Kidologist.com: Karl Bastian's Personal Site and Blog
Archive for March, 2008
We had a pretty big storm last night and at one point I was awakened by a HUGE thundering outside. I immediately thought of my little boy upstairs so I felt my way through the dark to his room and when I entered I found him not crying, but awake and wide-eyed with fear. As soon as he saw me he lifted his arms asking me to pick him up.
I lifted him out of his bed and sat down in the recliner cuddling him. He tightly gripped my shirt and within seconds he was fast asleep even as the storm continued to rage outside the window and rain pelted the side of the house. But it didn’t matter to him anymore. As long as he was in his daddy’s arms, and daddy wasn’t afraid, he no longer had an reason for concern.
When the storms of life hit, my Father also thinks of me and comes to me. And if I will simply reach out to Him, He will gently pick me up and hold me close. And with tight grip on Him, I too can rest in peace despite my situation or the things that try to strike fear into my heart. You see, He’s near, and He’s not afraid, so I no longer have reason for concern either.
Being a father has taught me more about my Heavenly Father than I ever imagined.
This past weekend I was presenting at the GCSSA conference in Arlington Heights, IL, but as often happens when you are serving God, it turns out that’s not the only reason I was there. I was also there to meet a guy named Dave Wager and to be challenged by him. It’s an amazing thing I’ve been learning over the past two years – when I am focused less on DOING for God and more on BEING with Him, I end up seeing and hearing things I would have missed otherwise.
Dave is the president of Silver Birch Ranch in White Lake, Wisconsin. You can’t talk to Dave for long before his passion slips out – a passion for men to be intimate with God and to be men who are IN THE WORD daily.
Dave was explaining to me that as he travels around to speak to men at conferences, retreats, etc. he often asks the men if they desire an intimate walk with Jesus, and (of course) they all say ‘yes.’ But when asked how many believe they HAVE an intimate relationship with Jesus, few answer that they do. In fact, he told me that when he asks PASTORS how many of them are in the Word daily, most are not. (This was often true of me when I was lost in the business and never-ceasing activity of ministry.) He has found that most Christians spend more time reading books ABOUT God or ABOUT the Bible, than they actually do reading THE Bible which is the ultimate book about God!
Dave is a published author, but what I love about his books, is that they are simply a passage of Scripture, some reflective thoughts of his on the passage, but then two pages of blank lines for the reader to journal. As Dave says, “Men need to be reading the Bible and wrestling with it, that is how we grow and how we become intimate with Jesus, by listening to Him, talking to Him, having daily conversations with Him.”
I ended up changing one of my goals for Yosemite Summit after talking with Dave. Originally, I was going to challenge each man on the retreat to bring and read one entire book that dealt with the soul or Christian life. Instead, I bought a copy of Beyond the Compass for each man and we will be getting into the Word on this retreat. Not that we weren’t going to already, but the emphasis is going to change. I will say that I still believe that Christian leaders NEED to be reading what I call “soul books” – books about our walk with God and that explore how we are wired spiritually. Too many leaders (myself once included) read only “leadership books” and “ministry books” to the detriment of their souls. So I still strongly that we need to read more non-leadership and non-ministry books and read stuff that fuels our SOULS not just our ministries. But I’ve also been convicted that the Bible must remain our primary source of reading.
I am one who has learned the hard way that you can be flying high in ministry and be empty in your soul. In fact, it can be ministry itself that pulls you away from an intimate walk with Jesus. I’ve written elsewhere on this blog about how an addiction to ministry can spoil your walk with God and your marriage, and how blind you can be to it happening because everything you are so busy “doing” is so GOOD – come on! It’s minitry! How can it be bad? Let me tell you, it can be deadly.
So, all this to say:
HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE WORD TODAY?
THE DAY BEFORE?
Here’s an idea that my discipler challenged me with in high school – that worked then, but I have long since abandoned. It’s really quite simple, but POWERFUL:
NO BIBLE? NO FOOD!
You see, we never fail to feed our body, but we often fail to feed our souls. Our body will crave nurishment and make it known to us, via grumblings, pains, even noises sometimes! But while our soul cries out for nurshiment, we often fail to hear it’s groanings. So use your human physical hunger as a reminder to provide nurishment to your hungry soul. Make a sticker that says “NO BIBLE? NO FOOD!” and put it wherever you need the reminder that you can’t eat if you haven’t spent at least a little time in the Bible. Obviously, the ideal isn’t just the reading, it is time with God reflecting on the Word and praying about it, but at a minimum, have read something – it’s can’t help but pull you in deeper.
Simply make a rule: YOU CAN NOT EAT IF YOU HAVEN’T READ A CHAPTER OF THE BIBLE.
I am re-instituting this rule for myself today. I’m tired of inconsistent time in the Word. Are you? Not only will you read more (much more) of the Bible this way, but you may just lose some weight too!
When is a child truly EDUCATED? This powerful video asks that very question.
Back in 2000 I heard this most thought provoking poem on WMBI and tracked down the author to get permission to make the following video to show our parents at our church. Many of the kids in this video are now out of high school!
Every time I show this video at a conference when speaking on children’s ministry and disciple making I am asked for a copy of it. (We now sell it as a download on Kidology.org) Here is the video as read by some of the kids in my previous ministry. (Many thanks to Pastor Jim Crouter who did the editing for me on his PC)
Here are the words:
YOU MAY PURCHASE A DOWNLOADABLE COPY OF THIS VIDEO FOR ONLY $4 ON KIDOLOGY.org
(You will also get a Word document with the words of the poem)
It is also included free as part of my Leadership Lab #4 on Partnering with Parents
On a recent trip out of town, I was missing my little boy so I did what many parents do, I dropped into a toy store to find a treat to bring home. I saw something rather fun (and affordable) and picked it up to bring home. It was called a Puffimal.
