Mt. Rushmore Here we Come… RoadTrip Revival #2

Too much fun to share with just words…. so here is what it all looked and sounded like this summer!

Stay tuned for more 🙂

Road Trip Revival – First stage… LAUNCH!

So… packing up for six, rounding up maps and distance projections, budgets for food and gas, lodging, and other stuff… it’s a chore to think a road-trip like this all the way through. Going almost seven thousand miles round trip is a journey, more pilgrimage than impulse… so it’s especially important to plan ahead.

Summer travel means tourists.

Tourists and the American west are synonymous.

This makes booking rooms in hotels along your route most strategic 🙂

We learned quickly that we would have to look ahead, plan our destination each morning and call ahead to confirm rooms as soon as we could each morning for us to have a chance at a decent (clean, non-bed bug infested, WI-FI enabled etc..) room that evening.

After confirming the vitals… we could focus on specific road routes, plan excursions and other touristy stuff after we knew for ‘sure’ where we would be sleeping. For parents and families, room arrangements are not as ‘critical’, modesty and privacy are much less important considerations… but for us, it was! Four girls, two boys and we would have to be careful to get two rooms with sleeping space for each of us.

Road Trip Revival

Road Trip Revival

That said… if you plan your travel and confirm the essentials, everyone can relax and enjoy the journey without the added stress of ‘finding’ hotel rooms at midnight… especially in the American North West as towns and options become very limited and VERY far apart! By saying ‘very’ I mean hundreds of miles sometimes in-between 🙂

A note on long haul vehicles … recommend highly a large SUV or Van. We rented an eight passenger, extended length Ford Expedition that worked fantastic! Unlimited mileage, brand new and state of the art features were wonderful, and all for about $700/week! It was a good option for us. (Courtesy of AVIS). If you already have such a grand ride, then use it for sure! Space is at a premium for a large group, so we limited luggage to 2 suitcases and it worked great. Everyone brought an additional personal backpack along with a pillow/blanket combo for travel comfort and entertainment.

Clothing... knowing we would be travelling from one extreme to another, we asked our road-trippers to bring a couple of layers of clothes, including a light jacket and sweatshirt/hoodie. Leaving in late July we had 100+F temps and high humidity, but heading for the mountains of Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington… we knew things would get dry and cool before we got back. (Little did we know “how cool” it would get, but that’s for a later post 🙂

Food… okay, food is always a bit dicey. EVERYONE has their favorite, and EVERYONE has their most -unliked. My solution was to give each tween-teen a travel stipend for buying their own snacks along the way. That way we could all have what we liked and the pressure to find the ‘perfect’ snacks evaporated like dew in the desert 🙂 Woo-HOO! Problem solved and suddenly… we were just about ready to roll!

The gang... day one! Road Trip Revival

The gang… day one! Road Trip Revival

One more thing… as you prepare to launch any Epic Road Trip, be aware that God is in the mix. Prepare your road-trippers to experience God as you go. Simply put… give them a chance to ‘hear’ and ‘see’ God in the sights and sounds ahead. The way I did that ? I got everyone a simple notepad / journal to write down and or collect their thoughts. Even if no one takes the time to write stuff down… you’re creating the ‘context’ for each one to expect to hear from God.

That expectation is a crucial part of any road-trip. It allows the Holy Spirit to move and breathe, to instruct and encourage, to change our kids hearts from the extraordinary experiences they are sure to have.

So… NOW we’re ready to LAUNCH!

Load in 1pm. Missouri here we come…

Roadtripping Revival – A Summer to remember

The stats are EPIC. 

12,400 miles… five weekends, in six national parks…stretched out over 30 states with over a dozen people in tow. Americana on display as we worked our way across 2 lane, country road and interstate highway. Merrily bumping along in a 12 passenger van, 14 bunk Prevo bus, and luxe Ford Expedition from one weekend to another. Performing in the bible-belt, eastern seaboard, across New England and into the upper Midwest…finally ending the wandering in Washington state. Then…  we jumped back in and drove all the way back to Nashville 🙂

EPIC! 

The sights and sounds were thousands of pictures long… and the experiences as diverse as the landscapes we crossed, but all of them were strategic and superb! It’s always amazing to see how much we change when we make the space for personal reflection and deeper relationship, it’s like a part of us is suddenly re-discovered.

When we invite God into that roadtrip mix… it’s sure to exceed all expectations

Over the next few days and weeks, I’m going to share some glimpses (behind the scenes, beautiful, funny- awkward moments) of how this summer changed me and those I traveled with.

If you’re seeking a bit of encouragement or just want to live vicariously through us… your are most welcome to join in the journey and come along. It’s gonna be fun… a roadtrip revival! #ishineontheroad

Summer Tour 2015

Summer Tour 2015

Peace out,

Pastor B.

Darkest before the dawn…

I’m an early riser.

