The floodgates of Heaven

 

Last year about this time our wonderful and dedicated Children’s leader came to me and said that it was time for them to step down. I gave my blessings and thanked them for years and years of service! They had definitely ‘served their time!’ So I began a quest to either find a new leader or decide on what we would do for the next school year (this current year). They said they would continue serving throughout that year. I have to admit that the last thing I wanted to do was lead Children’s Ministry myself. I served in a youth internship while in college. People will often ask, “what did you learn in your internship?” And my quick, almost scripted, response is, “I learned I did not want to be a youth pastor!” With that said I had been there and done that. I did not want to lead children’s ministry either.

It took me some time of praying, consulting with others, and reflection to decide on what to do. I considered many options. Maybe we could find a college intern to lead kids. Maybe God would provide a wonderful volunteer and I would not have to worry about it. Maybe we didn’t do a Wednesday night program at all. Honestly, the last option seemed the most appealing at the time. It wasn’t until this past June that I committed to having a Children’s Ministry on Wednesday night even if I led it myself.

So I went all in. I began planning curriculum, finding volunteers, creating schedules, sending out letters. But I knew the finances would be an issue. It was around that same time I preached on tithing and used Malachi 3:10 which says “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” I began to ask people in our church to help provide snacks and other craft items we might need throughout the year.

The response was amazing! We had so many snacks to provide to the kids. We had several families give cash donations so we could purchase what we needed. But then something amazing happen. I had two families commit to giving a larger cash donation each. Combined the donations totaled $1,240! I was ecstatic! God is amazing. I knew we were doing the right thing. So I really went all in. I stepped out of my comfort zone and decided to lead the ‘big’ time together. It included dancing, speaking, and being goofy. Surprisingly, this is hard for me to do in front of kids. I can do it in front of adults but it is hard for me to do it in front of the young ones. Here we are last night with our nun chuck craft:

 

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But even again, God opened the floodgates. A family from our church committed to a very large donation to our Children’s Ministry. Let me just say it will cover our budget for 15 years given we need to make no large purchases for the kids! I stood in amazement.

So I say all that to say this…God will open the floodgates and will literally blow you away if you allow yourself to be faithful. I knew He wanted us to have kids ministry on Wednesday. We serve about 35 kids from the neighborhood and the majority of them are ‘not regular Sunday attenders.’ So Wednesday night is all they get. We (our church) took a step of faith and committed to having JAM. My Board of Elders encouraged me and pushed a bit to make it happen. They committed and they offered their time to volunteer. We have literally experienced the ‘more than enough you won’t have room to store it’ promise of God. HE is Good!

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Timehop, Memories, and the Past

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I have always been a fan of apps like Timehop and Memories on Facebook. I often find myself reminiscing on old photos, friends, and moments in my life that have brought great joy. For instance, not long ago I was reminded of when our now 9 year old son got his first ‘real’ bike. He was only three at the time! Then that brought back memories of our time in Colorado as the pictures were taking out in front of our first church and the parsonage. One day my kids will look at those same pictures and laugh at the silly clothes and bike helmets! One of the neat features of Timehop is that it will share with you pictures saved to your Google account. It will also show old text message conversations. For some that could be scary! I enjoy sending my bride a text occasionally with a picture attached and simply say ‘remember this?’. It always brings a smile to our life. Here is that picture: 
 
Along with all the good memories these apps and features can remind you of things of the past that were not so great either. For instance, I was reminded of a simple facebook status I had put up seven years ago and one of my comments on there I was not that proud of. I think at the time I was frustrated, maybe trying to be funny, but either way it was probably inappropriate at the time. Admittedly that caused a little bit of anxiety to rise up within me. I was instantly reminded of what I had done before. Before I had another child, before I was pastoring, before I was a college graduate, but mostly before I was really growing in my faith. For a moment I found myself wishing I could erase that memory. I thought, how can I get rid of this?
 

But then I was instantly reminded that the past is no more. While some evidence of it may exist out there somewhere and in this case, cyberspace, it really isn’t who I am now. See I think too often Satan works the same as Timehop or Memories. Yes, I said it! But really, doesn’t he do the same thing? Doesn’t he remind you that Christmas of last year was not enjoyable because your family got in an argument? Or maybe last summer your several year romance broke it off when you thought they were proposing? Or maybe a few years ago around this same date you did something you wish you wouldn’t have?

