THESE FEET WILL TRAVEL

nicaragua

It is one thing to have a lofty idea of doing something amazing…it’s another thing to plan and think and dream about it.  It is yet quite another thing when you publicly declare your plans for all to hear.  Something about that act makes it far more real.  I felt this way when I posted THIS two months ago.   It was a wild idea – some said it was crazy and it kind of was crazy – but it was also amazing!  The first tentative steps of the journey were nerve-wracking.  Would I be able to shop, could I walk on tough terrain, would people avoid me or talk to me?  Yet there is a great freedom in committing to something and seeing through it’s natural end.  Walking a month barefoot to raise funds and awareness for THE SHOE THAT GROWS was such a great and humbling experience.  I was floored by the immense generosity of our church, our city, strangers, family and folks across the nation.  All told we raised about $3,500 to purchase THE SHOE THAT GROWS!  That means about 233 kids will receive shoes!

Now comes the next part – we raised the money to buy the shoes, not so that we could send them in a box to a place and people we won’t ever meet; no!  We are going and taking the shoes with us as we go.  July 7-18, 2016 a group of Nazarenes from across Alaska will join together on an airplane and fly across the globe to Nicaragua.  There we will meet, laugh, pray, and hang out kids and their families…and as we do so we have the joy of fitting THE SHOE THAT GROWS on their feet!

In short: This guy is headed to Nicaragua next year.  There is a lot to do between now and then but I am excited to continue this journey and hope that you stick around to hear about it along the way.

I’ll post here with significant updates leading up to the trip – as well as during the trip (if I have access to the internet).  You can subscribe to this blog below and have updates emailed to you!

I will also chronicle the journey via my Instagram account – just as I did my barefoot journey.  Be sure to follow @AKBAREFOOTPASTOR through the preparations and ultimately to see the faces and feet of the kids in July!

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THESE FEET WILL TRAVEL

DAY 7: Tiny Toes and Little Voices

tinytoes

Today while hoofing it around town doing some grocery shopping for family pizza/movie night we were stopped in the produce section because of my feet.  A tiny girl – maybe 6 or 7 years old – called out, “Hey were you that guy from VBS?”   I stopped, turned, and said, “Yes.”   She then pointed to the pair of The Shoe That Grows hanging from my belt and asked what those were.  I took a few seconds and explained that there are some places in the world where kids just like her don’t have shoes at all.  They don’t have a choice – and have to walk everywhere, in all weather, at all times barefoot.  I said I was choosing to walk barefoot and carry the shoes to help people learn about the kids, and the special shoes we can buy for them.  Her eyes got super big…and right there in produce section she took her rain boots off and told her mom she wanted to go barefoot.  Her mom was a bit surprised but went with it.

About 10 minutes later in another isle we ran into her again – still barefoot!  She asked me what she was supposed to say if someone asked her about her bare feet.  I handed her one of the info cards that I carry for just such circumstances.  She was super excited because now she could show people with the card what she was doing – and where to learn more.  We parted ways for the second time.

Then, surprise, we ran into her again – still bare foot!  This time she asked me if she could have some more of those cards…so she could have more to hand out.  One was not going to be enough.  Needless to say I handed over the rest of my pocket supply of the cards to this child and her mom.

I am consistently amazed by kids.  They are seriously moved by the concept that there are kids just like them that don’t have  a choice about going bare foot.  They want to help kids just like them and so they do the most natural thing they can….they go bare foot.   People notice bare footed children – and they worry and they ask the kids (or parents) about it.  They even offer to pay for shoes for the child in question.  And that is precisely when they speak up and explain that they have a choice and choose to walk bare foot to help raise money for kids just like them who don’t have a choice.  People who are moved with compassion to act on behalf of the kids in front of them – then learn of a greater need and are invited to participate.

Lesson:  Never underestimate the power of tiny toes and little voices.  Kids are world changers.

