Puppy Steps! 

The spring gave new birth to a puppy in the Krajewski household! On June 8, we picked up our new Goldendoodle puppy from the farm country of Bennett, Colorado. I've heard it said that Goldendoodles have the head of a Poodle and heart of a Golden Retriever…intelligence mixed with compassion. After spirited deliberation and debate, we named our new girl puppy “Gracie,” as a reminder of God's grace, or unmerited favor, in our lives. Plus, we felt like we needed a heaping bowl full of God's grace after our last dog—a crazy Jack Russell Terrorist!

As spring pounced into summer, it has been a joy to watch Gracie run, play and puppy-prance around our home. Her awkward puppy steps are hilarious. She doesn't quite understand that there is a difference between running on carpet versus running on hardwood floors, which has produced many laughs around our parts as she slip-slide-slips the transition between the two floors. One time, she slid a six-foot section of hardwood, face first, into her dog bowl. She has brought new laughter, lifeand joy to an already happy home. 

As I watch Gracie being a puppy, I can't help but think of evangelism and the cause of Christ. Really! You may be thinking, "How in the world do you think of evangelism and Jesus Christ when watching your puppy?!"  Good question. Hear me out on this. 

Our small groups at Aspen Ridge recently completed a 6-week Contagious Christianinteractive DVD series. I met with many of the small group leaders after completion and am pleased to report that the evangelism series was a hit! The series taught us to share our faith within the context of personal relationships in a friendly and relational way, based on our own personality types. After meeting with our dedicated small group leaders, I learned that the series was a success among many small groups because it was radically different than any other evangelism training out there. I heard that many evangelism courses are too rigid, formulaic and/or intense, with unneeded elements of pressure and "results" added in, just to make things more uncomfortable. Knocking on doors and saying, "Do you know Jesus?" is not a popular way to do evangelism around here…and for good reason. Contagious Christianis not that evangelism course. In a comfortable and relaxed way, it taught us to hone our faith stories, pray for those who haven't made Jesus leader of their life and practice ways to add faith topics into everyday conversations in a way that fit our personality type. We learned that we don't have to be charismatic and charming like Billy Graham to share our faith effectively, nor as unhinged as people who hold signs and yell on street corners, for people to hear about this message. 

Many small group members and leaders have new energy to share their faith with others, due to God working through the Contagious Christianprogram. As we introduce folks to the leader of our life and how he can change their life, I can't help but think that many of us will be making evangelism "puppy steps" at first. I realize that some of us are already full-grown Golden Retrievers, sharing truth in love while wagging our tails. But most of us aren't, myself included. Just like my new puppy, Gracie, we might be awkward, off-balanced and downright clumsy when we take intentional steps to share the gospel with folks. Most of us are just not good at this, and that's ok! We may fall and struggle to get up as we make these puppy steps of faith. 

Rest assured that God will be with us with every "puppy step" we make to honor and glorify Him. God delights in us and sings over his children(Psalm 18:19, Zephaniah 3:17)! When we make puppy steps to honor him, I can almost picture Him with an ear to ear smile and hearty laugh, like those that have blessed the walls of my home as we watched our puppy run around. With practice and patience, He will give us spiritual muscle over time that will make our evangelism steps more secure and confident. If Gracie remains the same size and retains the same balance over the next year or two, it won't be cute anymore because I will know something is wrong. Similarly, we must grow in our faith…maturity and steadiness over the next months and years if we are to impact those around us with the gospel. 

As I delight in watching Gracie, I noticed one more thing about her. Her tail wags with joy as she pounces and plays about. Her body language and eyes exude happiness. Her joy is contagious. Even when she falls for no apparent reason, she happily gets up and goes joyfully to the next stop. This reminded me of other aspects of sharing our faith. If we share with joy and delight, it will be more contagious. The gospel will be more appealing to others. As we make puppy steps, God can also use it to give us ultimate joy and delight in him. Sharing our faith is true evidence of our ultimate satisfaction in Him. As John Piper once said, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."  The more we are satisfied in God for who he is, not what He can give us, the more we want to tell other people about Him and the forgiveness He offers through His cross work. 

People think and talk most about what gives them the most satisfaction…the thing they love the most. Who or what do you think and talk the most about? If you are honest about this last question, you will discover who or what is leader of your life, who or what is your god. Everybody has one or more. 

Because I believe we are most satisfied in the God of the Bible, Aspen Ridge overflows with His love and good news, even as we stumble and fall. We joyfully share it, and serve others, because we just can't stop thinking about how His grace changed our lives. We want others to have the satisfaction and freedom we do. We celebrate and affirm other believers as they puppy step out with evangelism. We serve our community. This is the heart of being a Contagious Christian, and I'm excited to be on this journey with you! One great opportunity we have on this journey is to invite a neighbor or friend to Faith Day at the Rockies on July 29, with a concert by Passion to follow the game.  

Little Gracie will likely grow into a dog with the intellect of a Poodle and heart of a Golden Retriever. I pray that as we mature into contagious Christians, we will grow in knowledge of the word and love like Jesus did. Truth in love. May God richly bless us as we joyfully take puppy steps of sharing the gospel with others. 

Eric Krajewski
Director of Small Groups