God’s plan is quite different from the concept of “fate.” Fate is the concept that our story or parts of our story are fixed. To go against fate, we ruin the likelihood of achieving our ultimate purpose or we can chance missing out on amazing things.
Sometimes I wonder what if the apostles had know what was about to happen at Pentecost, would they have run away? When the Holy Spirit comes everything changes. Their lives are never the same.
I am excited to share with you this great video from Dave VanVickle about Pentecost. He talks about what that change is that happens when the Holy Spirit comes.
Both in the few days leading up to Pentecost and those following I want to challenge you to invite the Holy Spirit in. The traditional prayer to the Holy Spirit says:
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
“Fill the hearts of your faithful” are the words I challenge you to pray and truly mean when you say them. Let the Holy Spirit make this pivotal change in your heart that Dave speaks of. Give him permission when you pray those words.
How is the Holy Spirit working in your life? Share below!
Often in the busyness of life, I can run from one thing to the next without taking the time to reflect. I am resolving to not allow myself to do that as I make a switch in my professional life leaving my youth ministry position at my church where I have worked for nearly 15 years to work full time with Dirty Vagabond Ministries.
I am thankful that God continually transforms my heart. I want to share with you 4 simple things that God has patiently taught me:
Be a committed learner not an expert.
Coming out of college with a degree in Theology and some volunteer youth ministry experience, I was confident I knew a lot. I considered myself a young youth ministry expert. I also knew as a young youth minister that nothing was more important than what I was doing. In my mind all other activities and ministries were only significant if they complimented what we were doing in youth ministry.
Thankfully, people were both patient and generous with me as a young youth minister. Most importantly, God was patient with me and taught me many lessons over the years. As I prepare to leave my position as a youth minister, I am more confident today than I was 15 years ago. That confidence, however, is a drastic shift. While I have learned a lot and gather some great experience, my confidence resides not in me, but in Jesus Christ.
I’ve worked to shift the attitude of my heart from being an expert to being a committed learner. Experts have arrived while committed learners are always seeking to grow as a leader. The best leaders never stop learning. When you believe you are an “expert” you can only see what you have done. It becomes easy to overlook what God has done and the new things he is currently doing.
Let your confidence rest in God and your heart and mind be open to learning.
It’s all about people. Love people.
This might seem like a no brainer, but it’s truly worth mentioning. When I first started in ministry, I was driven. I knew some of the things that needed to happen to make youth ministry great. I knew that people were necessary to make that happen. The end goal was noble but at first people were a means to an end. I needed them if I was going to achieve ministry greatness…
When you are rebuilding or starting a youth ministry, you are looking for great core team members. They are people who give of themselves on a regular basis and pour their lives into the lives of teenagers. One of the greatest tasks the youth minister faces is putting into place a plan to recruit, train, and retain good volunteers.
Over the years, only one strategy has ever worked for me: love people. People are never a means to an end. People are always the end in themselves first. Loving others is never a wasted an opportunity, even if they don’t turn out to be a volunteer or someone who helps you personally. I learned this lesson first and foremost from a community of people at our parish that loved me and have become a part of our family over the years.
Serving at one parish for a long time allowed me to see the fruit of loving people. We have an amazing core team today because each of the members of the core team were former teenagers from our youth ministry program. I’ve been blessed to walk alongside these young adults throughout their lives and love them. Love changes hearts and real love always leads us closer to Jesus.
Love people. Love takes time, energy, and can even be painful, but nothing else really matters if love is absent.
Lead with Vision.
I’ve often said that I would love to have my life and my ministry defined by being a person of vision. I thought about inserting some pithy quote about vision here but decided to instead explain what I mean by vision.
To me vision is defined as discerning what God is calling you to do and doing whatever it takes to make that happen. It’s a long term goal that you are willing to put your life behind. Vision means having the courage to dream big and to take bold actions to make those dreams become realities.
We are not called to be dreamers whose lofty dreams leave as quickly as they come. I pray that each of us can learn to pray through what God is calling us to do and be willing to take decisive action and invest our lives to see those visions become reality.
Let us pray that God will give us a vision for our lives, our families, and our ministries.
Discipleship is the heart of the matter and a matter of the heart.
Disciple is one of the most misused and misunderstood words. It’s one of the words and phrases we use too much without thinking about the true meaning.
Too often we think of discipleship in terms of the actions we take.
- Go to church
- Give Money
- Attend activities at church
This list can go on and on…My point isn’t that these are not activities disciples need to do; it’s that discipleship is not first and foremost an activity. Discipleship is a fundamental movement of our hearts. Discipleship starts with our surrender to Jesus, not with doing the actions of a disciple.
It’s quite possible to look like a disciple while not being a disciple. I say this primarily not as judgment of others but as a reality I have known in my own life. I can do the things that a disciple does and not have my heart in it. I can do the things a disciple does and do them for my own gain.
I have come to realize over and over again that God wants my heart first and foremost. It’s in and through the lens of that relationship that those actions of a disciple have meaning. Disciples of Jesus didn’t just follow instructions of Jesus, they followed him. They ate with him. They laughed with him. They went where he went. Like Peter, they dropped their fishing nets and left everything to do so.
Think about the actions of a young man falling in love with a young woman. He sends her flowers, writes her notes, sends her text messages, etc. If you were to do these actions without a relationship you would seem less like someone falling in love and more like a stalker.