My kiddo was inspired to do this as well.  In fact – I have used some of her own phrasing in this post (some kids have a choice, others don’t) because she nailed it!  Check out her Barefoot Challenge Video.  Share it with some kids (and adults) in your own life.


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As always – don’t forget to check out THE SHOE THAT GROWS, my ORIGINAL BLOG POST (explaining the what and why of my challenge), and the DONATION PAGE.  I am doing this to raise funds for the shoes….so go and give!  🙂

DAY 7: Tiny Toes and Little Voices

Day 5: Things I’ve Stepped In

feet-walking-barefoot

Though its the 9th of July, it’s only my 5th official day barefoot due to a family emergency earlier in the month.  (I will extend my days into August to make the full month!)   I’ve been walking around town and consequently I’ve been stepping in things – lots of things.  You honestly don’t realize all the things your shoes save your feet from until you can FEEL them.  Some of these were easier to shake off (both physically and mentally) than others.  Here is the list in no particular order:

  • water
  • unidentified blue liquid (in a store)
  • chewed gum
  • dog poop
  • fish guts (walking on the docks)
  • someone else’s used band-aid (stuck to my foot)
  • mud
  • oil
  • grease
  • unidentified liquid on concrete

I have taken for granted the protection my shoes have afforded me from the gross, wet, mystery liquids of life.  I have a new appreciation.

As always – don’t forget to check out THE SHOE THAT GROWS, my ORIGINAL BLOG POST (explaining the what and why of my challenge), and the DONATION PAGE.  I am doing this to raise funds for the shoes….so go and give!  🙂

Day 5: Things I’ve Stepped In

Day 1: Observations

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Today was the first day of #akbarefootpastor.  I have to say I was super excited and just a bit nervous.  I wasn’t sure how stores would react – would I be kicked out?  I wasn’t sure if strangers would stare or if small children would point and ask.  Either way I am in it for the month.  So I put my socks and shoes away, grabbed my pair of SHOES THAT GROW and went about my day.

I learned A LOT today.  I was aware of the ground for the first time in forever.  Here are some of my observations:

  • Concrete is warmer than I thought.  Smoother too.
  • Painted parking lines feel like cotton compared to concrete.
  • The ground changes temperature in the shade, in buildings, even across a room.  I never knew.
  • You can get a rock stuck in your foot just like you can get one stuck in your shoe.
  • When you step on something sharp it actually causes you to yelp out loud.

I also had some great conversations with complete strangers.  The checker at the store was super interested in the SHOES THAT GROW.  I handed out a few info cards along the way.  No one called the cops while I was shopping.  Overall this day was a great first day!  I’m going to bed super excited about this month – and a lot less nervous.

I will add one note however – due to a family emergency I am delaying my shoelessness until the 9th of July.  I will extend July into August to make a full month.  I”m fully committed!  Thanks in advance for your understanding this coming week.

As always – don’t forget to check out THE SHOE THAT GROWS, my ORIGINAL BLOG POST (explaining the what and why of my challenge), and the DONATION PAGE.  I am doing this to raise funds for the shoes….so go and give!  🙂

Day 1: Observations

GOING BAREFOOT

barefootpastor

I am going barefoot in July – and I want you to help me.

Just about a year ago, while at a gathering for Nazarene Pastors in Alaska, I heard about an organization called Because International.   This group of folks is dedicated to practical compassion – meaning they work to meet known needs in developing countries through creative thinking and innovation.   One such need was shoes for kids.  It’s something I’d never thought much about before.  I’ve never lacked shoes – and neither has my daughter: when her feet grow I just buy another pair of shoes. Yet not everyone has that luxury.   Shoes are a luxury – and I didn’t even think of that.

Because International learned that kids in other countries don’t have access to shoes – and if they do happen to have a pair, when they grow out of them they can’t just go buy another pair.  So the majority of children go barefoot – in the dirty streets, over rocks and in fields, streams and the toliet.  It’s not by choice.   As these kids go barefoot they are exposed to soil-transmitted parasites and diseases that can cause infection, loss of limbs or even death: simply for lack of shoes.

