideas....

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Cool Looking Fail! or A Learning Experience?

A Cool Looking: Fail! or A Learning Experience?



FAIL!

The cover I think looks good but the product does not meet expectations. I don’t know about you but I hate it when something sounds good and then falls short of all you wanted. This fell way, way short.

I will not go into details about why, this post isn’t about what not to do when creating a coloring book, but a post about failure. I might say perceived failure. Ordering this book cost me $8 and I learned more from that $8 than I did in the book that I have paid a lot more for. It taught me so in that since it was not a loss. 

Sure, I really don’t like thinking I had something only to find out that it isn’t going to work. I don’t like going back to the drawing board, but at least now I have more direction. Now,at least at this moment, I understand the emotion behind Thomas Edison’s supposed comment “I did not fail. I learned 1000 ways not to make a lightbulb.”

What I do know is it is better to do something and fail than to never fail because you never did anything. However, I may not have a finished product or even a close to finished product but I have learned several things and for that I am satisfied. 

So is the coloring book close to being done? No, in fact, it may never be published but it was an attempt, a try, a learning experience. 


So what have you tried? 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Being averse to a minority status

Matthew 7:13Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Being averse to a minority status 

Why is it that people and specifically Christians averse to being in the minority? Everyone seems to wants to be in the majority. What is so important about the need to have the most “friends,” the most “likes,” the most followers? For the Christian is this even a paradigm we should be having? 

Most people feels that if you are right then everyone will come to you, eventually once they are given enough persuasion. I have heard enough Christian leaders say that “We have a message the world wants to hear.” The idea is that if we just present it correctly then it will change everyone into being our friends and convert most of them. 

Those who say, “We use to be the majority in this country (USA).” Really? Have you looked at the actions of the country and the theology it lived out? Yes, a version of Christianity did give Christians freedom and gave the USA some greatness as a country, but in many areas, we blew it. However, this is a different subject for a different day. 

My question is does the Bible teach that we are going to be the majority? Is the idea that Christianity should always be in the majority correct theology? 

I believe the answer is no. 
Look at what Jesus said in the verses above; “there are few who find it.” This does not sound like a majority actually the majority, according to Jesus, seem to choose the way to destruction. This is not what I heard in church growth classes but is this seen anywhere else?

Luke 13:22And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. 23And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, 24“Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

In the Old Testament, God refers to the remanent being saved and God calling a remanent out of Israel (I leave these for you to look up). So we see, God calling to a greater audience in the New Testament, the Jews and the Gentiles (all the world), but we don’t see Christians being the ultimate power.

Does this mean we shouldn’t try to influence the world? No, we are called to be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5), but we also do not need to feel despondent if we are not the majority. 

A Methodist pastor said to me recently, “I think the church is at it’s best (theologically, morally, and ethically) when it’s in the minority.”  


So let’s not be afraid to be the minority, the odd man out, the shunned, the outcast, the least because Jesus did say, “The Last shall be first.” Let’s live like Jesus wants us to and let the majority do what it wants. We will be there to guide them back to a better way when they are ready. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

What does Heaven feel like?

The Feeling of Heaven

I write this after hearing a person, I know and trust would not lie, talk about this strange experience he/she(I will use "he" for ease of reading) had of going to heaven or as some would say having an "out of body experience". I am sure looking back over my writing, it is not a perfect transcript of my interview, but he said it would do. He did ask that his identity would remain a secret. 


       Have you ever had an experience which was so good that when you just think about it, your heart starts pounding a little faster, your breathing quickens, your ears are sharper, and your eyes feel brighter? I have even after forty years it happens almost every time, I think about this experience. I guess you could call it an experience. It might have just been a dream, but it wasn’t like any dream I have had before or since. 

      I hesitate even now allowing it to be put down. Somehow this doesn’t seem like it should be that if it is written then it will be diminished. Yet if it is never recorded, even anonymously, it will someday be lost to those who are living. You might think if I haven’t shared it with the world then how can it be lost, but it can. You see this experience is a part of my life. It is something that both motivates and inspires. Yet believe it or not (I know some won’t, but I can’t help them) this experience never removed the normal doubts Christians face about the existence of God and the nature of faith. I guess the words of Ebenezer Scrooge still fill my mind when he said, “I would dare say there is more gravy than grave about you,” to the ghost of his old partner. I can always say that to myself on the days when the doubts seem strong, but on most days when I am quiet and honest with myself, I know better. On the days, like today, when my heart is still, I hear the song, that is not a song but something more and my eyes start to  fill with tears for the memories of what I felt but can not now truly feel.