The total truth of this is that we cannot change the past. I cannot change what comes back to haunt me. But what I can do is rest in the presence of the Lord! I am reminded of the song by MercyMe, Flawless. It says “No matter the bumps, No matter the bruises, No matter the scars, Still the truth is the cross has made you flawless! No matter the hurt, Or how deep the wound is, No matter the pain, Still the truth is the cross has made you flawless!” There is nothing in your past that is too great for the cross to make right. The reminders may still be present. But in the eyes of the creator you are flawless! Closing, I leave with you my prayers for redemption as well as Isaiah 43:18-19:
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To the New Year!

 

As it is the last day of the year I of course want to write about this past year and this new year to come. I have always liked to reflect back on the year and think about the highs and lows of life. Then I like to give God thanks for both but try to focus on how I can keep the highs in the next year and try to avoid the lows. Due to personal reasons I am not going to go into details of either as they are my memories and some I only share with my wife. But I thank our Father in Heaven that He knows them all and despite the situations He was there with me. Some He carried me through and some we celebrated together at the end of the journey!
 
But I want to share just a bit about the year, some of the more public things! First I am finishing my first full year as pastor at the church. It has been exciting and encouraging. I cannot think of a single situation this year that was worrisome or extremely burdensome. I can though think of many situations when I saw God at work among HIS congregations and servants. We had our first volunteer appreciation dinner. I learned through that event that you should start cooking earlier than you plan. Food takes longer when preparing in mass quantities than it does at home preparing for 6. We had our summer movies on the lawn. I had an excellent time at that! I learned through this that we must trust God when He is leading us. We (the church) took a chance on this event. We invested time wise and financially. But I was overwhelmed with joy when someone (not even a church member) made a very generous donation and covered over half of the operating cost and through a few other times we were almost able to completely offset the cost of this event! We started doing communion every month. This has been life changing and exciting. We hired a worship pastor. Both he and his fiance have been such an encouragement and thrill to have in our church. We started official middle school programming on Wednesday nights. We adopted a new set of Bylaws! I could go on and on but you get the idea. And the best part of all this is that our Church Board has been nothing but supportive of it all! Also, the congregation has stood behind them as well!
 
I give thanks to God for all that He has done in 2015! I cannot wait to see what is done through HIS servants in 2016. I for the first time am coming up with a verse and a word for the year. One I can focus and meditate on daily. Something that when the times are low will lift me and when the moments of life are high will propel me. Through conversation yesterday with a good friend we discussed abundance. And I knew right then that was the word God was giving me. 2015 was exhilarating but 2016 there will be an abundance! A bumper crop if you will. So I began my research. I looked for verses that contained the word abundance. I went to different translations. I came across Psalms 65:11 and it says: “You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.” So this year I believe God wants to do something in my life and in your life! Will you make yourself available to Him? If I can do anything for you this year, if I can pray for you or with you, maybe even just be a friend and visit…please don’t hesitate to let me know! My email is mcbroom_clint@hotmail.com! Here’s to 2016!
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Christmas Thoughts

This past Sunday marked the first Sunday of Advent. It is truly the beginning of the Christmas Holiday for the church. The days following Thanksgiving typically represents the start of the Christmas season. Thinking back through my childhood I have fond memories of Christmas. I have memories of wonderful family events and getting our Christmas tree. Fun times at my grandparents as we were out of school and my parents worked. Getting up early in the morning to see if it was snowing or maybe how much it snowed. But none can replace the memories I have of constantly being reminded of what the Christmas Season was all about. The birth of our Savior! What a wonderful season to celebrate.

We have some traditions in our home now with our boys that are more secular. We do the Christmas tree thing the day after Thanksgiving. Ernie the Elf (Elf on the Shelf) visits our home for the month of December. We do letters to Santa that Ernie magically takes to them. We do stockings that fill with candy, cookies, carrots and milk that disappear, and plenty of warm and fuzzy Christmas movies (thanks to my beautiful wife!). I hope though that none of those traditions or activities over shadow what we are truly celebrating this season. It’s just like our children’s birthdays. We want to celebrate them. But in the process we may have a cake, presents, decorations, and a party. But we still celebrate them.

I hope that everyone that takes a moment to read this short post will also reflect on the activities that are in their life and home right now. Are any of them keeping you from focusing on Jesus this season? Are any of them stealing your joy that this season should bring? Are any of them keeping you from truly relaxing in the blessing of the birth of our Savior knowing that He has overcome?

If they are, don’t panic! There is enough stuff to panic over. Instead take a few moments, process, and breathe. Ask for the Lord’s help this season in keeping Him the focus. You will be blessed that you did. If you need help here is a short prayer that I will share with you:

“Our most gracious Savior hear our prayers. Please be in present in our lives this season as we prepare for busyness, excitement, and fun. Help us to keep our thoughts and eyes on You. May we experience the goodness of your love and blessings. Come upon us oh Lord and hear our prayers. In Your name, Amen.”
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