Love the stillness of pre-dawn. Somehow its serene and special to me, like a secret moment to explore before anyone else. It’s also usually incredibly cold before sunrise, colder than at any other time of the night. Darkness is complete, with moonlight faded to black and only twinkling starlight distant in the heavens.

It’s ALWAYS “darkest before the dawn” – so cliché’, but true. 

Taking our cue from the testament of natures cycle, we can apply this truth to our spiritual lives. Seasons of our life can be dark, full of turmoil and testing. We might ‘feel’ lost, unable to sense or see the path forward, groping in the darkness of uncertainty and fear.

indiwall.com

indiwall.com

Sometimes our loving Father will allow us to struggle through the ‘night’, watching as we grow and mature in our faith. Knowing what’s truly best for us, He loves us enough to give us the space to wrestle with our beliefs. To determine on our own what we’re going to place our faith in.

As a parent, we can do the right things faithfully and feel like nothing is changing in our kid’s. The pattern seems fixed and nothing we’re doing is ‘right. It’s so frustrating and discouraging. It’s in those moments we are most tempted to given in to doubt and discouragement. Don’t!

Dawn is almost upon us. Light is breaking in the eastern skyline of your life! 

God is not absent, He is not unaware of your need. God is moving even now to answer your deepest heart-cry and to finish the good work He started. No matter what you ‘feel’ or ‘sense’, never – ever – let go of your hope in God to make ALL THINGS NEW!

Hang tight, dear-heart! God is near… light is about to burst in the darkness and release you from the fear ! It’s when we trust what we can’t see that Faith grows… it’s when we do what we know is ‘right’ and true, despite the lack of results in our life… that we become like Christ. Dawn_Over_New_Zealand

Sometimes we just need a word of encouragement to stay the course one – more – day…

Love you ! Pastor B.

Key Passage: Galatians 6:7-9 (ESV) Source: Bible Gateway

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

 

 

2014! Year of the Selfie !

Can’t help but laugh every time I see a selfie on social media. Almost without exception there is a slight lip pucker on the face of whoever just shared their own photo-portrait. It’s like a subconscious personality quirk that’s become the national ‘norm’ for teens and tweens, freely shared millions of times a day. National media icon’s like Kim and Bieb’s are training an entire generation of tweens and teens to just ‘put themselves out there”.

Kim K -courtesy of the New Yorker

Kim K -courtesy of the New Yorker

National statistics on social media photo sharing are growing so fast it’s impossible to keep up. 100’s of millions of personal pics are flooding instagram, twitter, pinterest and facebook…not to mention the videos on snap chat, the numbers are enormous and growing. So much so 2014 has been declared the year of the selfie.

For parents in this emerging digital age, the selfie is a rite of passage that pre-teens take to like bees to honey. Kids are naturally impulsive, self focused and all about attention, affirmation and love. The use of an engineering marvel like the smart phone is almost exclusively dedicated to personal pics, posts and of course… ‘selfie’s.

Parents are beginning to notice the affect the selfie may be having on their children as they enter the adolescent years. The need to exhibit themselves, to show what they are wearing, newest hairstyle or latest fashion coup, may be stunting our collective social and emotional maturity…not to mention the erosion of concepts like modesty, self-control and personal sacrifice.

If your wondering if I’m going a bit judgmental on a little photo fun… I understand. So I dare you, just google ‘selfie“. Look under ‘images’. Ok, see what I mean? Notice the absence of proper clothing….YIKES!

Selfies are becoming more than a unique statement of who we are…. they are morphing into a desperate cry for approval, love and affirmation – at almost any cost from almost anyone but us. 

I’m not being a downer here, simply observing what is and making some educated guesses as to the how and what  of it all ! How societal trends are subtly nudging our kids away from the principles of our faith. It’s time for us to consider how we need to adapt our role as parents of tweens, struggling already with the normal –coming of age -drama of adolescence and family. 06e1ec9

These modern, mobile, wonder devices are changing society and the emotional-spiritual development of our kids in new and unique ways. It’s important for us to be aware and interactive with our kids about technology as they make the transition from kid to young adult. 

Bieber, courtesy of Huffington Post

Bieber, courtesy of Huffington Post

So… next time you see a family selfie float into the cloud, remember to check in with your tween. Ask them about their value, identity and purpose… remind them they are more than a great pic in the social media tapestry of life.

They have unique and irreplaceable value to you, their family and to God.

Redirect their adolescent grip on narcissism to expand to the needs and concerns of those living around them… help them see the world is so much bigger than just ‘them.

As Christians, we have counter-cultural values and beliefs. Ideas like, “those who lose their lives will find it and “I’ve come to serve and to give my life away’ – we know the bible, we can quote it… but if our kids don’t learn to use their faith as a real-life filter, we’re allowing society to train them.

Something to think about.

Pastor B.

