Swiftwater Journey

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

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
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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: Adolescence,Parenting,Youth Ministry — billmacphee @ 1:25 pm
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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?

 

Jesus walked on my campus November 26, 2011

I fell off a 70 foot cliff while serving as a volunteer in a mountaineering class at San Carlos High School. I’ve decided to celebrate the friends who saved my life by writing some posts about the experience. I do not pass a single day without reflecting on November 16, 1981 and the courage it took for my friends to make decisions and take action that spared my life.

You can read part one here: the best job I could imagine – November 16, 1981. You can read all posts related to my mountaineering accident by searching the Categories for Accident.

 

Part Two: Jesus Walked on My Campus … and his name was John.

In addition to teaching outdoor skills to students, John Woodhall served as the head football coach at the San Carlos High School. John is by nature a gentle man, but demonstrated his capacity for strong leadership at practice and on the sidelines. Though he rarely raised his voice, he could get a linebacker’s attention when needed. John was strong, focused, disciplined, and deeply loved his students. His strength and care emerged out of a heart deeply transformed by the grace and compassion of Jesus Christ. I am not exaggerating when I say that John seemed to me to be the embodiment of Jesus walking about his campus. Kids loved and flocked to him. Students wanted to be near him and touch him. John made himself freely accessible to kids–all kind of kids. This is what set John Woodhall apart. He loved and cared for all kinds of students. Not just the strong athletes, or the Christian kids who mirrored his spiritual values. Every person found it possible to easily slide into his span of gentle care. This was especially true of the kids who desperately needed a mountaineering class to keep them engaged in the relentless and unforgiving grind of public high school.

I met John through the Student Ministries family at Peninsula Covenant Church in Redwood City, CA. The church has a long legacy of quality leaders in ministry to adolescents, including not only professional staff, but maybe more importantly, gifted and called volunteers. I tried to be sensitive to John’s schedule–as a teacher/coach his life was full. Add his deep commitment to his family and it continued to amaze me that he made himself available as a trustworthy volunteer youthworker at PCC. Through John’s faithfulness in ministry to students both at church and school, I came to be his friend and co-worker. In some ways, we had a reciprocal friendship–he served as a volunteer in the ministry I supervised, and I served as a volunteer in the classes he supervised. John’s involvement with students through church became a natural extension of his growing relationships with teenager’s all over our community. John would often invite students at school to join him at our weekly high school gathering. My involvement with John and outdoor mountaineering trips was a natural extension of the ministry I was carving out through the church. Our joint ministry was externally and outreach oriented–we kept the trajectory of our main weekly gathering on the widest range of students, especially those not likely to come inside a church building. In retrospect, the students enrolled in the San Carlos High School Mountaineering Courses were blessed and fortunate. They gained intimate access to a grace-filled teacher in John, and by extension, received the mentoring of caring adults whom John invited to help lead the “Field Study Projects.” As I reflect on my experience, I could not have been happier. I had boundless energy, considered it my calling to be with adults and students in ministry, and was invited to make my second office the mountains of California.

More to come …

 

The best job I could imagine – November 16, 1981 November 16, 2011

Today marks the 30th anniversary since I was rescued in the Ventana Wilderness area, some thirty miles south of Big Sur, California.

I fell off a 70 foot cliff while serving as a volunteer in a mountaineering class at San Carlos High School.

I’ve decided to celebrate the friends who saved my life by writing some posts about the experience. I do not pass a single day without reflecting on November 16, 1981 and the courage it took for my friends to make decisions and take action that spared my life. I also freely admit that human effort and courage can not fully explain my survival from the fall and the 18 hour ordeal till I was plucked out by helicopter and transported to the nearest hospital. I am alive, I believe, by the grace and choosing of God. Every day and every step is a gift not taken for granted.

I intend to write briefly about the experience and the lessons learned. I won’t take too much time refining my words, so apologies in advance for poor sentence structure, or disjointed paragraphs. I’m just going to get the stuff that I have spent years talking with others about into written form. I’m writing mostly for me, but I know some of these posts will strike a chord for someone else and prove helpful.

In 1980, I graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary and began as an energetic youth pastor at Peninsula Covenant Church in Redwood City, CA. One of the best parts of the ministry I was privileged to engage was to help out my friend, John Woodhall, as he taught several Mountaineering courses at San Carlos High School. Students learned basic mountaineering skills in the class room and then took their Mid term and Final exams, affectionately called “Field Study Projects,” in the wild. I participated in many projects and thoroughly enjoyed the treat of hanging with kids in the beautiful outdoors. I loved camping, backpacking, rock climbing, and sleeping under the stars. I couldn’t imagine a better job–getting paid to explore the woods with high energy, risk-taking, adventurous kids, and my good buddy John.

The only challenge of this particular weekend mid term was the torrential down pour of rain. I love to sleep outside, but I hate to sleep in the rain. Especially when the students were responsible for our rain shelters.

More to come …

You can read all posts related to my mountaineering accident by searching the Categories for Accident.

 

Broken in the right places March 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — billmacphee @ 9:25 pm
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I have countless x-rays of my feet, my face, and my femur. I have never considered them from this beautiful perspective.

Learn more at: http://www.potsc.com/

 

VCS Mexicali Team Emergency Plan 2011 March 2, 2011

Filed under: education,Missions,Parenting,Youth Ministry — billmacphee @ 12:52 pm

Momentum is building as we anticipate our service in Mexicali over Easter Break. Attached you will find our emergency communication plan. Let me know if you have questions or comments.

vcs mexicali emergency plan 2011

 

Middle school is when the right friends may matter most | Media Relations February 8, 2011

Filed under: Adolescence,Parenting — billmacphee @ 5:21 pm
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Researchers at the University of Oregon may be on to something middle school teachers and parents need to focus on – the shifting friendships happening as their fifth graders move into the sixth grade. Read the full article here:

Middle school is when the right friends may matter most | Media Relations.

  • As the early adolescent moves from one teacher to multiple teachers and classrooms, his or her social radar gets finely tuned into a plethora of new friendship possibilities. This is just the place where new friendships begin to blossom, for good or for not.
  • One of the profound conclusions is that young students who engage in friendships that are “pro-social,” [meaning that they are socially active friendships that respect rules and enjoy activities planned and monitored by caring, attentive adults], do better academically in high school and are better adjusted into their early twenties.
  • Academics are a vital focus during middle school but teachers and parents need to pay specific attention to the development of healthy, positive, social friendships among their children and students. Know your children, know their friends, and meet their friends parents.
  • Parents are wise to plan and support wholesome activities and establish clear behavior boundaries, while monitoring compliance and holding to consequences for misbehavior.
  • Parents, teachers, and youth workers will wisely collaborate and communicate about the friendships developing in their sphere of influence. Intervention is appropriate when friendship bonds lead to a sudden increase in rebellion and rule breaking.