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!
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?
Dan and I, March 4th, 2008
Today I got one of those calls none of us wants to get. When I saw “Dan Rase” on my phone it didn’t matter that I was about to go out the door with my little boy for a father-son evening, this was a good friend calling – even if it had to be short and offer to call back, I was so glad he was calling. Instead it was his wife, Joyce. As soon as I heard her voice I knew something was wrong, but I was not prepared for her to tell me that Dan had gone to meet the Lord early this morning due to a heart attack while he slept.
I had just seen Dan at the Kidology Gathering at CPC in San Diego. Afterward, even though it was nearly 11pm, we stood outside enjoying the cool evening California weather and talked until after midnight. We talked about life, our marriages, our ministries, our failures, our disappointments, our hopes and dreams… and our adopted children. It was one of those conversations that marks you and changes you. I was sick that whole week and running pretty weak, but knew that God had me there that week for that very conversation with Dan. We connected at a deep level as our friendship had grown over the years. His wife told me she had to call me today and let me know that Dan had passed away, but that something had happened out there at CPC and that he had come back somehow new and different. And that my friendship meant a lot to him. It was mutual. And I am going to miss him so much. He just celebrated his 43rd birthday last Thursday.
(click image for larger view)
I met Dan several years ago at a Kid U in Columbus, Ohio. He was the children’s pastor at Temple Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Ohio. Later, his wife and daughter came to a Kidology seminar in Crystal Lake, IL. That was when I really got to know them. When I heard the miracle story of how Dan and Joyce got their little girl – it was a turning point in Sara and my life in our journey toward adoption. They visited our church the Sunday after the conference and we went out to my favorite restaurant for lunch to get to know each other better.
Here we are at church with Dan, Joyce and McKayla, though they called her Kaylee.
Kaylee wants my Portillo’s hat!
She got my hat!
It looked better on her anyway. (See her proud dad behind her)
When I tell our story of how we ended up adopting, I have often began with the day I met Dan and Joyce and little Kaylee. It was a turning point for me. When adoption finally didn’t feel like a “Plan B” after not having any children of my own, and instead I began to pray that if God wanted us to adopt, that he might drop a child into our life like He did for Dan and Joyce. Five months later, that’s exactly what God did.
My friendship with Dan continued to grow. We crossed paths again at the Kid U in Columbus in 2006 where he and Joyce got to meet Luke. (We still have the little toy they brought him as a gift.) In 2007 Dan served on the Kidology CP Team and through the application process for that I got know him even better.
When asked how he came to know Christ, Dan wrote:
I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home where both of my parents not only professed faith in Christ but lived it out in their daily lives. In December of 1973, my home church was conducting a Revival Meeting with Evangelist Ron Comfort. As he spoke during the Thursday evening service the Lord began to work in my life and for the first time I realized that my godly heritage was not enough, that I was lost and needed to be saved. I did not do anything about it that evening. However the Lord continued to convict me of my need, and that next day, at the age of eight, I curled up behind a chair in my grandma’s house and asked Christ to save me.
While a youth pastor in title, Dan explained his journey into children’s ministry:
When I came to Temple my job description stated that my primary responsibility was to head up the youth ministry and my secondary responsibility would be to “oversee and administer” age three through college. This worked fairly well for a couple of years until I found myself in a predicament, an overseer with no one to oversee. After endless efforts to recruit volunteers and many hours of prayer it seemed that God was leading me to take an active role in our children’s ministry. So I entered into the world of children’s ministry. I can’t say the transition was smooth. There were a lot of doubts and fears I had to overcome. For some reason speaking to younger kids intimidated me. I was very comfortable speaking to teens and adults, but I was afraid I could not put the truths of God’s Word on their level. I later found out that I was selling them short when it came to their ability to grasp spiritual truths. It is hard to believe, but this fall was the beginning of my sixth year of active involvement in children’s ministry. As they say time flies when you’re having fun. I use to say that youth ministry was my real passion, but that has really changed in the last several years. I love children’s ministry, and have found it to be a place where my creativity can really flourish. I continue to head our student ministry and still enjoy it, but the scales of my passion continue to tip more and more to the side of children’s ministry.