So why share this now? Why allow someone to record this? Perhaps because in maturity you can share things that would only sound foolish in your 20’s, 30’s and even 40’s. Perhaps now because the world needs to know that in the spotlight of Hollywood movies and blockbuster books, quiet miracles still happen. Perhaps it is because I no longer fear that I am throwing my pearls before swine (Though I am sure there are some out there. People would disbelieve and want to attack me, but anonymity protects a little, if as you promised not to tell anyone whose story this is.) But I am chasing a goose, I need to get back to the story. 

      It must have been more than 40 years ago. I was a young person who wanted nothing more than to please God. However, I felt that I really wasn’t up to the task. I cried to God one night and told him that I would give him everything. I would give him my whole life. I remember nothing after that prayer. This was unusual because I never went right to sleep. The next moment I remember was waking up unable to move. Every part of my body tingled like when you foot falls asleep. Then my body felt different, lighter and I noticed the ceiling seemed closer than before. I realized at this moment I was floating. I did what everyone does who says they have these experiences and I looked back to see my body still laying on the bed. 

      I began praying and giving praise to God. I raised my arms above my body as the ceiling came closer when I reached the ceiling I began to pass through but immediately I noticed I was surrounded by an ever-penetrating light. There was no tunnel just light everywhere. The light felt like it was even going through me. What I noticed more than anything else was this feeling. I would call it love, and it was, but it was so much more. It was God not in his presence but in His Spirit. The same spirit that I believe is what makes heaven, heaven. It was so great that I felt no fear, no worry. Even now I know I could not have worried there even if I wanted to. This love consumed me and is so much more than love that there really aren’t any words to fully describe it. 

      I admit that when I hear others say that they have been to heaven, I usually doubt it (I guess I'm a skeptic like you are). When someone says they were in heaven and worried, or were concerned about their family or friends on earth that I immediately want to dismiss them. I ask myself, “How could you? If God was there? How could you?”  I do really try and keep an open mind, but I also know that God works with some people different than me and also that some people are either dreaming or (and I know this isn't polite to say but) they're lying. 

      However, it is that feeling of “more than love” that causes my heart to quicken and my body react the way it does. It is what makes me long for heaven and maybe it's what keeps me anchored in life. The latter I am not really sure. I do know this I have never wanted to leave this life before my appointed time. It is this “more than love” I have never felt since I floated down to my body and back to sleep. This “more than love” which if I know only by a faint memory and yet I know it better than I know my spouse. 

     Sometimes in church and sometimes in prayer I can feel just the edges of it. It's hard to describe but it's almost like seeing a flower when you get the get a brief look at a color, or maybe it's more like recognizing that it is a person the kindergartener is drawing. 

      I hope that gives you what you want. It is so little to describe something so profound and yet perfect for something that seems so elusive. I don’t fear death, but I also don’t seek it anytime soon. I want to do all that I can now. 

     I will say this, C.S. Lewis is right. When God breaks forth on the stage of life, the play will be over and you will either love him or be terrified of him. You will want to be with him forever or separated from him forever. How do I know this? I just do. It feels right. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

The world won’t write itself, you can.

“To make a better world, 
my dear sir, 
you must write a new world. 
So begin, the world won’t write itself.” 

I don’t know if this is original to me or if someone said it before but it came to me a few days ago. The truth is not original but then there are no new truths just old ones, repackaged. I have shared it (leaving out the word ‘sir’) on Twitter and Facebook as my own but in reality, it is to me not from me. 
Everyone has a role to play in the creation of the future, some may seem small but all are important. For me besides, my role as Father and Pastor, I am a writer. I know I am not the greatest or the best. I am probably not even in the top 20 of great writers here in Tell City, but I that is not the issue. The issue for me is that writers are supposed to write. 
I do not know how what I do can change the world but that isn’t again the issue. I may layout plot lines and cause the protagonist to get to the right place and come to the right conclusion but I am an amateur to God the great writer. God takes characters who have free will and moves their lives to his end and somehow He is going to use what I write for that purpose. So once again I don’t need to figure it out, I need to write. 
Greater than not understanding how or why to use someone under-qualified, I am afraid. I am afraid of criticism, failure, and ridicule, after all, I am not that great. However, who am I here to work for? God, so if God says write, then I should write. Maybe this is the one talent (Jesus’ parable on the talents/money) that I can’t double or even do much with, but if I at least put it into my equivalent of the bank, it will earn some interest and maybe that will be able to be used of him is some way I could never imagine. 
So what am I doing? Writing. Is it any good? Well if it isn’t you won’t be back to this blog, but then at the end of the day this blog doesn’t pay me anything nor do I earn any money on it. Maybe it won’t even inspire you, but if it does, then maybe, just maybe, my little effort will have sparked you and you are the person who will write, I mean, right the direction of the world with your words? 
My job is to write, period. Results aren’t in my department. Besides who knows, maybe what I write will right the world. However, nothing will happen if I don’t write. 

I might add nothing is going to happen if you don’t write, So begin, my dear sir/lady, the world won’t right/write itself.

CSA