Once upon a time I had another blog. Those days were simpler days. It was my first stab at blogging which meant it had a confusing url (sinschief.com- because the much better chiefofsinners.com was taken), way-too-long posts (1,500+ words), and really low-quality pictures that I just ripped off of google images (probably illegal to use).
Technical faults aside the posts were my first attempts to capture some of what God was teaching me about ministry, theology, and leadership so I’ve preserved them here. The content is pretty different and a lot more scattershot than the stuff you’ll find on my main page, but these ruminations have still been a part of my journey for better or for worse.
So if any of the above intrigues you, go ahead and have at it! You’ll find all my old stuff below, and I’ve even updated the images to make it all a tad more bearable to read. If the posts bless you now in reading even half as much as they once did me in writing it won’t be time wasted.
This past weekend I spent four days on a summer retreat with over 60 7th and 8th grade students. Needless to say, I’m pretty exhausted right now.
Although there are tons of memories that Ill bring home with me from the trip, one memory stands out above the others. The most memorable experience wasn’t contorting my body in ways previously unimaginable on the high ropes course, nor was it watching the students repeatedly consume candy and soda like they were determined to become diabetics. Rather the most memorable experience came around a campfire on the last night of the retreat around a campfire.
Before I share that experience, and the lesson I learned from it let me give you some background on the lead up to that night. Like I mentioned it was the last night of camp. That means that I’d already put my body through the paces of a high ropes course, a day long canoe trip, and wrestling with students in the Wisconsin river. The word exhausted honestly doesn’t even do justice to describe how I felt going into that night. I was so tired I even took a quick 45 minute nap before the campfire; that’s a big deal for me because I’m pretty sure I believe that naps are sinful.
Before I caved to temptation and took my power nap though I had an important task to accomplish.
I knew that the coming campfire was the last chance I was going to have to speak to our 60 something students, many of whom were not regulars at Youth Group, and I knew I needed to clearly and succinctly present the Gospel around the campfire that evening.
So in those tired 15 minutes before my eyes closed for the nap I sketched out a short sermon for that night. We’d been studying the book of Jonah over the last four days, and the end of Jonah 2:8 where Jonah declares that “…salvation is from the Lord” had jumped at me as a perfect verse through which to share the Gospel that night. As I finished structuring the sermon I could already tell that God was up to something. Click through and keep reading to see what He was up to.
In last weeks post I shared an incredible experience I had on our recent Middle School retreat. You can read more about that experience here, but if you’ve only got time to read one post today here’s the summary of part one. God clearly and graciously showed me on that retreat that I’ve spent far too much time in ministry trying to be awesome instead of getting out of the way to let Jesus be awesome.
Today I want to use this post to explore the Biblical support for what God showed me. I don’t want to ever use the phrase, “God showed me…” without being able to back it up in Scripture. So today I want to show what God showed me as it’s illustrated through the life of John the Baptist. Then later this week we’ll explore it as it’s illustrated through the Apostle Paul’s life. Let’s dive in.
I read an excellent (albeit lengthy) article this morning that got me thinking about the power of presence in life and ministry. You can find the article here, and I’d encourage you to take a few minutes to read through it (only after you’re done reading through this though of course!)
To introduce this post let me say this right off the bat. I’m not someone who’s wired for “5 steps to success,” kind of posts. I tend to be skeptical of quick fixes and even more skeptical of lists. That said though I believe with all my heart that there’s one simple principle to embrace in life that, when embraced, will give you great success in the arenas of family, ministry, and business. I’ll spend the next three posts unpacking this principle: the principle of presence. Keep reading to discover what this principle is, and why I believe it’s so important.
In last Thursday’s post, “The Power of Presence” I shared one simple principle that I believe when embraced, will bring about new levels of success in the areas of family, business, and ministry. That principle was the principle of presence.
I summarized the principle like this,
“It’s the principle that being is more important than doing. That presence is more important than program. That relationship is more important than result.”
You can read the rest of that post here. Today I wanted to continue thinking through the power of presence by looking at the sacrifice of presence.
