Swiftwater Journey

faith, culture, and growing up in a rapidly changing world

Join Me Through Lent Reading the Scriptures February 9, 2016

Filed under: Spiritual Transformation — billmacphee @ 11:21 pm

The season of Lent has become encrusted with confusing barnacles of self-flagellation assuming we need to deny ourselves something to appease a God slightly ticked-off because of our less-than-holy living the rest of the year. The craziness of Fat Tuesday doesn’t help. We move through Lent toward Good Friday where we celebrate God’s initiative to provide salvation through the cross of Christ, always anticipating the good news of the bodily resurrection of Jesus, declaring there is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor. Giving up chocolate or red wine may be helpful in some ways, such as the beginning of some sort of spiritual discipline, but not to gain one inch toward salvation.

Scripture Reading

The big story of God is contained in the Scriptures, and a simple, but intentional reading of relevant texts that walk us toward the cross is a good use of time during Lent. By the way, Lent means Spring, so let’s celebrate the new life Spring brings by immersing ourselves in the big story of cross and resurrection.

Here are my selections for Scripture reading during Week 1 [February 10-14, 2016], and I thank my friend Kerry Olson for choosing the inspiring quotes along the way. Come back each week for more selections.

spring readings week 1

 

Millennial Parents January 17, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — billmacphee @ 9:45 pm

Is it possible that as the so called Millennial’s become parents they are struggling with authority? A recent study gives insight and indicates that compared to the cohort that has been labeled Gen-X, Millennials are more authoritarian. There is a significant difference between parents who use a libertine and those who land on a more authoritarian parenting style. In many ways, kids respond the same to both of these extremes. A laissez-faire, anything goes parent and a tight-fisted, controlling parent get the same outcome: insecure, rebellious, truth-hiding, prone to laziness adolescent. Less we put the blame on the young person, we must pause and reflect on the impact of the way we parent. A better approach is to choose an authoritative stance, where mom and dad are still in charge, but their primary goal is help their son and daughter discover who they are [identity], what they are called to do [purpose], and where they fit in the adult world [belonging]. Authoritative parents raise kids who are secure and confident, willing to take risks, and engage in making the world a better place not only for themselves, but others.

 

Why I Prefer Paper/Physical Books to Ebooks January 14, 2016

Filed under: pastoral leadership,Technology,Uncategorized — billmacphee @ 11:57 am

I prefer physical books for many of the same reasons Michael lists here. Primary among them is the feel and interaction I have with books, taking notes, flipping pages, reviewing the big ideas. I have the same feeling about reading the Bible online versus my paper text. Maybe it is because I am used to the format, but I like being able to look at two pages in a paper book or Bible, because this trains my eyes to see context. Ebooks and YouVersion for my Bible is useful and used often, I just still prefer the kinesthetic engagement.

http://michaelhyatt.com/ebooks-2016.html

 

Teachers: Tend Your Heart This Summer June 4, 2014

Filed under: education,Spiritual Transformation,Time — billmacphee @ 10:44 am
Tags: , ,
VCS Concentration Deans

VCS Concentration Deans

After an exciting, yet energy-sapping school year, take time to invest in your own health. May your summer be filled with life-giving joy, adventure and spiritual depth, all for the glory of the author of life, Jesus Christ!

 

Keeper of Spring[1]

There was a town in the Alps, straddling the banks of a beautiful stream, fed by springs high above. The stream was crystal clear, providing sanctuary for birds, children, rainbow trout, and picnics. It was a thriving town. High in the hills, far beyond anyone’s sight, lived an old man, known as the “keeper of the spring.” He carefully cleared the spring of anything that might choke the stream. Hired long ago, few remembered why he was there.

 

One day, the town Council looked at their expenses and decided they needed the old man’s paycheck for other priorities, so they fired him. The springs went untended; the stream clogged. For a time, no one noticed, but soon the water began to change, becoming toxic. The birds flew away, the fish died, the children weren’t allowed to play—some in the town even grew ill.

