We live in a society that tells us we need to be independent and self-sufficient, pull ourselves up by our boot-straps (whatever that means??), and do everything in our own strength. It sounds good on the surface but in reality it is so contrary to the way scripture says we are to live our lives.
II Corinthians 12:10 says, “When I am weak then I am strong.” So if we really want to be strong we have to learn to Live Weak. What a radical concept!! Living weak is a paradox that goes against everything the world teaches or believes. Everybody wants to believe that they can Live Strong and handle all their junk on their own but the fact is we can’t. We try and we fail because it can’t be done. In fact, none of us can do anything in our own strength. Compare John 15:5 with Philippians 4:13. John 15:5 says that without Christ we can’t do anything and Philippians 4:13 says with Christ we can do anything! That is the heart of what it means to Live Weak!!! On our own apart from Christ we are absolutely powerless to accomplish anything of any value but by walking daily in absolute dependence upon Jesus we can accomplish anything!! That doesn’t mean, however, that we just sit back, do nothing, and watch Jesus do everything for us. Living Weak means living in a partnership with Jesus where we strive to balance dependency with discipline. You have to have both or you won’t get very far. It’s like the wings on an airplane. Which one is more important? The right one or the left one? BOTH!!! If your plane just has one wing then your going to crash every time! The same thing is true with dependency and discipline. You have to do your part and God has to do His.
Colossians 1:29 says, “I labor, struggling with all His energy, which works so powerfully in me.” What that means is that we labor – we strive to follow Jesus with our whole heart. We daily dig into the Word of God and rub up against Jesus all the while living in absolute dependence upon Jesus to give us the strength to do it.
Living Weak is a radical concept in our world but the fact is it works because when we are weak, then and only then are we strong!
I had pretty major shoulder surgery back in December and had my arm stuck in a dang sling for 6 weeks! It was horrible! It was my right arm and I’m right handed so I had to do everything with my left hand! And I mean, EVERTHING! Use your imagination. It was absolutely crazy, messy, and gross! I’m a pretty active guy and not very good at being still for extended periods of time so being laid up on a couch for a month about drove me completely insane! Finally after 4 weeks of this I had my first event so I got to get off the couch, jump on a plane, and try to preach with my arm in a sling. If you’ve seen me speak then you can only imagine how crazy tough this was for me. I’m sure it was funny to watch but it drove me nuts! I was speaking at a DiscipleNow for First Baptist Church in Clifton, Texas. While I was there I met a 7th grade guy named Zach. Zach was, how do I put this, I’m terrible at political correctness and have the tact of a freight train so I’m not sure how I’m supposed to describe him so I’ll just put it this way – if he could drive he could park in a handicap parking space. Zach is incredibly small for his age and has no legs but has an absolutely amazing attitude about his situation. He really is an amazing guy and I can’t wait to see what God does with his life! During every service he sat on the floor between the front pews and I almost stepped on him several times. He’s a really cool kid and we had a lot fun joking around about how crazy it would have been if I had really stepped on him.
One night while I was speaking I was telling a story in my normal ridiculously animated manner and I desperately needed both arms to make the story work but I couldn’t do it because of that stupid sling, not to mention it would have hurt like crazy if I had tried! At that point I had had enough and went off on a tirade about how much I hated that stupid sling and not being able to move or use my arm blah, blah blah, etc. etc. etc. And all of sudden, Zach blurted out, “At least you got legs, dude!” And everybody including me erupted in laughter! It was absolutely hilarious! At that point I acknowledged that he was right and I really had NOTHING to complain about. He said it as a joke but it really caught my attention. I realized after he said it and especially after getting to know him that my temporary problem of my arm being in sling was nothing compared to what he has to deal with every day and yet he is so incredibly positive about it. This kid really inspired me and totally changed my attitude about my situation and really, my life in general. The rest of the time I was in a sling and in rehab after that my mantra was: “At least you got legs, Dude!” No matter how bad it was or how much it hurt I kept reminding myself that at least I had legs and have no reason to ever complain about anything. Even now that my shoulder is totally recovered, God continues to use Zach’s words to wake me up every time I start to complain about anything. I hope someday to somehow get close to having the kind of attitude about life that Zach has! He truly was and is an inspiration to me. Maybe he can be the same for you. Next time you get petty and start to complain take a second to remember the words of my buddy Zach: “At least you got legs, Dude!” I promise it will help you settle down and be more realistic about what’s going on.
