Remembering that run I took just now…

This morning–just a little while ago in fact–God said something to me:

“Let’s go for a run.”

My gentle, submissive response was simply:

“What are you, crazy?!?  It’s like 9 a.m. and its already 90 degrees out there.  The humidity is topping 8 billion percent!  And don’t even get me started on the winter weight I vowed to shed before summer and here we are mid-July and I’ve just resolved that I need to keep it on in order to stay warm this coming winter.  A run?  Think again, God.”

But God persisted.  “Let’s go for a run.”

Since my first soliloquy didn’t do the trick, I figured I’d humor God.  I’d go for a run.  *Please keep in mind that I’m no runner. I don’t like running. I don’t get it. I find the notion of a “runner’s high” one of the most mind-boggling concepts in all of humanity.

But I went for a run because God said “Let’s go for a run.”

I took nothing with me but an ice cold water bottle from the fridge figuring that if God wanted me to run this was going to be some all-day affair and I’d need hydration while I lay in some faraway ditch somewhere waiting for medical assistance.  I left a note on our whiteboard that would surely catch the attention of anyone who knows me…

went for a run

I stepped out of my front door into the morning sun ravaging any trace of coolness left on my face from my comfy air conditioned home.  I gave a deep sigh and breathed out a quick “Okay. Let’s go for a run.”

I hadn’t reached the end of the street before cardiac distress set in.  I thought for sure that “this is the big one, ‘Lizabeth!”  But in a moment it died down and I found a cadence I could live with.  Or at least avoid dying with.  No sooner did I decide that come what may I wasn’t going to turn back, did I hear God speak to me again.  But I think God knew my heart, knew what I was thinking, and wanted to teach me some truths about some stuff.  Hang with me, especially if you’re in ministry (but even if you’re not).  Here are a few things God said:

“Ignore the houses.”…You see when I started running my imagination had someone in each house I passed looking out from their air conditioned splendor at me and speaking one of two things: Either it was “Look at that moron running in zillion degree heat and humidity.” OR “Wow, look at that guy running despite the heat and humidity. What an inspiration!”  God reminded me that it doesn’t matter what onlookers think or say when it comes to me and my obedience to God.  Because you know what? There’ll always be both kinds of onlookers–those who are critical of you and those who are inspired by you.  For the sake of your obedience and sanity, give neither of them much attention.

“Run in the shade.”…As leaders we can sometimes get this martyrdom complex like we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders and somehow we find some kind of validation in taking the position of the pack mule.  Like Eeyore in the hundred acre wood, we give off this, “Oooh, I’ll be fine. Go on without me” vibe.  As if the disciple who needlessly carries the most weight wins.  NO!  God said to me, “You see that shade? Its cooler over there, Einstein. Run in the shade while shade is there.”  We all need constant refreshment in our spirit.  Not one of us can run and run and run and give and give and give without getting replenished.  Where is your shade?  Where is it you can go each day to find refreshment for your spirit?  On a spiritual level? On a personal level? On a professional level? On a marital level? On a parental level? On an emotional level?  By all means keep running, but run in the shade whenever you see it!  I foolishly thought my run would be more hardcore, more honorable, and somehow better if I did all I could to shrug off any comfort along the way.  What an idiotic thought.

“Ask me where to go.”…Okay, now don’t get weirded out by this one but when I left my house I didn’t have an idea of my route. When I reached the first stop sign I had to go left or right.  I quickly asked God “Which way?”  God said “Left.” I ran left.  I don’t think we can overstate how important it is to be in step with God and where he’s leading you.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been where you are for 20 years or 20 minutes.  If you’re following Jesus you’re more than likely in danger of assuming you know the way He’s going.  Paul taught us to “walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16).  Its always a good idea to be in contact with God, making sure you’re going where He’s leading.

“Keep home in mind.”…Long before I ever saw my house, I saw my house.  What I mean is I kept my home in mind as I ran.  If you’re following Jesus here on earth, you are NOT home yet. Keep going all while keeping home in mind.  It’ll serve as fuel to run, to run well, to ignore the things that would drag you down, to lean on His direction and power, and to run home without stopping.

my shoes

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Continuous Awakening

This blog post has nothing to do with Francis Chan. But if you put Francis Chan anywhere, people flock.

This blog post has nothing to do with Francis Chan. But if you put Francis Chan anywhere, people flock.

Did you feel that?  I think I felt the ground just shake again.  Its been happening more and more lately.

I’m not entirely sure what it is, but my best guess is that its a seismic movement in student ministries everywhere.  Its us putting away trends in favor of truth.  Its dropping gimmicks and seeking God.  Its way less gross out games and way more grow up challenges.  Its the necessary shattering of the ministry mold in order to make way for a new approach to discipling students.

Everyday, I feel I’m in the middle of a rushing torrent of ideas, resources, tips, and chances to be unfocused on where I am and what God has called me to do HERE.  I love the veritable wellspring of help that flows from places like Youth SpecialtiesSimply Youth MinistryDownload Youth MinistryDoug Fields (.com), Life in Student MinistryYouth Culture ReportDare2ShareBlueFishGroupYouthPastor.comUthStuphCPYU, The SourceYouthministry.com, the Youth Ministry Garage, and only a million more places. (And now…a moment of silence please for the passing of MoreThanDodgeball.com…..*sniffsniff*…..Thank you.)   I love these resources. I use these resources. I value all they bring to the student ministry table.  But we CANNOT lose sight of what we are called to be wide awake to:

“Go and make disciples.”  Everything other than that should only be considered a tool to get that one thing done.

A couple weeks ago I stood in front of and admonished a room full of middle school students who go crazy when its time to sing worship songs.  I mean its an all-out jump, yell, hands-up, face-down, get after it, my-gut hurts-when-I’m-done kind of songfest when these middle schoolers gather in this place to worship.  So what in the world would I have to say by way of admonition to students who are apparently crazy about Jesus?  Simply put:  “Don’t worship worship.”  In our highly musical culture of teens and with worship songs now taking kids to new levels of expression, they can actually get caught worshiping the music that triggers emotion rather than worshiping the Jesus who calls them to life.  Yikes.

It’s not that worship music is bad, its just that worshiping worship music is bad.  And if we’re not careful we might be fostering a culture of students who entirely miss the point of following Jesus.  We grab hold of any and all ideas, hyped up gimmicks, and latest trends in order to create something that looks good to us and to students, but doesn’t do the one thing we’re called to do:

“Go and make disciples.”

That’s why I’m glad for the tremors I feel under my feet.  That’s why I’m thankful for the continual awakening around me in student ministry.  That’s why even in a torrent of incredible tools and helpful resources, I can see God work through even someone like me to “make disciples.”

 

What about you?  How have you grown in your understanding and approach to making disciples?  What have you found true and untrue when it comes to loving and leading students?