Ray Hausler

Hope For Every New Day

April 28, 2015
by Ray Hausler
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When the Crowds are Harassed and Helpless

Massachusetts Militia Passing Through Baltimore (Baltimore Riot of 1861) engraving of F.F. Walker (1861)

Massachusetts Militia Passing Through Baltimore (Baltimore Riot of 1861) engraving of F.F. Walker (1861)

“Stop doing that bad thing you are doing!”

I’m guilty of saying that as much as the next guy. I see people rioting and think, “They should just stop rioting.” I see people headed toward divorce and think, “They should just stay married.” I see people doing drugs and think, “They should just stop doing drugs.” I see people having sex with partner after partner after partner and think, “They should just stop having sex.”

I see people acting like self-righteous jerks and think, “They should stop being self-righteous jerks.” As if that is something I’ve stopped doing myself. Even this act of writing this blog can be seen as being guilty of doing just that.

It is true though.

People should stop doing bad things. Bad things are not good for them. Bad things are not good for society. Bad things are not good for my country (and the rest of the world too).

So they should stop.

But I am not sure that standing on the street corner and yelling “Stop what you are doing” helps.

I’m even more sure that sitting at our computers and mobile devices and yelling “STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING” in all caps does not help either.

So then, if we agree that bad things need to stop happening, and that telling people to just stop doesn’t get them to just stop, then what should we do?

The gospel writer Matthew, in his recording of the good news that Jesus is to the world, told this story:

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”–Matthew 9:35-38

As Jesus brought the good news that the Kingdom of God was near (not far), he healed people of every disease and sickness.

And when he saw the people, when he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them.

Jesus saw that people were harassed and helpless. And he had compassion on them.

Jesus saw that people were like sheep without a shepherd. And he had compassion on them.

So Jesus acted. Jesus healed. Jesus communicated that God’s kingdom was near them, for them, with them.

He became a shepherd, leading them through the valley of death, guiding them to still waters, bringing hope in hopeless situations.

And he says to his disciples, “We need more workers.”

Workers who will, like Jesus see the crowds and have compassion on them. Jesus needs workers who will understand the helplessness that comes with being harassed and instead of yelling “Stop!” at them, will help bring healing.

I have young friends who are desperately trying to escape cycles of meth addiction in their families. It’s all they know. And often, they say bad words. Often they react violently to confrontation. Often, they seek love through sexual expression.

They don’t need a “stop doing bad things message.” They need a you belong to the Kingdom of God message. They need a helpful hand. They need someone who will stand for them when they are harassed. They need people who will demonstrate sacrificial love to them. They need people who will be patient, kind, gentle, keeping no record of wrong. They need love.

I remember writing a letter to a family member basically telling him to stop being divorced. That he was sinning. But it wasn’t helpful. Because he needed compassion. He needed someone to understand his hurt. He needed love. But I offered a sermon instead.

I was wrong.

I want to be a harvest worker like Jesus. I want to offer compassion to the harassed and helpless. I want to be a shepherd to those in need of leadership.

 

But it may cost me everything.

 

And “everything” is harder than preaching “stop doing bad things”.

 

April 24, 2015
by Ray Hausler
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Daddy, I Need You To Cheer Me On

“Daddy, when you cheer me on, I have more confidence.”CheerMeOn

She’s learning to ride her scooter. Her big goal is to ride her bike on two wheels just like her brother recently started doing.

So, she’s working on her balance. And she’s working on her confidence. She is five and learning to ride her bike is a big step. In her growing, expanding world, the two wheeled bike is big and scary. It is something she’s never experienced before.

So she needs me on the sideline. She needs to know I believe in her. She needs to hear that I am present and ready just in case she falls.

And so I cheer.

And she reminds me that she needs my cheers.

I love that about her. I love her boldness. I love that she knows that I want to help her succeed.

So she asks. Actually, she demands that I cheer her on. She knows what she needs. She knows what she wants.

It reminds me of an interaction Jesus had with two blind men (Matthew 20:29-34).

A large crowd was following Jesus and these two guys on the side of the road were shouting “Lord, Son of David, Have mercy on us!”. And the crowds were irritated with them, shushing them, trying to get them to be quiet. And yet they boldly called louder for Jesus’ attention.

I love Jesus’ response.

“What do you want me to do for you?”

And they tell him.

“We want our sight.”

They know what they want. They know who Jesus is. They know what he can do for them.

So they ask. Actually, they demand. Their statement is bold.

And Jesus responds. Because that is what Jesus does.

“Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.”–Matthew 20:34

My daughter knows what she needs from me. So she tells me. And I cheer. With love and compassion. That’s what fathers do.

May we approach Jesus in the same way.

We know what we need from him. So we tell him. And he responds. With love and compassion. That’s what Jesus does.

“What do you want me to do for you?”–Jesus

 

April 21, 2015
by Ray Hausler
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I Say Dumb Things

eph429I say dumb things.

Sometimes I mean them. Sometimes I am joking… kind of. And sometimes I don’t realize how dumb they are.

And often, when I say dumb things, my words hurt people. I can’t imagine the damage my words have done over the years.

You know that lie we learned to tell when we were kids: Sticks and stones… Yeah that one. Words hurt.

I’ve been hurt by them. You’ve been hurt by them.

I’ve hurt with them.You’ve hurt with them.

But the thing is, dumb things are usually said in a moment of weakness. Dumb things are said to break the ice. Dumb things are said without thinking. And almost all of us have walked away from saying something dumb, wishing we could have those words back.

