Writings and thoughts of Heath D. Sizick

Welcome to Heath's Blog

Thank you for checking out my blog. The intent of me starting a blog was to centralize my writings - devotionals, articles, poetry, thoughts, etc. I pray something I say will be an encouragement to you and your faith.

Latest

Stealing Moments: Introducing the Big 3

Outside of my 89 year old gramma, it seems everyone I talk to is either tired, stressed, or busy. In most cases it is all three. Ask someone how they are doing and you could nearly bet your dog that the answer will be one of, what I call, the Big 3 – busy, stressed, and/or tired. If they are not, they just well may receive looks of indifference. Granted, the jobs and activities that we and our families are involved in as followers of Christ are not in themselves evil, but the trend or pace we are on is concerning.

America is the land of the free, but somehow along the way, we have become the land of the busy-body. Somewhere along the way we have missed the warning signs of this incredible pace and instead have held it up in honor. The soccer-mom mentality is admired. You are busy and tired and stressed? Wow, you are really living life! There has become a heavy dependance on drive thru’s to feed us, caffeine to sustain us, and coaches to raise our children. Certainly we have those weeks and days that a Hot-N-Ready may be in order. Further, evening church, youth sports, serving on a community board, etc. are good things. I am not saying Eating a Whopper or drinking a Starbuck’s caramel frap will send you to hell. However, it is the composition of all these activities and the “conforming to the patterns of this world” that put us in a dangerous and precarious position that opens us up to the subtle but effective attack of the enemy. The exception has become the norm.

I am convinced if Paul was writing a letter to the American church he would be addressing the Big 3 of busyness, stress, and tiredness. In fact, I am not sure most of us know how to rest and play in a way that honors God. I am also not sure most of us don’t know how to stop this rapid pace and its accompanying avalanche of stress, fatigue, and busyness. Lastly, I am not sure we really see the grave problem with it?

As a follower of Jesus Christ I find all of this quite disturbing. As a minister to adolescents the last 18 years I find this alarming. I’m not sure we even know how to really play and rest in a way that brings glory to God. There was a time I use to think only adults were too busy, but sadly I’ve come to realize that the Big 3 is out to kill everyone, not just adults. And by kill, I mean destroy us. And by destroy us, I mean steal us. I believe there is someone behind the Big 3 and he doesn’t live at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW in Washington D.C. Jesus warns us about him and calls him a thief who only comes to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10). He is the enemy of God. His name is Satan.

His attack is subtle but intentional, strategic, and exacting. As the brain behind the Big 3, he has quietly and deceptively worked into the fiber of our lives. He doesn’t show up at our door wearing horns and holding a pitch fork. Therefore, we have fallen blind to his attack. Could we fathom the thought of wickedness and evil being clothed in our fast-paced life? Or does this idea seem absurd and ludicrous. Could the thief be grinning as we find ourselves too busy to sit down and read our bibles? Or too tired to get on our knees to pray. Or too stressed to find time during our day to commune with God – the very One who can alleviate our stress and calm the storms of busyness in our lives. What follows next? A diminishing intimacy with the One who loves us the most. The thief slowly and methodically destroys our relationship with God. We find ourselves with no time for Him nor ministry. And before we know it, our faith is stolen right beneath our nose. And we seem perfectly intent with it!

All this has hit hard in my own life as of late. I am proud to say no one has ever called me a workaholic. I manage my time well and teach time management. I have rules in place for how many evening per week I am out. I wake up most morning before dawn and spend time with Jesus. Yet, as my children have grown older and the responsibilities of my job increased I found myself face to face more frequently with the Big 3. I found myself fighting hard to not to be stressed, tired, and busy. I found myself losing this fight more than winning. What was I losing? Intimacy! Intimacy with Christ Jesus. Intimacy with my wife. Intimacy with my children. And even intimacy with my dog. The most important things in my life are these relationships and losing these, frankly, is unacceptable. My fight or flight instincts kicked in, so I fought. I am still fighting.

How do we fight against the Big 3? Paul tells us that our “struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:12).” In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul warns us about not allowing Satan to outwit us. He victoriously pronounces that “we are not unaware of his schemes.” Our greatest weapon is not energy drinks, fast food, sleeping aids, or smartphones, but rather in Jesus. Need rest? Jesus. Need peace? Jesus. Need perspective? Jesus. Need order? Jesus. You name it – Jesus. It is through Jesus that we can punch back at the Big 3 and our foe behind them.

The following blogs I will look at two practical ways to counter the Big 3 – a daily non-negotiable time with Jesus and in stealing moments with Jesus throughout our day. They are simple, easy, and effective. They will set us up to live the abundant life God has called us to live despite living in such an increasingly fast and demanding culture that seems unwilling to relent.
I am still deep in the battle, but I am finding these two practicals are winning back my pace, my focus, and most importantly, my intimacy with Jesus, my wife and my children.

Practical Leadership: Contact Work

Contact work is, as you likely have heard many times, the very core of Young Life. Without contact work, one could argue if it is even Young Life that you are doing. Now certainly one can do contact work and not Young Life, but I dare say one cannot do Young Life without contact work.