Dan was such a thoughtful man. He had that gentle and quiet spirit that I seem to always be working on. He was humble and focused on encouraging others. As a follower of my blog, he was aware of some of the trials I’ve been through and the lessons I’ve been learning in life and occasionally write about and so he brought a book to CPC to give me that had meant a lot to him. The book is WHAT MATTERS MOST (When NO is better than YES) by Doug Fields. One of the joys of large conferences is that I get to meet a lot of Kidology members or people who have appreciated my ministry, but no one has ever brought me a book before. I was taken aback by the simple thoughtful gesture to invest in me as a friend.
Dan, I am sure going to miss you. I feel like I was just at the beginning of a life-long friendship – but at least I’ll have all of eternity to make up the missed time here, because I’m not really ready to say good bye, but I thank you for being a friend to me. I needed it. Luke thanks you too for helping prepare his daddy to be ready the day the phone rang and he needed a home.
I still went on my daddy-son evening tonight. Mom had plans with a friend, so I took Luke out for some fun running around Best Buy and then we headed over to the nearest fast food place for dinner. We stopped at the door. And my heart went out to Kaylee who doesn’t have her daddy and won’t get those daddy-daughter nights. We turned and walked over to Appleby’s instead and I treated Luke the best I could and cherished every moment. He could see that I was sad and the occasional tears, even though I kept my tone and words light and positive for him. Yet he sensed something was wrong, and kept hugging me and kissing me throughout the meal. (He’d been watching with his coat on when I took the phone call and patiently waited through that phone call and the tearful explanation to Sara.)
Early today I was pretty stressed about a lot of “to do’s” that I am behind on. After Joyce called, it all evaporated. Oh, sure, I still have to do them… but they only need doing because I’m here to do them. Dan’s life will be the reminder to me to focus on WHAT MATTERS MOST because when our time on earth is over, it is all that we truly will leave behind.
Please pray for Joyce and Kaylee and for the kids at Temple Baptist Church Wednesday is the big Easter Extravaganza that Dan has been planning. May the Lord make Easter extra special as they realize that the same Jesus who rose from the dead has also raised Pastor Dan and together they are celebrating Easter where the Son never sets.
Came across this image on a blog I follow called the Scripturist.org, and just wanted to post it so I’ll never lose it.
(click image for full size graphic)
God loves to use the unusable, which is the only reason He uses me.
I’ve had this photo e-mailed to me several times by people asking me if it is Toybox Tales gone bad?
I checked my wall of action figures and my army guys all all still there, weapons accounted for, and no blood stains… so I don’t think these are my guys.
Nevertheless – be nice to your toys!
Today I discovered the coolest website! I’ve been trying out Twitter for a few days when Kidology’s “Web Guy,” aka Tannerman posted on his Tweeter that you could watch the Shuttle in space LIVE at www.livenewscameras.com. I clicked over and discovered an amazing site. It looks like this:
(Click image for full size view)
There are several pages of live cameras you can click on and watch.There are the old familar (boring) webcams of highways, etc., but there are also live cameras of newscasts, but you get to see when they are “off the air” – even saw a news gal fixing her hair, doing the news blurb and then asking someone off camera how she did. The change from when she was “on” and then off the air was fascinating. Real people!
My favorite was watching the space shuttle as it did a full rotation as it passed over Australia so that the space station (where the camera was) could take photos of the entire exterior of the space craft for analysis. Then I watched it dock to the International Space Station! Pretty amazing stuff to watch live on your computer while working!
There is a moderator at times in the small screen in the upper right hand corner. At the time, a young lady named Kat Bockli was online. You can hear her feverishly typing away and then from time to she gives an update or a tip on something interesting on one of the many channels. A funeral for a fallen fireman, a school lock down due to a hostage situation, a multiple car crash as seen by helicopter. None of these got me to switch off of NASA2, but then she reported that there was a bomb threat at a church and the bomb squad was sending in a robot and you could watch it live! This was too much excitement when I was supposed to be working!