We want our friend, father, mother, brother, sister, even our enemies to know that we know the power of our words, and that we regret what we said over them. In this moment, If you are reading this and I have said something dumb to you–and it hurt–I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I was a jerk. I was insecure. In that moment I spoke words over you that dehumanized you. I said something that took away your dignity. I flat out lied about who God has named you. I’m sorry.

I’m also realizing how much I still carry the things people have said to me. Years ago. Some people have said dumb things to me and I am still believing they are true about me, and that they are true of what that person thought of me.

But the thing is, dumb things were said to me in a moment of weakness. Dumb things were said to me to break the ice. Dumb things were said to me without thinking. And dumb things were said to me by people who wished they could have those words back. My friend, father, mother, brother, sister, and even my enemy knew the power of their words and regretted what was said in that moment over us.

In this moment, if you are reading this and you have said something dumb to me–and it hurt–I forgive you. I’m learning to not give power to words said in jerky, insecure moments. I’m sorry I held on to that thing for so long. I’m sorry I ever allowed it to affect me as long as it has. I’ve learned that my dignity comes from how creator God sees me. I’ve learned that what God has named me is true.

I’m learning that I can forgive dumb things said to me, because God has forgiven the dumb things I have said to others.

We live in a culture where our words can have a larger impact than ever. A joke told verbally might be funny, but in print, online, it hangs in the room and becomes awkward, and stings a bit longer. We can hit enter on our devices and cause harm without seeing the reaction of the person on the other side. Sometimes, we don’t know the power of our words.

Over the next two years (does it ever really stop) we are going to be reminded of the dumb things our neighbors and humans we disagree with have said on their way to political office. Videos will surface of dumb things that were said in a moment of weakness. Dumb things that were said before the power of those words were made known.

Let us be people who are quick to recognize we said something dumb.

Let us be people who are quick to forgive when others say something dumb.

And let us be people who seek to use our words to build up and not tear down.

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”–Proverbs 12:18

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”–Ephesians 4:29-32

April 7, 2014
by Ray Hausler
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The Team I Work With

Almost all of the current research available about how young people remain connected to their faith and their church after graduating high school is in agreement on one thing. That one thing is that students who remain connected have 5-7 adults who have been faith influencers in their lives. This ranges from parents to grandparents and from Sunday School teachers to family friends. The most important factor in long term faith development is adults living life in front of and passing down faith in Christ Jesus to the next generation.

This is why I want to focus on those who are doing the work of the youth ministry in the congregation I work for—Cincinnati Christian Church. The people who every week invest in at least one child who is a part of this community.

Allow me to brag on our high school team. This is a team who will often be ears to students who are differentiating themselves from their parents. These people are the ones who get to speak life into our students at a time when the students are questioning mom and dad’s ability to know things. It starts with our Sunday School teachers David Spillman and Joe Randall. These two men are passionate about Jesus and helping our high school students know Jesus through scripture. On Sunday nights, in our life groups, Andy Brough, Kathy Price, and Josh Allgood have been doing an outstanding job facilitating discussions about how to live like Jesus. And on Wednesday night Dan Wilson, David and Sara Spillman, and Kathy have been meeting students where they are at, sharing laughter and stories as they have made themselves available to our students.

We also have a middle school team who faithfully has been building up the squirreliest bunch of young people we have among us. Our middle school team, more than any of the others is encountering young people in our community who have little to no church background, which often leads to off topic discussion and crazy questions. But this team is rocking it. Christy Boles has taken ownership of the 7th and 8th grade Sunday School class and is doing a great job. Bryan Davis loves his 5th and 6th grade Sunday School students and they know it. On Sunday nights Scott and Nancy Schroyer, Gary and Jeniffer Meese, James Skomp, and Tanya Johnson have been leading our life group discipleship program and helping to make Jesus the center of your young people’s lives. The Schroyers and Meeses have also been readily available to laugh and have fun with students on Wednesday. You should see the dodgeball skills of Scott and Gary—impressive. Josh Allgood is also usually in the dodgeball mix as he hangs out with the middle school team in Big Room on Wednesdays.

In our children’s ministry we are going through some transition with those who have served. We are thankful for those who have stepped away into other ministry opportunities after serving so well. That includes Mack and Amy Rogers and Dave and Lesa Williams. Both of those families were amazing in their season of serving and we are grateful. On Sunday mornings during our Kids City worship time, Scott Schroyer continues to be a key teacher in that ministry with the help of his brother Shane. Joe and Jayme Bellman have been added to the team on Sunday morning and are doing a great job being with our children. On Sunday nights James Skomp is stepping in to our Kids City programming and already connecting with the children there along with Dylan Enochs who is present every week.KidsCityon Wednesdays is often attended by a group of children who are rookies to church and look forward to each week with eager anticipation. Gordon and Linda Anderson and Paul Fries and Dylan Enochs are serving in an important role with a group that can sometimes be difficult. And they are shining stars in the lives of those children. In addition, our Sunday School teachers Pauline McGuire, Ella Carter, Tracey Levy, Dan Wilson and Michelle Kieft are making sure children have a positive experience with church, know that Jesus loves them, and know they have adults who care for them.

I have said so much about so many of our programs, but one of our brightest stars is the Early Childhood Ministries Program led by Jenny Stinson. There are to many workers downstairs to mention, but they are creating an incredible environment where young families can feel safe leaving their children, while also helping those children discover Christ for themselves.

I am so proud of all of the people spending their lives building up children and youth. They are making CCC a place to be for families with children. And I am thankful for them.