Sometimes we can seem to be just stalking God. We are doing the actions of a disciple without the relationship. It’s not just about the heart, but it starts with our hearts, each and every day. Take a step to grow in your relationship with God today. Give him your heart and listen to his heart beating for you.
God keeps teaching me that he is enough for me. I get distracted. I lose focus. I want it all. Sin can seem alluring, but sin never satisfies. It only leaves you wanting more.
God alone is enough. Surrender to him today and every day.
What has God been teaching you recently? Share below.
While we wait, what is God doing? That is the question that Dave VanVickle considers in this week’s #ShareJesus video. We also want to invite you to join us in a Novena to the Holy Spirit.
Did you know that on May 4, 1897, Pope Leo XIII said: “We decree and command that throughout the whole Catholic Church, this year and in every subsequent year, a novena shall take place before [Pentecost}, in all parish churches.”
The Pentecost novena is the original novena celebrating the nine days between Ascension and Pentecost.
Join Christians all over the world in praying for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit starting on Friday.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. And kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your spirit, Lord, and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray, O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of your faithful;grant that in the same Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in his consolation. Through the same Christ, our Lord.
Holy Father, in the name of Jesus, send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.
Come, Spirit of Wisdom, detach us from the things of earth, and pour into us a love and desire for those of heaven. Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.
Come, Spirit of Understanding, illumine our minds with the light of eternal truth and enrich them with holy thoughts. Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.
Come, Spirit of Counsel, make us docile to your inspirations and guide us in the way of salvation. Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.
Come, Spirit of Fortitude, give us strength, constancy, and victory in the battle against our spiritual enemies. Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.
Come, Spirit of Knowledge, be teacher of our souls and help us to put into practice the things you have taught us. Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.
Come, Spirit of Piety, come dwell in our hearts to possess and sanctify all our affections.
Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.
Come, Spirit of reverent Fear, reign in our wills and make us always ready of suffer any evil rather than sin. Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.
O God, through the gift of the Holy Spirit you guide believers to the full light of truth. Grant that in your Spirit we may taste true wisdom and rejoice always in your consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
I used to not fully realize what we celebrated on Ascension Thursday. Growing up it seemed like a sad end to the story: Superman Jesus flies away and the disciples are left standing around in disbelief. Several years ago, a mentor of mine said to me that on Ascension Thursday we celebrate one of the boldest things that Jesus ever did. He left the world and left the church in the hands of the disciples. If you understand the feast of the Ascension, it has pretty serious and exciting consequences for your life.
I used to be the type of leader that believed if you want something done correctly it’s better to do it yourself. This is not the model of Jesus, but sadly it can often be the model we use in the church. A church that is truly healthy isn’t marked by people who behave and follow but by people who are leaders. The feast of the Ascension should call the church to remember we need to invest in developing leaders. “Leadership potential” is a myth. Each and every baptized Christian is called to be a leader, recognizing their unique calling and gifting. You were anointed at baptism as Priest, Prophet, and King!
The feast of the Ascension is a feast that should remind us what discipleship is really about. Being a disciple does not mean simply praying, receiving the sacraments, and trying to avoid sin. God wants you to have a vision for your life. Being a disciple means that you are fully alive and are using your gifts in whatever situation God puts you in. Too often we live lives as Christians that are too similar to our non-Christian friends. Our mountaintop experiences shouldn’t revolve around escaping reality. Our mountaintop experiences should be about experiencing the love of Jesus in our everyday lives and sharing that with others. We should aim to live lives we don’t need to escape from.
Being a disciple means that we experience the overwhelming love of God and in response to that love, we give him our entire lives. God has a calling for you. We discover who we are called to be, as we are in relationship with Jesus.
One of the necessities of being a disciple is following the master closely. You can’t do that from a distance and you can’t be both master and disciple. Only one can be in charge. The ironic but true: when we give God control, we are more free then we have ever been. Even though I often forget this reality, I have found only God is truly enough. Nothing else in my life ever compares to his love. God is more than enough. He loves me perfectly. He loves you perfectly. He invites you to be a disciple
We can’t forget that although the apostles ended up saints, they clearly started as sinners. In fact, throughout most of the Gospels Jesus is rebuking the disciples because they don’t understand what he is telling them or they are doing things contrary to his teaching. Why in the world is Jesus ready to leave the world and the Church in their hands? He has poured his life into them for 3 years. I am sure he is fully confident they will make some mistakes, but he is even more convinced they are ready to lead because he has invested his time and himself in them.
Jesus leaves his disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit, but charges them with the great commission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Three takeaways I would love to share with you on this feast of the Ascension:
- God has uniquely gifted and called you to be a leader.
- Find a mentor. One of the greatest ways to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ is through a discipleship / mentoring relationship. Look for someone who is living their relationship with Jesus in a way that you want to imitate.
- Be a mentor. Sharing your faith and your walk with someone newer to the faith then yourself isn’t only beneficial to you, it’s too often the missing piece of discipleship in our church today. Disciples are multipliers. That means they are always looking to replicate in others what Christ has done in them.
Be encouraged. The world needs your witness. Step up. The Church needs bold leaders.
I would love to hear your thoughts below. What lessons has the Ascension taught you? How have mentors played a part in your spiritual life?