Archive for June 2011

Comfortable with Wet Logs? (a blog post about calling & courage)   1 comment

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Ever try to light a wet piece of firewood? 

In the Old Testament, there’s a story about the prophet Elijah and his challenge against 450 of the prophets of Baal, a pagan idol.  Elijah worshipped the one true God, the prophets of Baal had a pagan god, and the current leader of the land, Ahab, was trying to worship all the gods.  In this challenge, Elijah and the other prophets each put sacrifices on some wood and they are supposed to call upon their gods to make the wood catch fire for a burnt offering.  Whichever side was successful would prove that they had the real god to follow.  The prophets of Baal go first, but are unsuccessful after calling on Baal all day long. (Elijah even taunts them a bit – it’s worth reading for yourself.)

When it’s Elijah’s turn, he doesn’t go about it the same way.  Instead, God has Elijah put water over the sacrifice and the wood.  Not just a little bit of water, but big jars full of water four different times – enough to soak the sacrifice and wood, and fill a trench around the altar as well.  

Elijah then begins to pray to God – and, wouldn’t you know it,  God lights the fire, burns the sacrifice & the wood and evaporates all the water and dust around until nothing is left.

When I shared this story from 1 Kings with my ten year old son today, he said, “Well, that’s because nothing’s impossible for God, right?”

And, yes, that’s exactly right.

Nothing is impossible for God.

In reading this story paraphrased from 1 Kings 18,  I realize that God has the ability to lead us each to something absolutely incredible.  If nothing is impossible for God, why do we settle for less than incredible?  In fact, God loves to do the impossible!  Yet, so many of us (myself included) are comfortable just sitting around with wet firewood, not even daring to ask God for what seems like the impossible.

If I’m honest about my own faith journey, I’ve got my own wet wood that I’m hanging on to.  As I find myself in between ministry callings, I know I’m holding back on praying for big things.  I’m stalling.  To dare believe that there is an absolutely amazing calling for me out there – something God alone has prepared for me – is a bit overwhelming.  I have no doubt that God has brought me to this point in my journey – He has been faithful to call and prepare me for exactly what I need to be doing all along.  In my heart, I believe that there is something incredible right around the corner…as a couple, my husband and I both have seen God’s hand in all that’s happened in the last month & we just know God’s got us in His hands.

Yet I’m a little afraid to ask God to lead me to the next thing.  It’s safe to be where I am now, staying with what’s comfortable, easy, familiar.

God can do what seems impossible.  Elijah knew that, so he prayed for God to do what seemed impossible anyway and God was faithful.  I wonder if I’m alone in holding back from asking God to do what seems impossible?  How many of us are holding back from what can be incredible to settle for what seems safe?  Are you holding on to wet wood of your own?

I don’t think it will be long until I dare ask God for the next steps in my journey – but I do admit that I’m holding back.  What if God has prepared me for something that seems too impossible, too incredible?  Join me in praying for the courage and faith of Elijah!  
Yours in Christ,
Erin

 

Posted June 23, 2011 by erinjackso in Uncategorized

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Frayer for Youth Ministry   Leave a comment

My oldest son just completed the 4th grade.  In his science class, they were required to complete “frayers” in their science journal.  It had been a while since I was in 4th grade, so I admit I didn’t know exactly what a frayer was when it was first assigned.  Basically, you divide your paper into four quadrants and label them – Definition, Properties, Examples, Non-examples.  So, in the case of “rocks,” for example, you have the definition in one quadrant, you can list its properties like “non-living” and “natural” in the second quadrant.  Examples could be sandstone or marble, non-examples could be minerals like quartz or diamond.  You get the idea.

As I’ve entered this phase of discernment – recently laid off from a youth ministry position, now trying to discern where God is leading me next – the idea of a frayer for my own personal role in youth ministry makes sense. 

So, if I labeled my own frayer “My Personal Ministry Passions,” here’s what you might see in the quadrants:

Definition – the areas of ministry where my personal passion and heart’s desire/sense of God’s call on my life most closely align with the work at hand

Properties –
  • these areas of ministry bring me joy
  • I’m excited about them
  • I get pumped when I see it happening
  • brings sense of fulfillment
  • I sense God getting glory through faithfully doing work I was called to do
  • Best uses my strengths/gifts/skills

Examples (things that bring me the most joy) 
  • loving on students and getting them to understand God’s grace and plan for them
  • teaching students to be leaders in ministry
  • mentoring students to find their own spiritual gifts and to discern God’s call on their lives
  • teaching students to be compassionate
  • inspiring others to do something about injustice
  • having a heart for youthworkers who are in desperate need for self-care, mentors and pastoral care to keep from burning out in an often misunderstood profession
  • helping others through mission work (Mission trip, 30 Hour Famine)
  • teaching junior high Bible study
  • inspiring youth to read their own Bible
  • creating spiritual retreats and other moments to bring students closer to Christ
  • trying new adventures
Non-examples (things that do NOT bring me the most joy)
  • Sitting in staff meetings
  • Church politics
  • Paperwork
  • Missing out on personal Sabbath, Bible study, worship, pastoral care
  • Sitting at my computer/desk
  • Counting heads instead of monitoring spiritual growth
  • Leading a group in song (those who’ve heard me sing will attest)
  • Too much time away from family
  • Most technical support things like running the sound board

 

This frayer concept might be helpful in bringing clarity to other decision making processes – I could see this helping youth to figure out what God might be calling them to do with their lives.  After all, adolescence is a time of figuring out who we are and how we fit in God’s Kingdom – what about a frayer to define who you are/who you desire to be?  

 

Each of us have been given unique gifts from God to be used in this lifetime – why settle for something that’s just okay when something truly awesome could be an option?

 

Please leave a comment if you have any thoughts to share/other ideas where this could be used.

 

Love in Christ,

Erin