PS – would love to hear other parents ideas and thoughts on this one… lots of smart families already sorting these things out. Time to share with the rest of us 🙂

 

Stop Apologizing

I find myself “apologizing” for all kinds of random stuff.

I apologize…

For irritating my teenagers when I ask them to get off their smart phone and do the dishes.

For asking for help.

For speaking the truth in a posture of love.

For going back to exchange the right item for my drive-through order.

For being offended by an overtly sinful act or image.

For opening the door for a lady I don’t know.

For praying before a meal at a restaurant.

For not being as passionate about political issues as my friends.

For not praying enough and for feeling like I’m ‘bothering’ God when I do pray.

It seems I apologize frequently.

A sort of social knee-jerk for me when I sense any potential for imminent conflict or uncomfortable tension in a circumstance or relationship.

As modern, culturally conditioned parents and Christians, we’re taught to be über sensitive to others. To do our best to avoid being rude, offensive and presumptuous with our faith or beliefs. As a result I and We often take the ‘high’ road of avoidance in an effort to simply reduce the stress on our own lives. That ‘appears’ to be the right thing…until you really think it through.

uheart.wordpress.com

uheart.wordpress.com

As Parents… we’re called to lead. As Christians we’re called to be distinct in our world, “light” in the dark and “salt”for flavoring ? 

What happens if we simply fade back into the word-work and allow other more vocal and angry folks to paint the context for Christianity or Culture without our voices? What if we refuse to risk rejection in a vain attempt to be conciliatory and safe?

As I study – grow and learn from scripture, I’m captured by the boldness of men and women of Faith. Those who threw off the social ‘norms’ and status quo to embrace a new way of living from an emerging gospel that brought truth and clarity to the lost and confused.

A Pilgrims path of understanding and reconciliation that included openly confessing their beliefs in the Cross of Christ and sharing with others of the ways in which His gift of forgiveness had released them from enduring a life of captivity & shame.

The emphasis in the early church* was of a passionate compulsion to reach out to others, to share, to rescue and to love, not to pull back in restraint and apathetic – distant – contemplation.

God help us to be ‘bold’ and “loving’ followers of Jesus, clearing our minds and hearts from the self-imposed ‘shame’ of an apologetic gospel. Following Christ may cause some confrontations from time to time, but in the end… if we’re motivated by love, it can only heal, restore and redeem those who it touches. Help us to be your ‘hands and feet‘ to a world that continues to spiral out of control.

Parents, lead on!

Oh, and fellow believers….let’s stop apologizing for the clarity that comes from living for and in Christ.

Pastor B.

*for reference, check out the Apostle Paul’s’ letter to the Colossians and Philemon in the New Testament. (Source – BibleGateway)

 

Polite but Deadly

As Christians we have a unique culture of being “polite”.

Ever courteous, careful and considerate, we strive to be tactful and often it seems, we avoid at all costs the discussions or considerations that might be uncomfortable. So we take a very safe but selfish path… we avoid stuff. We cling to our politeness in an effort to justify our shame and shove more of our messed up world under the rug, hoping someone- someday will come along and  fix things.

Polite for sure… but deadly just the same.  

I believe truth matters. Phil_Robertson_Duck_Dynasty-618x400

Living in a PC world, it’s easy to shrink back from defending or proclaiming truth… especially if it’s unpopular.

Living in a Duck Dynasty world, it’s even easier to justify our decision to try to just fit in and be quiet. It makes a whole lotta sense to be careful in what we say, and avoid being mistaken as a hateful bigot or a right-wing  fanatic. Both a serious risk if we dare to speak out and let our Christian values be heard.

But herein lies the problem. The truth of Christ really is offensive. 

If we as “followers” of Jesus Christ are going to have a voice in our culture and our communities, we must move into more uncomfortable territory. We will need to take a stand on the essentials of our faith and quit apologizing for our biblical beliefs.

That doesn’t justify being a jerk or self-righteous idiot, moving past politeness… we need to claim some  “middle” ground culturally. To learn how to authentically act like the people of faith we are, without compromise and without intolerance of others.

The zealous Christians of past generations may have seriously over-emphasized the “truth” part of Christ’s gospel, and way under-stated the “Love” part… leading to a “gospel-shy whiplash effect” for modern believers to try to shake off, but that doesn’t mean we have to repeat their mistakes. church

What if we could live from a heart of genuine love and respect for others, treating them with kindness regardless of their agreement with our beliefs ?

What if that love “compelled” us to share the ridiculous truth of Christ with those who truly needed to know, without picking a political party to defend?  

Ask God to show you when and where to take some personal risks with this. When he nudges you… obey and see what happens. The truth spoken in gentleness and love has a huge influence on those who only see Christians as either fake or fruitcake.

This is especially true of our kids…

Pastor B.

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18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1 Corinthians 1:18-26 (ESV) Biblegateway.com – source