The air conditioner at my office was out of whack last week and it was hotter than the nether regions of the heavenly realms. Ok, that may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever said but at the very least its better than saying: “H – E – double hockey sticks!” Either way my office was a ding dang oven and I was sweating like, well…. ME at an etiquette seminar. I wasn’t getting much done other than a ton of complaining so I decided to let the twitter/facebook world know how much I was suffering and posted the following: “3rd day with no a/c in my office! I’m cooking like George Foreman in here!” To which I promptly received the following comment from my buddy Seth Hardage who went to India with me last month:
“Good thing you have recently had some experience with no air conditioning!”
Now, I know Seth meant it as a joke but for me it was a slap in the face waking me up to how quickly I have forgotten how good I really have it and how little I really have to complain about compared to the people I met in India. In Case you didn’t know India is the hottest place on planet earth! Its has the humidity of Houston combined with the heat of Arizona and almost nobody has air conditioning. Most of them live in little thatch huts, grow their own food, and do the best they can to take care of the ones they love with hardly any resources. Every single one of them is still there living with that ridiculous heat and lack of resources and here I am with a full belly, my a/c (at home) is set on 72, my kids are safe, and I know where my next 50 meals are coming from and yet I’m still griping. Don’t misunderstand me, I am still deeply effected by my experience in India and in many ways my life will never be the same but it just makes me want to puke to see how quickly I can get sucked back into thinking I have any reason to gripe about petty things when Powan (4 year old railway kid) is still over there alone, hungry, homeless, and hot. So from now on I’m going to do my best to be thankful for what I have, use what I have to help others, and do my best to stop griping! Who’s with me??
I cannot believe how blessed I am to have Matt Gierhart helping me with this whole website redo chaos! Matt is one of my former students from my Youth Minister days who is now older than I was when I was his Youth Minister – trust me its pretty freaky. He is an absolutely freaky talented, internet marketing, trend spotting GuRu who works with big shot corporations all over the stinkin’ world developing their internet something, something and a bunch of other stuff I don’t understand. One of his claims to fame is that he was making money off of twitter 2 years ago! I never even heard of Twitter until 3 weeks ago! And this is the guy helping me set up a “web presence”… whatever that means. I can’t believe how cool it is to see who he has become and how perfectly he has found a way to use his God given talent. Working on this web junk has been a total pain in the patooty but it has been awesome reconnecting with Matt during this process. If you need any help with this kind of stuff check Matt out here: thenewcelebrity.com.
Gierhart and I are about as opposite as two people can get. About the only thing we have common other than our relationship with Jesus is we both totally love to geek out on the video game series, Resident Evil. In fact, he’s the reason I started playing. Anyway, we were sitting around working on my web stuff when we started talking about how incredibly different the two of us are when I said, “dude, I could never do what you do” and he responded with, “and I could never DO what you do.” He’s a totally focused, driven, internet junkie entrepreneur and I’m a spastic A.D.H.D goofball, funny preacher guy. I totally love teenagers and they drive him completely insane. He can’t get up on a stage and use humor to illustrate biblical truth to teenagers and I don’t know jack about a “web presence” and can’t market anything to save my life yet together we are combining our gifts to impact teenagers for Christ! Gierhart will have a hand in any life that is touched as a result of this blog. He’ll have a hand in any life changed at any event I speak at because of this website. It is one of the coolest illustrations of the Body of Christ I may have ever seen. Just another really cool thing God is teaching me during this wacky 2k9 plan B summer.
That’s it. I’m out. I’m about to sneak off and geek out on some Resident Evil 5 with my old/new buddy Matt!
