The Scary Bridge

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I love bridges. But I didn’t used to.

A couple of days ago, I drove over the causeway bridge that leads into St. Petersburg, FL. It’s a long bridge with a super high point. It was a beautiful drive. As I began the ascent a memory came to mind:

When I was a child we went on a family vacation to Galveston and I experienced my first tall causeway bridge. I’ll never forget looking up and seeing that bridge that seemed to go straight up into the clouds and not come down. I remember the lump in my throat and the butterflies in my stomach. And I remember the climb that seemed to go on forever and there was no end in sight until we got all the way to the peak of the bridge. And then it happened – my dad said, “Whoa! Here we go!” And the descent ensued with laughter from me and my siblings and a huge, “Wow!” as we headed down to the other side.

Are you looking at a bridge with fear and trepidation in your ministry? Are you hoping for change but not sure how to get there?

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You Too Can Be a Hula Hoop Champion

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One toy that has not changed a bit is the hula hoop. There’s nothing you can do to innovate it. It’s simply a round circle of plastic that comes in various colors. Pretty basic, and it has never changed.

When I was a kid, everyone had a hula hoop in the neighborhood. Occasionally we would gather all the kids together on the block and have a contest to see who could hula the longest to be the hula hoop champion. I must confess: I was not very good at it and never won the championship. It always seemed to be the girl from down the street who was in dance class and could just go on forever without any effort. But hey, it brought everyone together for lots of fun and laughter. Oh yeah, and it was “groovy” and we wore bell bottoms. {more}

Who’s Your Neighbor? No Really…

 

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One of my favorite games to play with young people is called “Who’s Your Neighbor?” In fact, I often got the eye roll when playing it with middle school or high school kids because I played it so much. But I played it anyways because the eye roll was quickly stopped in its tracks with lots of laughter. And best of all, names were learned. You don’t know the game?…(more)

Dead Trees

We moved into our house about 9 years ago. It was built in 1980. We had two beautiful Silver Maple trees in the front yard. Last year they died. It was sort of a slow death, but they both began dying at about the same time. It was a bummer to watch because they provided some nice shade in the yard. We finally had to take them down. I later learned that many builders will plant Silver Maple trees because they grow relatively fast. Nobody wants to have little trees in their yard, at least not in this neighborhood lined with huge, beautiful shade trees. So I was talking to my brother (who has a forestry degree) about what would be the best tree to plant. [more]

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No Church Buildings (Part 2)

I seemed to have struck a chord with folks last week. As it turns out there are many people who have had a similar thought about doing ministry beyond the church walls. Go figure. It also turns out that the idea of ministering without buildings (or at least outside the church walls) is not a new concept. It’s been going on for a couple thousand years. As you well know, Jesus was the ultimate example of going into the messy places of peoples lives. That’s not to say he didn’t go to the synagogues. Yet so often his “sermons” were about ministering to the people on the streets.  He often had some choice words to share with the scribes and Pharisees as well and also questioned people’s behavior.

Let’s just say, Jesus rarely asked us to sit still and wait for people to come to us.80aES

Last week…{more}

No Church Buildings

Look deeply into this question.

What would the church look like if we had no buildings?

And by church, I mean you and me, the body of Christ. Think long and hard about this. We have invested a ton of money, technology, planning, time and energy into building and maintaining church buildings. I can drive in a few mile radius and pass all kinds of churches and some really big oneChurch-Construction-Frames (I live in Texas). I’m amazed sometimes at how much we put into these structures. We have gyms, conference rooms, classrooms and worship centers set up to host all kinds of events. Not only do we put lots of energy into building them but we also put lots of energy into filling them. We constantly push out publicity in hopes that people will show up to fill these structures so that we can captivate their attention, if just for an hour, in hopes that they will become deeply connected with Christ. [more]

Deeper…

I hear it all the time. “We want our ministry to go deeper.” In fact, “going deeper” is a phrase we throw around in all kinds of areas of our lives. The desire to go deeper is the hope that we will make a greater difference or whatever we are doing will have more meaning. A recent study in marine science estimates that there are 230,000 species of life in the ocean. In order to find this out they had to do a 10 year study and go to the deepest depths of the sea. Pretty amazing. I’ll bet they had to go to some pretty scary places. Life and ministry is like that isn’t it. We often stay on the surface because going deeper means getting messy and there are places that we may need to go that are down right scary. But in the deep is where we find the power of the cross, the depth of God’s love for us. I’ve been thinking about this a lot in terms of what many churches are going through. I’ve had countless conversations with church leaders who end up frustrated because they feel their people are reluctant to go deeper in their faith journey because they are too busy, don’t feel equipped, are afraid of the mystery of what they might find or maybe they just aren’t interested.

Just what is it that will help people to go deeper in their pursuit of God?ocean-depths-900x1440
 

My first experience snorkling in Jamaica several years ago I was very excited. In this particular location, all we had to do was walk into the water from the beach and we were able to see all kinds of beautiful fish. But then a friend asked if I wanted to go out into the deep water. I hesitated because I know I’m not a strong swimmer and I’m afraid of what lurks out there. I mean, I watched Jaws in the theatre in junior high. But he encouraged me. He said he would be right there with me and it would be fun. So off I went. And he was right. While it was indeed scary as we held our breath and dove down into the deep water, the colors and coral and thousands of fish were absolutely beautiful. It was a whole different world than close to the shore. Every time I looked over to my friend he had a big smile and a thumbs up. My eyes were opened to a whole new world that day and I’ll never forget it.

So what helps us go deeper in our faith? It’s people. People who encourage, listen, ask important questions and walk (or swim) alongside us and promise not to leave us. They don’t point out how “shallow” our faith is, they honor the place we are and challenge us to explore new depths in our relationship with God. When we take the risk of going deeper, God reveals to us some incredible things. Will you go?