 

The life of the village depended on the stream, and the life of the stream depended on the keeper of the spring.

The spring is your heart. You are its keeper.

 

In Proverbs 4:23 Solomon offers advice from father to son.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” NIV
The original language actually says “from your heart flow the springs of life.”

 

Your “heart” is the part of you that connects on the deepest level with who you are and your reason for being on this planet [and serving students at school] … it is your life and you are its keeper. Lose your heart and you lose your life. It is difficult to over-describe the worth of your heart. After a long year, some might have lost touch with their heart’s value. Let’s be honest, our world gives small priority to the condition of your heart, and life can shrivel it like a raisin. So I say to you, guard your heart!

 

A thriving heart, according to author Simon Sinek, starts by asking Why, before asking What.[2] This summer is a great time to re-clarify your Why. What questions focus on task; Why questions get you to mission. After a long year, you may have boiled life down to asking What questions: what is on my to-do list for today? What is my curriculum? What is urgent? What keeps me out of trouble?

 

The Why question comes from deeper in our hearts. It asks, Why am I living this story in the first place?[3] Tend your heart by learning to ask Why before you ask What.

Why-questions push the boundaries.
Why-questions embody a dream.
Why-questions inspire.
Why-questions change the world.

 

Health breeds health. Healthy adults = healthy students. As the leaders go, so goes a school. Healthy leaders guard their heart, and align life with their Why. But how?

 

5 positive heart-rejuvenating practices for your summer:[4]

 

  1. The Discipline of Rest
    • Retreat from the surge. Work hard, then rest.
    • Genesis 2:1-2 – God rested from all his work; Exodus 31:12 “observe my Sabbaths … so you may know that I am the Lord.”
    • Shut down for a third of the daily cycle. “Off-switch” given by God.
    • Unplug, be quiet.[5]
    • The difference between ‘doing’ and ‘being.’ Doing comes out of being.
    • Make deliberate choices toward restoration.
    • How will you truly rest this summer?

 

  1. The Discipline of Reflection
    • Not just reacting like a boxer to the volume of stuff – overloaded lives.
    • Build in margin in order to have time for rest and reflection.[6]
    • Mark 1:35 – after a busy night, Jesus was by himself to pray. Luke 5:16 “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Jesus’ Why came from alone time.
    • Bible reading and prayer in morning can be helpful, including journaling.
    • Take time to process, intentionally reflecting on what is happening, what does this mean, where is God in this?
    • In what part of your day will you invest in reflecting?

 

  1. The Discipline of Reading
    • We are what we read.
    • Reading is a form of rest and reflection.
    • We don’t do a lot of long form reading on the Internet – Twitter 140 characters.[7]
    • Tackle a book or extensive essay; it will focus your mind, and stimulate the brain.
    • Reader’s lead, and leaders read.
    • 2 Timothy 4:13 “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.”
    • What are you reading this summer?

 

  1. The Discipline of Recreation
    • Re-Creation.
    • Recreation includes play, having fun, working out, eating right, paint, guitar, fish, even golf.
    • There is a difference between amusement and recreation … a unique kind of ‘tired.’
    • Ephesians 2:10 you are “created to create.”
    • We are not just a consumer, but also a creator.
    • What kind of life-giving recreation will you enjoy this summer?

 

  1. The Discipline of Relationships
    • Maybe the most important practice. Genesis 2:18 “It is not good for the man to be alone.”
    • The Trinity is in relationship.
    • Online Facebook relationships don’t cut it. We sometimes get our identity from Facebook/social media.
    • Who are the 4 or 5 in-depth relationships that are restorative? Seek these people out and put them on your calendar.
    • They are a guardrail to going off the deep end, and provide protection from a loss of perspective.
    • With whom will you find life through investing in healthy relationships this summer?

