Several months ago I asked my staff members to dream a God-sized dream. I asked them what they would like to do this year and said I wanted to get behind them to make their dream a reality. Peter Ladenheim came to me a few days later and said his dream was to run our own summer youth camp. Today was history in the making! Camp Dynamis Year 1, Day 1! I am so proud of him and excited for what God is going to do this week!
Today our three teams 1) did yard work for a lady who has a physically handicap, 2) put together shelves, sorted and organized food and clothing donations at the Shelter Rock Church food pantry which serves our community, and 3) did some organization and cleaned toys for our kids ministry in preparation for Easter.
Today we headed out for our 5th Annual Love Long Island, two days of serving our community during spring break. We sent one team to Guardian Angel in Sea Cliff, a ministry that helps women and children. We helped organize their thrift shop and storage, cleaned, and did some gardenig. The second team went to Horseability in Old Westbury, a program that utilizes horses to help rehabilitate and improve the lives people with special needs, the elderly, and veterans. Our team did yard work and then cleaned out a paddock, a very important job to keep the horses healthy so they can help the riders they serve.
Home sweet home! Today was the final day of our whirlwind discipleship road trip. We drove the final 448 miles today. After getting up and showering at the YMCA we finally found the Holy Grail that we had been searching for this entire trip. Krispy Kreme! O. My. Goodness! We went back to the church, packed up, ate the most delicious donuts on the face of the earth, then loaded up and departed at 8:45am. We drove across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, then had some Bible study and discussion about how God built a bridge to us, and how we are called to the ministry of bridge building as well. We watched the movie Ragamuffin and worked on our Scripture memory passages from the trip. We arrived home at 6pm, cleaned the shuttle, and sent some happy students home to some happy parents and siblings.
15 people. 2,217.50 miles traveled. Stayed at 4 churches. Visited 5 different sites that tied in with our daily themes. Bible reading, prayer, worship, Scripture memory, and lots of conversations. Amazing time #LetsRide2017 Discipleship Road Trip!
This morning our crew of 15 left Shelter Rock Church and began our 5 day discipleship road trip. Each day we have a theme, Scripture reading, meditations for everyone to contemplate, journaling, small group discussion, and Bible memory verses. We then visit a historical site or museum that connects with our theme for the day. Today’s theme was Justice and we visites the Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA. We discussed the terrible injustice of slavery in history, where we continue to see slavery in the world today, and what God expects of us as Christians. We then drove to Belle Vernon, PA where we are staying at a wonderful church. After getting settled in and making lunches for tomorrow we gathered together for sharing, worship, a word from Santhosh Paulus (one of our leaders) about his work of fighting human trafficking through his organization, Cycling for Change, and prayer. It was a great day, and we have 390 under our belt.
“I really feel called to youth ministry,” the young man across the table said to me. As a youth pastor who pours his life into students, for years these have been words I love to hear. Especially when they come from students that I have personally invested in. Such was the case of the the young man I was looking at that day.
I was so excited. I was proud of him. He was a man after my own heart. And yet, unbeknownst to him, for quite some time I had been wrestling with the exact words he said.
I feel called to youth ministry.
I understand what this young man was trying to communicate. I grew up hearing people say they felt called to ministry. It’s the old way of saying you feel God wants you to serve Him in ministry, often in a vocational sense. I’ve used the phrase myself many times, and I still find myself saying it from time to time. And yet, through the years, I’ve come to realize that it is actually not an accurate statement.
This really struck me one day while I was meditating the words of Mark 3:15-15 which say, “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.”
When I read those words, I felt God speak to me so clearly: Kevin, don’t confuse your calling with your assignment. I have assigned you to youth ministry for this season of your life, but that is not your calling.
Did you catch it? Jesus called to Him those He wanted “that they might be with Him.”
Our calling is to Jesus Himself. Our calling is not to ministry; our calling is to be lovers of Jesus. Our calling is not to doing, our calling is to being — being with Jesus! In John 15:5 Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Our calling is to relationship. Our calling is to live intimately connected to Jesus. When we are connected to Jesus, He imparts His truth into our hearts. He begins to speak our identity into us. He reveals His heart to us. He makes His desires known to us.
It is then out of our calling that Jesus commissions us to go into the world. Jesus did indeed have a work for the disciples to do. And Jesus has a work for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Jesus gives us assignments — places us in positions, relationships, situations — for us to advance God’s kingdom. As we stay close to the heart of God in Jesus, we learn that our God is a God of mission, and He sends us to declare and demonstrate the good news. Our assignments may (and often will) change, but our calling never does.
I am not called to ministry, and neither are you. We are called to Jesus.
Are you living in your calling today? Are you drawing near to Jesus? If you are, you will surely begin to feel His heart for people and situations, and you will hear His voice and the promptings of the Holy Spirit to respond and do something about what He is revealing to you.
Here’s a little glimpse of our incredible weekend in Pennsylvania for Youth Winter Fest 2017! I want to say a very special Thank you to our amazing team who worked so hard and tirelessly to put this event together and made it possible for students to come and have an encounter with Jesus. Also, a big shout our to Josh Griffin for coming as our speaker, Dan Bremnes for leading us in worship, and John Branyan and the Nubian Gents for blessing us with their gifts and talents. Let’s continue working with Jesus as He is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. #YWF17
This morning we talked about what it means to be a servant leader and did some team building. At noon took the train up to Hunts Point in the Bronx to serve with Real Life Church. We were met by Clay, the youth pastor from the church and we spent over an hour on the plaza, handing out invitations to the church and praying with people who were passing by. We then stopped by the Point community center to see were Real Life meets, then we went to their storage unit which we emptied, organized, and repacked. We got back to Brooklyn about 5:30pm and had dinner. At 8pm we made up 60 bags with water bottles, the sandwiches we made Sunday night, and a bag of chips and headed to Manhattan where we gave them to homeless people all around the Penn Station area. It was awesome and the students did a great job! We then walked up to Times Square, hung out, and got some ice cream before heading back to Brooklyn. We arrived back at the church at 11:15pm.
Today our team went to the Bowery Mission in lower Manhattan to serve. The Bowery Mission is the third oldest mission in the United States. It has been serving the homeless and needy since 1879. We sorted donated food, cleaned, prepared and served lunch to 270 people. It was a wonderful experience and the team did a great job. Afterward we took the kids to Chinatown to do a little shopping, and then had dinner in Little Italy. This evening we had a time of debriefing our day, worship, and prayer. There are two other teams staying here at Living Waters with us, and the team from Canada returned from their out reach while we were in worship, and it was awesome to see them jump in with us. We had a wonderful time singing together.