Thursday, December 31, 2009

Including God In Our Plans For 2010

Years ago I was told "If you fail to plan you plan to fail." From the perspective of getting something done successfully, planning is important. The bigger the project, the greater the task of planning.

But deciding what we are planning to do is perhaps more important. Some of the best advice I ever received was "Do the right thing." Now that advice covers a lot of "how" I should behave - it also touches on "what" I should do.

What are the "right things" that we should do in 2010?

There is a part of me that is a "driver." You know, "Lead, follow or get out of the way!" That part of me was from the old school of "There are those who make things happen, there are those who watch things happen and there are those who wonder what happened."

Notice that it sounds like a lot of "me" "making" "things happen?" That driver approach grates on others who wait for God to show them what things "He wants" to "happen." They have a point. The apostle James writes:
"Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."(James 4:13-17, NIV)
Probably there are some who go to the other extreme and sit on their hands unless God yells at them to do something. That has not usually been my problem. Three lessons for me from this passage of James are:

1. It works best when I am listening and looking for God's leading me to do what He wants done.

2. What God wants is sometimes revealed by just "doing the right thing" or as James said, "knows the good he ought to do." Funny, but the more I do the right thing, the more opportunities seem to emerge.

3. James doesn't diss those who are "drivers" or "planners" or, as some might view them, "control freaks" - as long as we are submitting to God, not just seeking our own wills or becoming proud and boastful about our plans and goals.

I used to work with a pastor who had a great sense of timing. I remember discussing with him a problem that was emerging and often he would say, "Let's pray about that and ask God to make it clear what we should do."

Generally a week or two later something would happen that enabled us to address the issue in a way that could bring resolution. It seems to me that James is saying that working with and for the Lord takes both the willingness to listen and to act.

I am excited about 2010. We are becoming engaged with feeding, clothing, housing, visiting, equipping and even getting jobs for the poor. We learning how to share the good news of Jesus Christ with people. We have been working with a great group of people to sponsor and support activities that give young people and families the chance to network and build friendships outside of their local congregations. We're printing and getting ready for Web distribution the first of a series of booklets that congregations can use for discipling and evangelism.

God willing, we will have a great experience in 2010 following the lead of Jesus Christ and making things happen that God wants done.
Thanks to so many of you who have opened doors for us, created opportunities, provided financial support for the outreach to our community and shared your gifts and talents by working along side of us.


Guy Swenson - or 317-707-5026

Monday, December 21, 2009

Connecting Kids to Christ

One of my biggest joys each month is doing our kid's camp in "the neighborhood." We work in a poor neighborhood nicknamed "Stringtown" near downtown Indianapolis that our congregation adopted this past summer our congregation during our annual "Camp Outreach."

This past Sabbath we had 42 people - 29 kids and 13 adults - experience the Biblical account of the last two days of creation in story, crafts and activities. For many, our kid's camp is their first encounter with God, Jesus and the Bible. For others, their parents appreciate the chance to reinforce sound teaching with their children in a loving environment.

One mother whose kids attended our "First Outreach" during the summer just heard about our monthly kid's camp. She loved the experience then and not only did she bring her 5 year old daughter, she brought her 2 year old son and she stayed for the whole time.

Next month we begin a new series on "Super" Heroes of the Bible. We are learning how to connect with these children and families. It has become an enriching experience for all of us.

Guy Swenson