Developing An Unoffendable Heart

i’m super excited about a new series we’re starting this sunday with our teens at lakeshore. it’s called “No Offense!”

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it seems more and more that we’re so easily offended these days, and i wonder what that says about our internal unhealth.  if we’re truly secure in our relationship with God, i have to believe we wouldn’t take things so personally.  it’d still be hard, of course, but at least we’d be able to navigate the situation without it crippling us.

here’s a little bit more about the series as we get word out to the students on it:
we’ve all heard people at times start a conversation with us with the line “No Offense, but…” and then proceed to lay into us and our shortcomings.  there’s no doubt that people’s words can be hurtful and damaging, but the truth of the matter is, they’re not going away.  even if you drop those relationships, someone else will eventually come to take their place.  how do we develop a heart that is secure enough in who we are to not be constantly offended at every lazy word directed at us?  if you’re in junior high or high school, be sure to join us for this important series; we’re confident it will help you manage the pressure of this last month of school!

the graphic above came from one of my favorite sites – creationswap. be sure to go over there and buy the image if you’re thinking of using this in your setting at some point in the future!

 

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Lakeshore’s First “Sent-Out” Missionary is in the Air

another great friend and ministry partner left our comfortable, suburban bubble this morning to serve the poor.  for me, today is a day filled with a number of different emotions.  we are obviously thrilled and excited, knowing the huge win this is for the kingdom of God and the work that He is doing around the world.  at the same, there are emotions of sadness and loss as we will miss his presence and influence here in our own “jerusalem”.

dan robillard accepted Christ a few years ago at lakeshore – he can tell you the exact spot he was sitting at in the auditorium when he made that decision.  before long, he jumped on serving teams and used his gifts, time, and resources to make a difference in our community.  while i am the “face” of our student ministry, for the last 5 years he has been the guy behind the scenes that consistently gets the work done, and i can’t remember a time when he wasn’t serving our students with a contagious amount of joy and humility.

DanRobillard_PromoCard

right now, as i write this, he’s in nyc awaiting the big flight over the atlantic to johannesburg, south africa, and eventually on to dondo, mozambique.  when we briefly met yesterday, he told me that the only clothes he was bringing for himself fit in one carry-on.  the other two 50-lb. bags were filled with supplies to use and give away.  this is how this man lives.  he thinks so little of himself, and always of others.  i love it that lakeshore’s first “sent-out” missionary is of this caliber.

today might be a good day to consider your role in supporting dan’s ministry on an on-going basis.  shanna and i are personally part of his support team, and we welcome you to join us.   there are many great works around the world to invest in, and i want you to know that i believe in this one at the core of my being.

head over here to find out more.

How To Be A Person That Others Open Up To

i’ve been thinking lately about what it is in people that makes us perceive someone else to be “safe” while others to be “unsafe”.  i’m not talking about the ‘hey-little-girl-want-some-ice-cream?’ kind of unsafe here… but rather, the degree in someone that communicates to us that it is not ok to open ourselves up to.  or the degree to which i can look at someone and trust them and be totally comfortable sharing the real me without sugarcoating and hiding and glossing over the truth.

let’s face it… some people have it. and some people don’t.

Trust-hand

over the years, there are definitely some people i’ve not shared certain things with.  part of that has been due to my own immaturity and need to be comfortable with my own imperfections, but they are still worth noting.  real ministry is done in the context of real relationships, and if these things mark your life, you probably aren’t (perceived as) a safe person.

  • when you only share the good things in life i wonder if you’re safe.  “do you ever struggle, or am i the only one?”  if you only share the good, people will tend to think that you’re not comfortable talking about the bad.  they know it’s there in you just like it is in them, but if you’re not cool with going there, then they know they can’t truly fit in around you.

  • when you spiritualize everything we talk about i wonder if you’re safe.  “do you always have a verse for everything?”  i’m not knocking scripture memory here or bashing the value of talking in ways that ascribe glory to God… but sometimes i think people hide behind spiritual cliches because it gets them out of uncomfortable moments.  when i’m hurting, sometimes the best thing you can say to me is nothing at all.  just being there with your mouth shut will communicate trust in ways that your words never could.