In Young Life, contact work was the means in which our mission finds its origins. Jim Rayburn, our founder, via trial and error, with a love for teenagers, was compelled to introduce them to Jesus Christ and to help them follow him. He accomplished this by going into their world and earning the right to be heard. The beauty of Jim’s approach was how closely his methods paralleled our Lord’s.

The apostle John in the first chapter of his gospel account writes that “The true light (Jesus) that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” I love that – Jesus was coming! He was coming with light to a dark and fallen world and he was coming to all mankind. At Christmas we celebrate his coming – the incarnation. We rejoice at his coming because without Jesus becoming flesh and making his dwelling among us (John 1:14) we would still be helpless sheep trying to fix an unfixable sin problem. In Jesus coming to earth for us, we see God ‘s with the master plan for reconciling us to Him. This flawless work was rooted in contact – Creator tangibly contacting His created!

Yet there is more. Jesus not only entered our world in his birth but his public ministry starts with him doing what we in Young a Life now call contact work. Jesus was never idle and although the crowds flocked to him, he is found often going to them. He was constantly found walking and encountering people – divine appointment after divine appointment. He found Peter and Andrew, James and John, Levi (Matthew), Nathanael (Bartholomew), and from all indication every other apostle he chose. Bartimaeus, Zachaeus, and people who the Scripture give no name like the man born blind, and the man who was demon possessed were all participants and recipients of Jesus coming to them!

That is a lot of biblical background but far from exhaustive when making an argument that Young Life and contact work is simply just us trying to do what Jesus did. And that my friends is one reason why I believe the Lord has blessed the mission of Young Life for 75 years! So what are the practicals, the hints, the things that work when it comes to doing contact work?

That is a great question. There are other great questions regarding this subject. What do I do when I go into a school? How do I start a conversation? What if they ignore me? What if the kid asks me what I am doing there or what is Young Life? How do I ask a kid to hang out with me? Where do I stand at a football game? You get the idea and likely asked one if not all of those questions. I know I did! Although those are great questions, I don’t think those are the right questions to ask when preparing to do contact work. And although this is intended to be a practical blog on contact work, I believe effective contact work starts way before you ever step foot into the world of adolescents.

I believe the most effective leaders at contact work are not those who spend the most time with kids, but those who spend the most time with the Lord. It’s those who are working out their salvation daily in their quiet times. It’s those who are being still before God in order to hear from Him. It’s those who are trying to love the One who loves them the most. It’s those who read Scripture, pray, meditate, and silent in order to know Christ and the power of his resurrection. So as the school year starts and football games are right around the corner, a better question than How do I talk to kids? would be this: Are you spending intimate time with Jesus? Not just a quick devotional here and a quick prayer there, but really pursuing the One who pursues you!

When this is done then contact work, although still scary, becomes divine appointments. When you are walking faithfully with God you are Spirit-led. When you are Spirit-led you will know what hallway or lunch table to go, which kid to talk to, what you are to say, and so on. The complexity and fear of contact work becomes simple when first let Jesus do contact work with you!

When are living full-out for Jesus, His love will compel us to go to kids because it is His very nature, as mentioned earlier, to go. He will give us compassion for kids. Our hearts will hurt for them and we will want to make a difference in their lives. We will pursue hard after them. Not because Club and Camp are super fun. Not because our Area Director tells us we have to go to the school twice a week. Not because kids love us (even though they do and will). We pursue hard after kids because we spend time with Jesus; when we spend time with Jesus we look more like Jesus; when we look more like Jesus we act more like Jesus; when we act more like Jesus we become incarnational and we go like Jesus did; and when we go like Jesus did we are not only being obedient and like Him, but we live out the great commission and experience life to the full as He said we will.

Contact work – Let’s go!

That…

That Your mercies are new every morning – that’s just dumb!
But don’t get me wrong on the crude usage of my tongue.
Dumb not as folly, even though my foolery is much.
I mean dumb as incredible, amazing, immeasurable and such.

That forgiveness is available immediately, no wait.
That Your grace covers me when I am far from great.
That Your blood said to Death, “You’re done!”
And that it said to Sin, “I’m the only begotten Son.”

That Your last breathe made reconciliation complete.
That for all mankind, that meant me!
That Justice and mercy are found on a cross.
That no longer Satan, but now Jesus is my boss.

That the grave had no hold on God’s son.
That the path of life was set for me to run.
That the tomb is truly unbelievable, not just a shrine.
That it makes Jesus, God – both human and divine.

That after the resurrection he was still flesh and bone.
That it culminated with him ascending back to His throne.
That because Jesus came and accomplished this feat,
It meant the Deceiver and his cronies are beat!

That the victory is already won.
That there will be no need for the sun.
That God’s glory will be the only necessary light.
That I will finally be made right.

That there will be a new heaven, a new earth.
That I will dine with all who experienced the new birth.
That life forever with God is just dumb!
All because Jesus invited me to “come!”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 475 other followers