This has been one of the most jacked up years ever! My ministry schedule was basically empty for most of the Spring and I only had 2 camps booked for this summer – down from a normal 6 or 7. For a long time I tried to blame this on “today’s wintry economic climate” because it was easier than admitting that God was trying to get my attention. Somewhere around March I quit being so ding dang hard headed and accepted the fact that I couldn’t continue to blame the economy for my empty schedule because if God’s hand was still on my ministry then the economy wouldn’t matter. So I started practicing what I preach and started digging into the Word – searching- seeking- praying- trying to wrap my head around what it was God was trying to teach me. Over time I begin to realize that at least part of what God was trying to teach me was humility. Which is not a fun lesson to learn especially the 2nd, 3rd, or 29th time! Anyway I got it in my head that if I just humbled myself and let people know that my schedule was empty then God would open the heavens, the phone would start ringing, and everything would get back to normal. So I made a video titled “Runks Summer 2k9 plan B”, emailed it to a bunch of Student Ministers, and waited to see what happened. Here’s the video I sent out……
As you can probably imagine, it generated a lot of response, just not the response I was looking for. I got lots of positive feedback, encouragement, and funny emails but no bookings. What really surprised me was how many of my friends called to see if I was OK. It caught me off guard because at the time I was honestly just trying to make a funny video, humble myself, and do what I thought God was leading me to do but when I look at it now I can see the reasons for their concern. I can hear the desperation in my voice and see the fear in my eyes. I have a tendency to be glass half-empty guy. I don’t like it. I’d pay money not to be that way but because of the abuse in my past when things get bad I tend to freak out and think the world is coming to an end. I know that’s crazy but sometimes that’s my reality and that’s exactly what was going on when I made that video. I still think the video is funny and have no doubt that I was being obedient to God when I sent it out but at the time I was literally freaking out. I was so worried that my days as an evangelist were over and that God was done with me. I know that’s pretty extreme but I’m just being honest.
The crazy thing is, that stupid video turned out to be the catalyst God used to turn things around. My plan B turned out to be a stepping stone to get me to God’s plan A. Out of nowhere, God dropped the opportunity of a lifetime in my lap. A friend of mine, that saw the video, called and asked me to pray about going on a two week mission trip to India in July! I told him I’d pray about it but I knew from the second he called that this was part of God’s plan for me. The day after that a former student of mine from my Youth Minister days who is an internet marketing Guru offered to help me come up with a new marketing strategy, redesign my website, and start this blog. I thought for a while that I was supposed to write a book this summer but I think this is taking the place of that for now. I can already tell that this blog is going to be good for me and hopefully offer some hope and help to others. Then through a series of crazy events, God made it clear that I needed to leave the agency that had done my booking for 5 years and go back to doing my own booking. Nothing against the agency, I just wanted to get back to a ministry based approached where we discuss, dream, and plan for ministry before money, contracts, and all that junk ever come up. This is where lesson number 2 came in: Re-learning to trust God for everything. Once again, God has reminded me that I cannot depend on my talent, my gifts, or a big shot booking agency to make this ministry a success. I’ve simply got to put my trust in Him and not in myself. I’ve learned this before but somewhere along the way I got wrapped up in ME and forgot about it.
And then I went to Super Summer Arkansas. An event that could have easily been an ego trip deluxe but I went there broken and humbled with a renewed trust in God as my provider and it proved to be one of the most humbling experiences of my life. Every compliment I received, every student that was saved, every life that was changed – rather than stroking my ego brought me to my knees. The entire time I was there I kept pinching myself because I just could not and cannot believe that God was letting me speak at such an awesome event. A young youth minister friend of mine that knows my situation bought every one of my meals at the time-honored tradition of late night dining after worship at youth camp. It was so humbling for him to do that for me but also an absolutely incredible blessing! And then on Wednesday afternoon of that week, I booked the first event I’ve booked myself in 5 years. We shared ideas, dreamed dreams and made a plan for what is going to be an awesome event. Afterwards, I went outside, called my wife, and wept like a baby. I kept saying over and over, “Its not over. Its not over. Its not over! God is not done with us. He’s got more for us to do.” That may seem silly to some but I can’t tell you how awesome it is to know and believe again that God is not finished with me – that He has more for me to do.