  • when you never share details about your life that could make you vulnerable i wonder if you’re safe.  “do you ever stop managing your image and let down your guard?”  if you’ve never inadvertently asked me to extend grace to you because you’ve shared something potentially vulnerable about yourself, what makes you think i will share something vulnerable about myself and expect to receive grace back?  relationships are a two-way street, and the best way to get something out of me that will make me vulnerable is to lead the way by sharing something about yourself that makes you vulnerable.

so how do you be a person that others open to?

do the opposite of the above.

share the good… but also the bad. and don’t leave out the ugly.  talk about your losses just as much as your wins.  when someone asks how you’re doing, give them an honest response, and watch for how they react.  share the things about you that are messy and raw.  and let people in on the parts of you that God is still working on.

our generation is hungry for authentic people to open up to.  will you be the one to lead the way?

Don’t Let Your Marriage Settle For Good

this past weekend shanna and i had the opportunity to get away for a few days to work on our marriage. and it was so great! it was a great reminder to me that because of the busyness and crazyness and demands and pressures and to-do lists that are unavoidable and inescapable in life and especially in ministry, what unfortunately often happens is that the people who mean the most to us end up getting pieces of us, but not all of us.

unless we’re intentional.

i’m so thankful for the ministry of family life and their weekend to remember events that helped us be intentional again.

WeekendtoRemember

here’s why the weekend was so great and why you should consider going soon when you get a chance:
  • the speakers were excellent, well-prepared, and engaging.  i loved how real they were and how their examples weren’t all success stories, but illustrations of personal pain and hurt that they inflicted on their spouse, and how they found a path to healing. 
  • the event was not super churchy or religiously stuffy. as a pastor, i sometimes get cyncial going into things like this (like taking bets on how many fireproof clips they’re gonna show), but this wasn’t like that. while they are very biblical, i wouldn’t be afraid to invite an unchurched friend.
  • they intentionally leave saturday evening free & unprogrammed for a date night. it was so good for our marriage to be able to have some relaxing time together, away from adelina, and out of the reach of our cell phones.
we just celebrated our 8th anniversary the other day, and while i would say our marriage was good, this weekend helped me see that it could be so much better.
thank you family life!

Tired of Playing the Stupid Ninja Game At Youth Group?

for those of us in student ministry, games are part of the gig. there are messy games, embarrassing games, up front games, crowd-mixing games, and quite frankly – other games that just shouldn’t be played!
here’s a super-fun game that our teens love right now. we actually have to be careful not to play it TOO much… or else they probably won’t love it anymore! i think i originally found it over at youthleaderstash, so head over there for more great ideas!

dodgeball

KILLBALL

  • all you need is a ball of some sort (dodgeball, volleyball, etc.) and at least 4 or 5 people. the more the merrier.
  • get everyone in a circle.
  • at first the game is played like volleyball – someone throws the ball into the air and volleys the ball 3 times (between 3 different people).
  • after the ball is bounced around the circle for the third time, someone catches the ball and the game instantly turns into dodgeball. at this point, regular dodgeball rules take over. the person who caught the ball cannot move, but everyone else can run away.
  • the person with the ball quickly throws it at the nearest person – if it hits them, they’re out, and play restarts with everyone else.  but if the person throws the ball and it is caught, the thrower is out.
  • the ball is dead when it hits the ground. keep playing until one player remains!
try it out this week and let me know how it goes!

An Unexpected Check In The Mail

today my wife and i received a reminder from God that was long overdue.

he still provides.