The idea is simple, a rubber ball/balloon that is in the shape of an animal. I picked the elephant and looked forward to giving to Luke. The instructions seemed simple enough:
Please note: so easy, right? All you have to do is “place mouth over the nozzle end and blow” – in fact, they even show a picture of a little boy inflating his Puffimal.
This is blatant fraud and false advertising!
Not only could NO CHILD blow up this little toy, but not even a grown man who when he was twelve was told by his doctor that he had the lungs of a thirty year old due to his asthma. In fact, people often marvel that I easily inflate the long thin balloons used for balloon animals without a pump, since most adults can’t inflate them. But this Puffimal I could not do!
I about ruptured some veins in my brain and got a migrane trying. Finally, I went to the garage for some help…
And found a cheap foot pump that had come with some other inflatable toy. It worked, much to my relief and my little boy’s delight!
So now we have this fat round (trunkless) elephant bouncing around the house. In the end, still a good investment of a measly three dollars, but the instructions ought to read, “To inflate, avoid damage to your lungs and find a bicycle pump or mattress inflater and insert the pump into the nozzle end and inflate.”
The manufactures of this product had a GREAT IDEA, a fun concept, good materials, attractive packaging, and a clear picture of the end result in mind… a child playing with a fun animal that would bounce around in unpredictable ways and last for a long time, and be reusable too! What they FORGOT TO DO was see if a child could actually do it! I wish there was a video of when they shot the promo picture above. I can see the boy trying to blow it up and when he couldn’t the photographer said, “Don’t worry about, just pretend.” (I wonder if it was actually tied off where you can’t see!)
DO WE EVER DO THE SAME IN MINISTRY?
Do we ever have this GREAT IDEA of what a good Christian kid should be like? Do we prepare good materials, create attractive ministry environments, and have a clear idea of what we are trying to accomplish, but we never check to see if kids can actually DO what we are expecting? We deliver these broad messages over a sea of children and get some great pictures – but do we know if they are able to actually LIVE IT on their own? Without our help? Can WE even do what we are expecting the children to? Or do we need help as well??
LET ME ENCOURAGE YOU to work one on one with a few kids so you can see what they are capable of. If you only minister to masses you may be offering a good, but faulty product. Working with a small group of children indivually will give you gret insight into what they can do, can’t do, or struggle with. The reason my wife and I wrote Awesome Adventure was to create a tool for discipling kids one on one, and to equip parents to disciple their own kids. If you are in a small church, seriously consider discipling a few individual children. If you are in a large church, you especially should consider discipling a child one on one, but also consider teaching a small group of kids. Take a class for the summer, develop a kids krew of a dozen kids you pour into, or offer a pastors class once a year. Don’t get so high above the kids that you are mass producing ministry and losing sight of the individual kids and what they can do, can’t do, struggle with, and the questions they are asking.
LOOK AT JESUS! He ministered to the masses, but he poured His life into a few individuals, and THEY are the ones who turned the world upside down when he left. It is the kids I have discipled one on one who are now in Bible college or in the ministry – the masses of kids I’ve taught are OK, but its the individual ones I invested in where I see the greatest fruit.
Don’t make the same mistake the creators of the Puffimals did!
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As mentioned in the video for the First Things First Kidology online training session, my pastor challenged us to consider what “re-creates” us, and to intentionally PLAN it into our lives. Up until that time I wrongly considered recreation to be equal to play and often said my recreation and my occupation were the same: children’s ministry. How wrong I was! While I DO enjoy children’s ministry, it isn’t what re-creates me, it drains and uses me up! So I took the challenge to consider what truly RE-creates me, and for me it is time AWAY from ministry, out in nature with my Bible and camera. (and perhaps an iPod with worship or classical music playing.) As I prayed about what God would have me do to make RE-creation a regular part of my life, a dream began to form that slowly transformed into Yosemite Summit.
God has answered my prayers by filling up this retreat with 8 more men seeking the same. So now I’ve been working on planning the hikes and figuring out what to bring (and not bring). I am so looking forward to this time AWAY from life as “normal” to spend with eight other guys who love God and kids on this UNconference! As I always describe it, it is the conference that promises:
No Workshops – Just Worship
No Resources – Just Relationships
No Networking – Just God Working
Well, one of the ways I enjoy remembering or anticipating something is to look through pictures. So I took a few minutes (that’s all it takes on a Mac) to make a music video with pictures from my last trip to Yosemite on my sabbatical. (You can see those blog posts here, here, here and here)
ENJOY THIS VIDEO:
It may be too late for you to join Yosemite Summit, but IT IS NOT TOO LATE for you to intentional plan something into your life that re-creates you! There is no excuse. There is no “can’t.” You are not too busy. In fact, I would say, if you are feeling too busy, then you need to do this even more. There IS a way, if you are willing to seriously think and pray about it. You only live once, DO SOMETHING INCREDIBLE that will be a once in a life time memory. YOU are worth it! And your soul and ministry will greatly benefit. What’s holding you back? What recreates you? What refreshes you? Pray about it, and then GO FOR IT! Don’t let life sneak past… grab it and DO SOMETHING with it. What are you waiting for? Don’t worry, everything else will be waiting for you when you get back. Take a dream and allow God to make it a reality.
I’m not just typing idle words here, I mean it! What are you going to do?