Its been a crazy year and an even crazier summer but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I wouldn’t want to go through it again but I wouldn’t trade for what God has done in my life. My schedule is still a little thin but God is meeting our needs and I’m not worried about it anymore. I’m just going to stay focused on being broken, humble, and faithful and do whatever I can to meet the needs of every hurting teenager God places in front of me.
I’ll leave with you with the words of a rap from Will Smith which oddly enough seems to fit here:
“I got my X-ray vision through all in my way. No Plan B, it distracts from Plan A.”
No more plan B for me. I’ll stick to God’s Plan A. Its safer there and a lot more fun.
I am seeing something over and over that has become of great concern to me. We are living in a time of incredible spirituality without any grounding in anything other than tolerance, relevance, and humanistic ideas. As a result, our faith is being challenged more than ever and my concern is that most of us are not prepared for the onslaught of non-Biblical ideas that we continually face. I am afraid that when our faith is challenged we will not have the tools to defend what we have always been taught and have always believed. I am afraid that we have a generation that doesn’t know what they believe or why they believe it. Students, I challenge you to seek a deeper understanding of the truth in the face of a world that doesn’t believe in it, so that when your faith is challenged you will be able to stand firm in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. You need to get beyond the “Sunday School” answers! Trust me, at sometime in your life John 3:16 will not be enough to answer the questions you will face. You need to know what you believe and why you believe it so you can take a stand for what is true and not look like a complete idiot. Check out – Josh Mcdowell’s web site or Christian Answers.net. They have some awesome stuff to help you know what you believe and understand how to defend it. Hang in there and know that I am praying for you as you pursue a deeper relationship with Jesus.
I have been working my tail off around the house here lately! Since I am gone so much in the summer I have a ton of yard stuff to catch up on!! The last few days I have been planting trees…. I have planted 71 trees in the last three days! We are planting a wind break almost all the way around our 2 acres. If you are not from west Texas, a wind break is a row of trees that blocks the wind because there is absolutely nothing between us and Alaska but a barbed wire fence up around Amarillo! It has been really cool for me to do something like this because rarely in what I do are there tangible results. It is difficult to look back and see something I can put my finger on that is the result of my efforts. I think this is especially true for ministers because we don’t build anything or sell anything – we work with people’s lives. When I was a youth minister, at least I got to see someone follow through on a decision and grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus. But now, I blow in , speak and leave. I get to see what God does initially but none of the long term results. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do. I am blown away every day that God allows me to do this ministry but sometimes I would like to see something tangible that is a result of my work. And I guess that is why I am so pumped about at stupid row of 71 trees!! I go out there at least twice a day and look at them. I feel like an idiot because I know there is not going to be any difference in the trees from the last time I looked at them 20 minutes ago. But I keep going out there hoping that they will be, maybe, a little bit bigger.
Here is a pic of Elli & Nick and the trees I know it sounds silly but God had taught me several things from this stupid row of trees. He has been reminding me that growth is a process and it takes time, alot of time! I can’t expect those trees to be 20 feet tall over night and neither can I expect myself to be a spiritual giant overnight. Just as it takes a tree a long time to grow to maturity, it also takes us as Christians a long time to grow to maturity. It takes years for us become what God intended for us to be when He saved us. We must not become frustrated or over anxious to be a “super” Christian overnight. We must be patient and seek God every step of the way and depend on Him to take us through the process of growing towards spiritual maturity. Just like I have a responsibity to water, fertilize, and prune my trees, we have a responibility to spend time in God’s Word in study, meditation, and prayer BUT it is God who causes the growth. I can’t make my trees grow but I can do my part to give them the best chance to grow fast and reach maturity. And the same thing is true in our relationship with Jesus – we can’t make growth happen but we can do our part to put ourselves in the best postion for God to make a continuing difference in our lives. Which is what he does best! So I am gonna try and do the same thing with my life that I have to do with my trees. I am gonna hang out with Jesus, spend time in the word and sit back and see what God Does!!!
God bless ya, Runks
How was that for a pastoral newsletter article! I just read it and I feel like Pastor Runks from Po dunk Country Church! LOL!!!