i think i’ve grown cynical and somewhat skeptical about this over the last few months.  on a personal level, bills and have been piling in and the money has been tight.  i look around and see many people who don’t seem to be “provided” for. i have friends in third world countries who didn’t have a meal provided yesterday. i know many trapped in a black hole of medical bills. and so many nights i go to bed wondering, if i’m honest, does he still provide?
i’m not here saying right now that i have it all figured out.  or that all my theological questions of God’s provision now have answers.  there are still many lingering questions.
but i was reminded today that He does provide… simply because some things just can’t be called a coincidence.
yesterday we received an extremely thoughtful note in the mail and a random check for $135.00.  it was from a relatively new friend, who i barely know, and have yet to actually meet in person. i love this guy and hope to shake his hand and give him a big hug in the future. anyways, his note read that he and his wife had some extra money at the end of april, thought of us, and decided to bless us with it.
we’ve had similar things like this occur before.  one time when shanna and i were newly married (8 years ago now) we had received a check like this.  as we talked through it, we didn’t know what we should do with it (shoot- i miss those days!).  a few days later we heard of a friend in need of that exact amount of money.  we decided to resend the entire check to them and see what happened.
guess what…
he provided for them. i still remember it like it was yesterday – it was a powerful moment; one of those experiences where you look up to the heavens, shake your head in wonder, and say “i will remember this”.
i don’t think we purposefully forget those things. i just think sometimes life gets complex. the formulas change. and we begin to reevaluate the scenarios of the past to the realities of the present.
fast-forward back to today.
had a great evening with our family tonight celebrating mother’s day with my mom… both of my girls are sleeping the whole way home from syracuse… we finally arrive home and while shanna is carrying adelina into bed, i go grab the mail.  i open the mailbox and out pops a bill for guess how much…
yeah.

$135.00.

i’m not lying.  i can show it to you if you want to see.  and it’s one of those bills we were not expecting and we probably would have freaked out had yesterday’s mail not already come.
i should blog more about our financial journey over the last 8 years, because we’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way. we’ve recently gone through financial peace university, and it’s been so helpful in moving us to a better place. we’re still trying to pay back the “stupid” from our early years when we failed to trust God to provide. but we’re getting smarter and we’re finding ourselves more disciplined than ever.
and now today, when i was wondering if he still provides, i received this reminder.

2 Free Productivity Tools I’m Loving Right Now

i go in and out seasons where i waste time searching for tools that can make me more productive and waste less time.   here are 2 free tools i’m using and loving right now. hopefully now you don’t have to waste time looking for them!

Wunderlist

i’ve tried a lot of different ways to organize my to do lists, and until now i’ve never been truly in love with any of the different systems out there. i feel the most disorganized when i don’t have all my tasks in one place, and this tool has solved that issue.

wunderlist ipad

though there are many other features that make it great, here’s why i love wunderlist:

  • it’s incredibly simple.  most of the task management tools out there are more complex than what i need right now, and they end up being more work than help.  if you’re looking for something that can let you enter start dates, due dates, current statuses, priorities, and who it’s assigned to… you probably won’t like this one.
  • its drag and drop feature. you can easily drag and drop tasks within your list to reorder them, and you can drag and drop between different lists as well. this is how i set priority: i just move the task to the top of my list!
  • it’s easy to enter data. getting new tasks into the system is as quick as writing it on a piece of paper. with the iphone app, you can quickly add a task to your “inbox list”, and then move it to a more specific list and set deadlines at a later time.  if you’re using a computer, you can enter multiple tasks, one after another, without ever touching the mouse.
  • it syncs in the cloud.  you can be confident that as soon as you sync it on the device you’re working on, you’ll see the same thing on every other device – including iphone, ipad, mac, windows, and on the web.
  • it’s free.  there is a paid version, but so far the free option is working perfect for me.

OmmWriter

if you ever have blocks of time in your schedule where you try to focus your thoughts and get written content down, this tool could become your best friend. i use it all the time now when i’m writing blogposts, sermon scripts, long emails, or meeting agendas.  i’m actually using it right now as i write this post.

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here’s some features of OmmWriter that make it my tool of choice when trying to create content:

  • it controls your screen and completely takes over. even if you have your computer hooked up to a second display, it blacks that out as well. the program visually focuses your eye on one text box and removes everything else from your line of sight, no matter how many programs you have running.  when an email comes in, you won’t know it and you won’t lose your train of thought.
  • you can’t get bogged down in formatting. save that for Word or Pages… there’s no formatting features here! the whole purpose of this tool is to simply get the content out of your head and into writing.  you can make it look pretty later.
  • there’s settings that allow you to play calm background music and soft keystroke sounds, and when you use headphones you really can’t hear other things around you.
if you find these tools helpful, let me know in the comments.