How Do We Respond to the Joy of Human Life?

How Do We Respond to the Joy of Human Life?

My last post centered around how we respond to the LOSS of human life. Honestly, sometimes we don't do so well. 

Today's focus is the flip side. The redemption side. This is pure JOY.

This past weekend one of our artists shared vulnerably and transparently a piece of her story. Just 5 years ago she was in a dark place of depression that led her to the edge of a bridge where she intended to end her life. 

But...

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How Do We Respond to the Loss of Human Life?

How Do We Respond to the Loss of Human Life?

No one can understand the place the human mind and soul go when overtaken by depression. Unless you've been there. Whether a season or a lifetime condition, mental illness is just that: it is an illness. And if that dark place of depression leads to such despair that taking one’s life seems like the only sensible thing to do - well, only those who’ve sat on that ledge can truly know that soulish agony.

I sat with a young man last week at a hospital where he was working his way back from attempting to take his own life...

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10 Reasons You're Not Ready to Welcome New Guests

10 Reasons You're Not Ready to Welcome New Guests

You don’t intend to not be ready. You really want everyone to feel welcome. You even have some greeters at the front door. People are shaking hands, and they appear to be friendly. 

However, every weekend people walk into churches across America and feel less than welcome. They don't know what to do or where to go. They feel like strangers.

Here are 10 reasons you and your church may not be ready to welcome new guests to your weekend service: 

  1. Your culture is developed for “family” and every weekend is a reunion. Unfortunately, guests can sense when they aren’t treated as family.
  2. You have a “friendly” church. Unfortunately,...
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Navigating Change: Part 3

Navigating Change: Part 3

As we face change, we face the temptation to fight the change. We get caught up in the agony of the change itself – and the self within us.

If you’re just tuning in to this three-part series, you’ll want to carve out a few minutes to read Part 1 and Part 2. I’m writing about change and how it exposes the “real me.” We’re in almost constant transition – with jobs, family, relationships, and ministry.

The final portion of this series below isn’t intended to be formulaic or prescriptive. Navigating change is more fluid than that. However, the following may be helpful just the same.

Embrace the change.

  • It’s here. It’s real.
  • Don’t play the
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Navigating Change: Part 2

Navigating Change: Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can catch up here. Regardless, here's a quick catch up...

Researchers who study the mind and our human experience tell us that any change, any transition – whether perceived as good or bad, positive or negative – any change brings some level of stress.

But the change is real. And change has to be navigated. And it is stressful.

In the stress I can become completely self-absorbed. And in doing so, I get buried by the self-focus of shame: “I’m not good enough or strong enough to navigate this…”
Or I become puffed up with the self-focus of pride: “I’ve got this. I’m self-sufficient.”

Either way this change, this circumstance becomes all my focus. We just want to change the circumstance that's changed.

Yesterday, I noted that maybe, just maybe there's ore God wants to help us navigate. Perhaps these seasons of transition become an opportunity to ask God to help us look under our own hood.

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Navigating Change: Part 1

Navigating Change: Part 1

I’m increasingly amazed at the amount of change in my life. Truth is, maybe it’s always been a cyclone of change. Maybe I’m just getting older. I am getting older, no doubt. Am I handling change differently in my fifties? Am I less nimble emotionally and psychologically? Maybe it’s not about age. Perhaps because change is cumulative, there’s a growing pile and increasing effect on my life. I suppose that’s tied to the number of years I’ve lived, but not about my age.

Bottom line: there’s a pile of change. My baby girl just finished

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Honest in Church?

Honest in Church?

Church is too often the most risky place to be spiritually honest. - Peter Enns

It's a challenging statement. And yet, most of us know exactly what it means. Of course, we are complex beings, thoroughly connected: body, mind, spirit. So being spiritually honest can be as difficult to as revealing our mental illness, our emotional insecurities, our addictions.

How does this risk exist in too many churches? What contributes to our mask-wearing? Perhaps some of the following are true...

  • Do we expect only joy should be expressed in corporate worship?
  • Do we say "how are you?" with any intention of hearing what's true - regardless?
  • Do we believe that Christ-followers should never feel depression, anxiety or suicidal ideation?
  • Do we value closure and convincing over journey and process?
  • Are we afraid our question of faith...
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Independence: At What Cost?

I hope you'll watch the above video - if only for the lyrics. 

I want to see the LOVE. The all inclusive Relationship of God - the Triune God washing over all created beings. We can demonstrate his LOVE. We can embrace relationship the way GOD created it. We can see each person - every person - as a life that matters (every person - regardless of their country of origin or their faith). 

How do we understand and define our rights? How do we understand our freedom? How do we understand LOVE? How do we value American lives above the lives of others?

How do we recognize our friends and our loved ones and those we don't know - who risk their lives for a cause...and at the same time grieve for human lives lost...on both sides of a conflict, any war?

How will we celebrate the 4th of July?Will we wrestle with the real cost of freedom? Will we celebrate only with "American pride" and call it "Christian freedom?" 

Will we worship "American Christianity?

Do we understand the message of the cross of Jesus? Really? How will we live it out? How will I live it out? Today. In my world...where every person matters.

Do we grasp the message of LOVE

Do I?

 

If I Care at All, I Can't Look Away.

If I Care at All, I Can't Look Away.

As I write this, nearly 300 children are on our campus, playing games, climbing rock walls and learning that God loves them. It's what any child should be doing this summer. But it's not the reality for too many children - in our world, and right here at home.

I'm talking about human trafficking.

In the state of Indiana (my home state) last year the youngest reported victim of human sex trafficking was 7 years old. 7 years old. My eyes involuntarily close when I type that. My heart breaks. I want to turn away from my own writing like I've done too many times when the image of a starving child appears on my TV screen. But I can't look away

27 million people are estimated to be trafficked worldwide, producing $150 billion (U.S. Department of State). And it turns out the Midwest - the Crossroads of America - is a hotbed for this ghastly crime and victimization. I can't look away.

Last week I attended a community information meeting...

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Care is Intentional

Care is Intentional

What if you could learn...

  • how to listen - not only to words, but to someone's heart?
  • how to leverage your own brokenness in order to step with love into the brokenness of someone else?
  • to journey with someone whose shame is binding, confusing and masking their true identity?
  • to avoid some of the ridiculous...
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