Over the last few posts on the blog we’ve been examining what I’ve called a “…simple principle that when embraced will lead to great success in the areas of family, ministry, and business.” That simple principle is the principle of presence. So far we’ve examined the power of presence and the sacrifice of presence. Today I want to turn and look into the theology of presence.
As I’ve said from the beginning of this series I didn’t make this principle up. Rather the principle of presence is one that’s been given to us by God. The theology behind the power of presence is this: Our God is a present God, so He calls us to be present people. Read on as we unpack that together.
“Grant, you are a disgrace.” That’s where our conversation had ended up at 2:00 in the morning after a few hours of speaking together. Perhaps I should back up a bit. I’ve just returned from a week of short term missions with 30 8th grade students and 8 adult leaders through Next Step Ministries, an AWESOME missions organization that I can’t recommend highly enough.
The trip was great, a life changing week for many of our students where we all worked harder than we ever have to help the people and ministries of Milwaukee. Though the trip was life changing for our students I hadn’t expected it to be that for me. I was the leader of the trip, and enjoyed the opportunity to experience a trip like this from the leadership side of things.
But then last night happened. Last night I invited Pastor John Timothy of Evangel Church in Milwaukee to speak to our group and close our week together out. I had met Pastor John the night before at our Community Cookout outreach and had been blown away by his love for God and God’s Word. Before I get back to the sentence that led off this post let me tell you a little bit about Pastor John.
Let me begin this post with a quick apology for not having updated the blog in a few weeks. I went through a busy patch of vacation followed by Grad. School 8-5 everyday that kept me from the blog. But I’m back! I know this is irrelevant as no one on the internet missed me, but still. To make up for a lack of blogging I’ve got a few fun posts on the horizon sharing some crazy experiences I’ve had with an Indian Pastor who loves Jesus more than anyone I’ve ever met, and some Jehovah’s Witnesses who made the mistake of knocking on my door tonight.
Today though I want to write on something different. I want to take a few minutes to reflect back on two sermons I had the opportunity to preach to my Church (First Baptist Geneva) a few weeks ago. Preaching the sermons were a great opportunity to be able to open up and teach God’s Word and I was blown away by the encouragement and affirmation of calling I received after I was done. Click through and keep reading to see the one BIG lesson I learned from the experience.
This morning was one of those mornings where I was just bowled over by truth from God’s Word. I’ve been reading through Matthew’s Gospel and this morning read Matthew 8-10 where Matthew chronicles the rapid fire sequence of events that happens after Jesus steps down from the mountain at the close of the Sermon on the Mount. Though there are a number of great stories in those three chapters that I could write on, the story that most impacted me was the story of Jesus raising the Roman official Jairus’ daughter from the dead.
If you’re not familiar with the story here’s the recap. Jesus is in the middle of teaching His disciples when Matthew tells us that He’s interrupted by an urgent message.
“While He was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before Him, saying, ‘My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.'”
So that’s how the story starts, a desperate man making an even more desperate request that his dead daughter be raised to life by the power of Jesus. There’s much more that could be said about this part of the story, but for the purposes of today’s post we’re going to skip to the end.
Today I’m continuing to unpack some thoughts on Matthew 7-9 that I started getting into in last week’s post, “Does Jesus Need our Marketing?” Before we dive into today’s post though a bit of review is in order. Last week through the story of Jairus’ daughter being raised from the dead I brought our attention to one incredibly unique thing about the nature of Jesus’ ministry here on earth. What was that unique aspect of Jesus’ ministry? Simply this, Jesus consistently rejected opportunities to leverage His celebrity to grow His movement. I referred to Jesus as a marketer’s worst nightmare because He, “…every chance He had chose honesty over manipulation, simplicity over complexity, and people over program.”
Today then I want to investigate the implications that Jesus’ consistent rejection of marketing, celebrity, and gimmicks should have on how we do Church. Before we can dive into the practical stuff I’ve got to unpack a bit more theology though, so jump back with me to Matthew 7.