 

But in case you leave this school year in a place of deep discouragement, or even a sense of failure, I am reminded of a story …

 

The Crooked Kiss[8]

Dr. Richard Selzer performed a difficult surgery on a young woman’s face, accidentally cutting a nerve causing her mouth to droop. In the recovery room she asked, “Will my mouth always be like this?” “Yes,” he said, “it will be. It is because the nerve was cut.” She nodded and was silent. But her young husband smiled. “I like it,” he said. “It is kind of cute.” Then he bent to kiss her crooked mouth, and the Dr. was so close he saw how her husband twisted his own lips to accommodate her, to show her that their kiss still worked.”

Living from your heart is not easy. Your journey to Why will be filled with trouble, even pain. I remind you of the beauty of your heart, and of the gospel. Jesus twists his own lips to accommodate yours, to show you that your kiss still works. You are a valuable part of God’s plan for the students in your world.

 

Guard your heart, discover your Why, change the world.

 

 

[1] Thanks to Chuck Swindoll, Improving Your Serve, and John Ortberg, Soul-Keeping.

[2] Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Thanks to Kimberly Inskeep, President and Chief Culture Officer at Carol Anderson by Invitation (CAbi) who introduced me to Sinek and asking why before what.

[3] May I suggest Donald Miller, Storyline: Finding Your Subplot in God’s Story, for your reading?

[4] Thanks to Michael Hyatt. http://michaelhyatt.com/the-four-disciplines-of-the-heart.html.

[5] See Martha Beck, The Joy Diet, chapter one, “Nothing.”

[6]Richard Swenson, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives.

[7] Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains.

[8] Thanks to Mike Yaconelli, from whom I first heard this story. Richard Selzer, Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery.

 

The National Day of Prayer at Village Christian School – May 1, 2014 April 29, 2014

Filed under: pastoral leadership,Spiritual Transformation — billmacphee @ 12:19 pm
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Village Christian School is observing The National Day of Prayer this Thursday by inviting you to set aside about 10 minutes to pray near the beginning of our Late Start schedule at 9:30 am. Whether you are leading students in a classroom, or working in another capacity on campus, we ask you to invest a few minutes to join with millions around the world seeking God through prayer.

Here is a Guide [national day of prayer 2014] which teachers can adapt for their classroom time, or others can use with an office mate or two. Parents, Circles of CARE, and others are welcome to join us at 9:30 am, Thursday, May 1.

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, and intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone …” 1 Timothy 2:1

 

Be Brave – with what you want to say July 31, 2013

Filed under: Adolescence,Identity — billmacphee @ 11:51 am
Tags: , , , , ,

This is my favorite song of the summer for several reasons:

  • Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can maim and kill.
  • Bullies intimidate thoughtful people into silence.
  • Open dialogue is the pathway to understanding.
  • Fear is paralyzing but can be overcome.
  • I need to hear what you have to say.
  • Sara recruited regular people to dance in her video; there is hope for me.

I am one of those people who needs more than a moment to construct my thoughts so that my words offer wisdom instead of nonsense. The fear of saying the “wrong” thing sometimes causes me to stay silent when what I am forming in my mind is actually kind of helpful. It is frustrating missing the moment and then feeling poorly because I withheld a valuable word. I just need to be brave [in the moment], and also risk coming off less prepared, and even a little foolish. “My history of silence” won’t do me any good, and actually I don’t mind if others think I “took the wrong pill.”

I wonder how many young people around me want to say something but fear judgment, disapproval, or laughter. I’m going to be brave and listen in a way that invites others to say what they want to say.

“A person finds joy in giving an apt reply–and how good is a timely word!” Proverbs 15:23

 

11 Tips for Parents – Welcoming Your Teenager Home From Camp February 18, 2013

Filed under: Parenting,Uncategorized,Youth Ministry — billmacphee @ 1:25 pm
Tags: ,

Our family enjoyed the privilege of sending our daughter off to camp this long weekend, and we are preparing to welcome her home. While it has been a great couples weekend, it will be fun to hear the life-change stories emerging out of camp.