After seeing the need in developing countries firsthand in 2007 – the folks at Because International developed the SHOE THAT GROWS 5 sizes and will last 5 years!   I have a pair of these shoes on my desk – they are incredibly well made.    Check out these two videos to hear about it from the folks who made it – and then read about how you can help!

It’s been said that you can’t truly understand someone unless you walk a mile in their shoes.   In this case – perhaps we can’t understand someone unless we walk a mile barefoot.   So that is what I intend to do.   For the month of July I will forgo shoes and live life barefoot in an effort raise awareness and funds for the SHOE THAT GROWS.   I will carry my pair of SHOES THAT GROW with me wherever I go, along with some information cards for those who are curious, or who would like to donate.  All the funds collected will be sent with the funds raised at other Nazarene churches in Alaska to Because International so more kids can have shoes!

Want to get involved?  Here are simple ways you can help get shoes to kids that need them:

  • Sponsor me as I walk barefoot in July.  $1 a day or $31 for the month is the equivalent of two pairs of shoes!
  • A simple cash donation of any amount.
  • Pray for Because International.
  • Pray for the kids who need shoes.
  • Go through your closet and donate clothing and shoes that are good condition to your local women’s shelter, or homeless shelter.  Make a difference in your community!
  • Share this blog to spread the word!

Help your kids get involved too!  Set out a pair of shoes on the kitchen table, or somewhere you will see every day.  Collect spare change in the shoes all month and then count it up at the end of the month and donate it via the link below.  Encourage your kids to do some extra chores, mow the neighbors lawn, and find the lost coins under the couch!

We can make a difference together!

EMAIL me with questions!    I’d love to tell you more about this project!

          Instagram    Be sure to follow on Instagram!give

GOING BAREFOOT

Become Like Children

become like children

I think Jesus was trying to teach us something really significant when He gathered the crowd together and said to them, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

I am constantly amazed by kids, and as a former children’s pastor, and current pastor, I have seen quite a few kids in my day.  Kids have this great and innate ability to call it just like they see it and as a pastor that is incredibly refreshing.  Teaching a room of kids is far more intimidating than teaching adults.  Why?  Across the church (in my own experiences) I have been asked more complex, hard to answer, thought provoking, laugh inducing, heart wrenching, honest questions from children then I ever have from adults. Check out these real questions I’ve been asked.

“What if I pray, but can’t hear God’s voice?”
“Can I have more communion? I like it.”
“Why doesn’t God stop the bad people from  hurting me?”
“Can God come visit me?”
“If Jesus was a real kid…did He pick His nose too?”
“If God is everywhere…did He watch me in my school play ?”
“My parents are getting divorced will God ever do that with me?”

Perhaps this was one of the qualities of children that Jesus was trying to impress upon the crowd that day.  If so, we as adults, should take note.  We should learn transparency, urgency, humor and the art of asking questions.

Children are also capable owning their faith and it’s implication in their lives.  When a child “confesses with their mouth, and believes with their heart that Jesus is Lord” they are saved – and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell with them, and within them. (Romans 10:8-10) It should be said clearly and loudly that children get the SAME Holy Spirit that adults do.  Just because a child is 6, does not mean they only get a fraction of the Living True God – thats ridiculous.

Yet often we treat children as if they are lesser than us; incapable of ‘real’ ministry and unable to fully participate in the body of Christ.  We drag them along until they are 18 and ‘adult’ and suddenly expect them to have skills, passions and maturity ready to go.  Yet the whole time they could have matured in those areas we told them, “you’re too young” or “when you are older” or “that’s just for adults.”  Kids want to participate, they want to engage, to have ownership – and they are capable of it!

I see no reference in Scripture that indicates kids can’t – but I do see plenty that indicates they can.   Check out these biblical examples.

