You Matter!

I have a confession – I am a grown man that loves hugs. I love them from my wife, my kids, my parents, my friends, or anyone else that wants to hug me. I love the comfort and the warmth a hug delivers. I love everything that is packed into that embrace. I believe that when someone hugs me, we are claiming a special closeness. God made me this way and I don’t plan on changing.

Huggers like me have struggled during our COVID social distancing world. For instance, I remember finally getting to see my daughter Solveig Brunkow after months of separation and we still couldn’t do our usual hugging routine. This routine has been going on for most of her life and it goes like this. We wrap our arms around each other, she kisses my nose and I kiss her forehead. It’s our thing and it is a special part of our relationship. She will always be my little girl no matter how many candles are on her birthday cake.

You might not be a hugger like me and that is fine, but I hope you all can relate to how good it is to be loved. God made you to love and to be loved. When we appreciate this, we can relate to the heart of God. He is a God of relationship. He built us this way!

All through life we find ourselves in various communities. There are the ones in which we grew up. Our jobs hold often become a community of sorts or in my case, the staff at Old Chicago restaurant in Eden Prairie, MN that I would share my sermon with every Saturday afternoon. The thing about each of these communities is that we feel connected and that the others in the community are interested in us.

This is something that the Church can do better than anyone else. After all, we are a people that are about love, truth, and a clear understanding that we are all desperately in need of grace. This is the backdrop of how the Church goes through life together. We care for each other, hear each other’s stories, and provide smiles [maybe even hugs] as you celebrate God’s wonderful gift of one another!

In Genesis 2:18 God declares, “It is not good for man to be alone.” We rightly apply this to marriage, but we can miss the greater truth if we only use this verse in that context. Right from the beginning God has “hard-wired” us to be in relationships. We need God and we need each other. He wants us to know it and He wants us to show it. How about today you let a few people know that they matter to you. If you enter someone’s world to bless them, then you are walking a path that reflects the magnificent path Jesus walked to deliver God’s grace and love to us!

In the context of a healthy and vibrant congregation, this community “feel” is natural. People care for one another and feel cared for because God tells us that all people have immense value. There is also a deep and active desire to bring others into the community. There is a confidence that a new community member is a good thing and not something to fear. So, they reach out and reach into the lives of their neighbors – kinda like Jesus!

The community of Jesus Christ’s followers can be a transformational force as we live together where God has placed us following the example of the church in Acts 2:42-47. With this as our model, may our CLB churches be places filled with truth, prayer, fellowship, generosity, gladness, and praise. Verse 47 tells us that as they lived this way together, they all also “gained favor with all people.” Let’s come together and pray that God would make this happen in our churches today.

I may not ever meet you, but I would like to, and if we do meet feel free to give me a hug. I may not know your name, your personal story, or your favorite foods, but I truly would like to. But there is one thing I do know about you – YOU MATTER! You are of immense value simply because God made you. It isn’t based on your income, your position, or your success. It just is the truth. You are incredibly significant in God’s eyes and so is the next person you see. How about you let them know? Give them the magnificent gift of communicating “I’m glad you are here with me.”

Together,

Nick Mundis – Director of North American Mission

Parenting Generation Screen

Parents, as you read Jonathan McKee’s newest book, “Parenting Generation Screen,” you might be inclined to cancel your kids’ cell phone service, but be encouraged to keep reading it for many great practical insights into helping your teens manage the responsibility of technology.

In it, you will hear tons of gospel-based relationship building tips for parents. And while there are many ideas for parents, there are just as many for students and for youth workers. In addition, not only do I believe that this book will help you with this important topic, but I also believe that it will help you to have a stronger relationship with your student(s).

As well, in this book you will hear some significant research which will challenge your understanding on the impact of devices. And while the book aims to strengthen relationships, it does not abandon setting boundaries with our kids. As well, while the book poses some scary scenarios, the end message is not of “fear” but as I said before, one of gospel-based relationship building help for parents.

Briefly, I want to name a few highlights and insights:

Jonathan will be our featured guest at next summer’s youth workers continuing education. To RSVP for this, send Mark an email at mjohannesen@clba.org and include your name and an address to mail it to. To view our schedule and to learn about our speaker, go to www.clba.org/youth-worker-training-at-the-2022-biennial-convention/

In the coming months we look forward to a great give away related to this new tool.

Mark Johannesen - Youth Ministry Coordinator