Periodically Kat asks her viewers to e-mail her with any questions, suggestions, feedback, or just to say hello. I figured the only way I could know FOR SURE that this was indeed live was to e-mail her and ask her to say hi. I sent this:
and within ONE MINUTE this was her response:
CLICK IMAGE TO PLAY VIDEO
Pretty cool, huh? So jump over and check out: www.livenewscameras.com. Thanks to Steve for Twittin’ me the URL. He said he’s been following the site for awhile; guess I missed the discussion on his forum about it: LIVE NEWS CAMERAS. Steve is always the first to know about everything.
Next entries »
Our small group tonight started a study of the book of James, our primary topic this evening was on suffering – not necessary the major life altering sufferings – but the daily struggles and trials that upset our plans and frustrate us, but that God is trying to use to form our character. It isn’t just the “big” sufferings that God uses, He used the little daily “stuff” too. In fact, at times, the major battles are easier as they are obvious, but we can easily miss the small battles that actually have a huge impact on our spiritual growth. Below is a piece I wrote awhile back that was published elsewhere, but I wanted to post to my blog for my small group and to archive it here for future reference.
Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate.
Hate leads to suffering.
One of Yoda’s most famous quotes, from the second half of the Star Wars saga, is his ominous warning to the young Anakin, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suf-fer-ing.” (Did you read those words with the appropriate Yoda inflection?)
I certainly don’t doubt that fear leads to anger, or that anger leads to hate, and hate certainly leads to suffering. What I’d like to challenge from this sage quote is the assumption that the worst possible state of being is suffering.
The point of Yoda’s warning is that we are to avoid fear, anger, and especially hate because they lead to the ultimate evil: suffering. ANYTHING to avoid suffering! Please, do not fear… you may suffer! Please, do not get angry or hate… or you may suffer! And suffering is to be avoided at all costs! According to Yoda, suffering is the worst possible outcome of any situation! It must be, because Yoda concludes his platatude with ‘suffering.’ He adds not, “Suffering leads to….” for there is nothing worse than suffering. (Insteresting, that despite the Jedi’s lack of fear or anger so much suffering still entered their personal worlds as the saga unfolded, could they have been avoiding the wrong outcome?)
In sharp contrast to the wise Yoda, are the words of Jesus Christ, who promises “in this world you will have troubles.” (John 16:33) Better translated in the KJV as “Tribulation.” I’m not about you, but tribulation sounds a lot like suffering to me! And we don’t LIKE to suffer! And Jesus doesn’t say we might, we says we WILL! So what do we do when we suffer as Christians? I’ve often tried to make my response to be, “what is God trying to teach me in this?”
Oswald Chambers, as he often does, shatters even my best efforts to look at things from God’s point of view, when he writes, “If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in his hands, to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across.” I read that and was floored. It may not be “what is God trying to teach me” – for that is still self-focused (what will I get out of this?) – instead, it may be instead, “what is God doing in me for the sake of others?”
Oswald continues, “God’s way is always the way of suffering.” What would Yoda have to say to that? We resonate with Yoda’s warning because we are motivated to AVOID suffering, but God says that suffering is THE WAY to His purposes – purposes that are much lofter than merely the avoidance of pain.
Don’t undestand your suffering? Take heart, Oswald comforts, “We never realize at the time what God is putting us through; we go through it more or less misunderstandingly.” So rather than rush to understand, or even get through it, rush to obey.
He suggests when we suffer we ask ourselves, “Is Jesus educating you into a personal intimacy with Himself?” I’m learning that Jesus is ever pressing for only one thing – not greater ministry works – but simply genuine intimacy with Himself. He adds, “This can never be until a personal need arises out of a personal problem.”
Without a personal knowable God, Yoda’s highest acheivement can only a lack of suffering, and even the great master jedi could not avoid that! Fortunately, we have a higher goal than a comfortable life, we can know our Creator! But that knowledge comes only through suffering, for the simple reason (I hate to admit) that suffering is the only thing that seems to draw us Godward. Without suffering – would we ever truly completely turn to God? Apparently not.
Many things lead to suffering, but suffering leads to intimacy with our Creator, so avoid it not!
Suffering, Avoid Not.
Leads to Intimacy with Creator, It Does!