A young girl taken captive demonstrates immense grace toward her captor. (2 Kings 5)
God spoke to a young boy when the adults failed to listen. (1 Samuel 3)
It was a young boy who stood his ground against the giant Goliath. (1 Samuel 17)
A young girl was willing to obey God no matter the cost. (Luke 1:26-56)
A young boy with a sack lunch was ready to help feed people. (John 6:1-15)
A 8 year old boy became king to lead God’s people, and did right before God. (2 Kings 22)

What child do you have in your life that you can encourage to do great things for God? What is Jesus trying to teach you about your own faith through the kids around you?

Want to hear more about kids and God, and what it means for you as an adult? Listen to this recent message from KetchikanNaz:  All God’s Children.

Become Like Children

4 Things Sermon Prep Should Always Include

sermonprep

Every pastor develops their own style for writing a sermon: some prefer isolation in a quiet environment; others enjoy group dynamics and discussion. Some outline and some manuscript, others simply read, study, and get up with just the Bible in hand. Whatever your style is, here are 4 things that your prep should always include:

1. It should be founded in Scripture
There are many great books available, which contain great truths found in scripture–some of them by Christian authors – but they are not the inspired Word of God. There are many great blogs and articles available online for pastors to read and enjoy and even learn from, but they are not the inspired Word of God. There are many movies with clips that express deep emotions that pull at our hearts and move us to tears, but they are not the inspired Word of God.

When I come to prepare a sermon, I must always start with the primary source: The Holy Bible. There is only one book penned under the authority of God by eyewitnesses and those who gave their lives for Christ. There is only one book preserved down through the generations by the hand of God and nearly identical in every way now to its original in the days of old. This is where life comes from – the Word of God – and I must caution myself to never to build a sermon from anything else.

2. It should begin with prayer
Prayer is simply talking with God. He is the Head of the Church, so before I go and get fancy ideas about the flock that He has entrusted to me, I should sit down and spend some time talking to Him. God alone knows the needs of those in the church; He knows them better than I ever could. He alone is the only one who can speak life, hope, and redemption into the hearts and souls of those who come on Sunday (or Weds, or whenever you all meet). He also knows me better than I do, and is the only one who can reach into my heart and soften it.

That said, there are two questions that I ask God before I begin a sermon: “‘What do you want to teach me from this passage, Lord?” and “How do you want me to teach from this passage, Lord?” Both of these questions correctly place me under God’s authority. The times that I have failed to begin with prayer are the times that my heart has been hard towards His leadership and His voice, because of that I have struggled. If I cannot listen and obey, how can I expect to lead my flock to listen and obey?

3. It should involve repentance
Every sermon needs to contain the Gospel and a call to respond; otherwise, it is not a sermon but a nice talk. I want those who hear the Word to receive the Word, repent of their sin, and walk in the newness of life with Christ as their Lord. I want those who are in Christ to hear the Word and be convicted of their sin as well, remembering their need of and love for their Savior, Jesus. As a pastor, I am not above this. If the messages I preach contain the Gospel (they should!) and a call to respond – have I evaluated my heart in light of that call? Is there sin in my life that the passage reveals to me? Do I need to repent and respond to Christ’s love and mercy and holiness? Yes, and I need to do it before Sunday morning. I must let God show me the log in my eye and respond accordingly.

4. It should end with worship
I am compelled to worship the Lord as I write my sermon. I worship Him for providing a savior, for providing a way out from temptation, for providing a body of believers to keep me accountable and encourage me, for the Word of Life, for the Great Commission that I can play a part in, for a community in which to serve, and for the breath and life I have. No one in scripture who encountered the Lord responded in any way except worship. If I have indeed sat down with the Word of God, spoken directly to the Lord, and allowed Him to work in my heart, then worship is the only right response. Then and only then am I prepared to write the sermon, for I have allowed God to teach me first so that I, in turn, may teach others.

4 Things Sermon Prep Should Always Include