Image

 

We often spend much time preparing for camp, and praying for our children while they are away at camp. But some of the best fruit from camp can be cultivated best by parents after camp.

Here are some simple tips on helping your son or daughter return home from camp well. My suggestion is that you pay attention and pick and choose from this list as you seek to maximize the positive spiritual impact of this outstanding journey at camp.

  1. Listen attentively. It is inevitable your son or daughter will return home tired. For some the fatigue makes them excited and talkative, for others it leads to grumpiness and silence. Be sensitive to trying to drag out too much information on the ride home. Pace the feedback. The next best activity for your son or daughter may be rest.
  1. Filter your questions. Let your student guide the conversation. Pay attention to what they are saying, and also to what they are not saying. Look and listen for a few key nuggets.
  1. Offer them their favorite meal. Though camp food might be good [or it might not], your child is likely longing for something to eat that is familiar and substantial. A meal is a great place for the family to listen to their stories.
  1. Temper your expectations. Parents may be hoping for a significant life change, but it’s likely not to show up all at once. Try not to communicate unrealistic expectations about spiritual life change, but rather applaud any movement toward spiritual sensitivity and growth. Ask in your own words, “What do you think God was teaching you at camp?”
  1. Remember the [pre] adolescent journey. By definition, pre-teens and adolescents are very self-focused and most of their experience at camp will be defined through the filter of “me.” Use this as an opportunity to affirm their journey of self-discovery and the unique identity you sense God is helping them grasp. Avoid exasperating [Ephesians 6:4] them with a sharp critique of their “selfishness.”
  1. Ask about friends. It is almost impossible for a developing adolescent to separate their relationship with God from their relationship with friends. Teenagers grow in Christ in groups. Who did you hang out with? Did you make any new friends? When will you see them again? It is likely there will also be some drama between friends to report. Hopefully you can guide them to not let this push them away from friends or the group. Or maybe you may walk them through changing friends due to new spiritual convictions gained at camp. If you have a high school student they will most likely want to go hang out with camp friends as soon as possible.
  1. Look at pictures. Having your son or daughter show you their pictures, even if just the big camp photo, is a great way for them to share their memories and experiences. Have them point out friends and adult leaders they enjoyed.
  1. Explore themes. Ask your son or daughter to tell you what the speaker, cabin times, and devotions were about. Keep it simple and look for or guide them into articulating one key lesson they grabbed from the week. Gently guide them to express a couple ideas they might want to act on in practical ways in the coming weeks. Ask what they want to change as a result of being at camp [in their relationships, in their family, in their beliefs, in their habits]. Don’t pry too much since these changes may be something they would rather share with their friends, small group, or other adult leaders.
  1. Affirm your support. Be very positive about their experience at camp and affirm your ongoing support of their relationship with God. This time at camp can be powerful but it is also one smaller part of a bigger and longer journey in their emotional, physical and spiritual development. Your child needs a fan that is cheering them on as they grow up.
  1. Keep them connected. An experience at camp is often times a launching pad for new friendships within the youth group at church. Maximize the partnership between you as a parent and the youth group leadership. Be sure to find a way to thank your child’s cabin leader. Do the extra work to help them get to a weekend worship gathering and the next meeting of the youth group. For those with a Junior High or High School student, encourage getting plugged into a smaller discipleship group. The older your student gets the more strategic support from the church gets.
  1. Model an intimate relationship of trust with Jesus. Your [pre] adolescent is looking to see what a relationship with Jesus looks like. They possess a keen radar system that sniffs out hypocrisy. They will be looking to see if you have an honest faith that trusts Jesus with daily life. Be the kind of person you want your child to become. Model love and grace, an intimate relationship with God, involvement with other believers, and a servant lifestyle.

What additional tips would you add from your experience as a parent?