How Is Your Connection?

Life is hard. There are times we feel alone, discouraged, unloved, ugly and the list
can go on forever until we fully rely on the One who made us and sustains us. 

Picture a box with four corners. This box helps us understand the connection cycle we go through in life. Dr. Henry Cloud spoke about this at this year's Global Leadership Summit. 

In the first corner we are all alone and rely on ourselves. We can isolate ourselves from the world around us and hope that we are enough on our own. We have no connection. The second corner has us looking for approval from someone or something else but our own self-doubt will not allow us to believe that we can find happiness here. It is that small voice that replays all the bad comments and fake truths we believe about ourselves and that causes us to retreat back to the first box. This is a bad connection because we are always left feeling bad about who we are.

Do you find you cannot believe what others say about you because off the years of self-doubt that has built up in your life?

The third corner is our quick hit of happiness from our own coping mechanisms. This corner will look different for most people. It could be found in that great cup of coffee, or that chocolate bar hidden in your desk drawer for those extra stressful moments. It could also be those hours of playing mindless games on our phones as we let the world drift away from our consciousness. The key is that happiness is only available for brief fleeting moments in this corner and that happiness time we experience shrinks down as our coping mechanisms begin to lose their effectiveness. Our connection is fake and will not be sustainable.

The last corner is true connection. It is a connection with our God that acknowledges that He is our source of happiness and strength.  This corner is scary because it requires true vulnerability and trust. This level of connection ads value to life and allows for a true connection and a way to move forward.

I shared this connection cycle with the camp because it is not just a great way to look at ourselves, but it is essential for everyone as they look at their friendships and the teams they need to work with on a daily basis. 

The one who comes from above is above everything. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks like someone from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above everything.
— John 3:31 NIrV

I shared this connection cycle with the camp because it is not just a great way to look at ourselves, but it is essential for everyone as they look at their friendships and the teams they need to work with on a daily basis. As we continually seek to have our identity be found in Christ and not the world around us we struggle with the tensions of living in the culture we do and trying to live out our faith everyday.  We get caught up in what the culture around us wants to be and our own shortcomings replay in our minds and it keeps us doubting how God could love us. We all have days we want to forget and we all have days where we feel so small and insignificant that we get lost in who we are in the eyes of Christ.

I shared the story of Job at camp and how we went so far as to say that he wished the day of his birth would be erased from the calendar. 

After a while, Job opened his mouth to speak. He cursed the day he had been born. He said,

“May the day I was born be wiped out.
May the night be wiped away when people said, ‘A boy is born!’
May that day turn into darkness.
May God in heaven not care about it.
May no light shine on it...

I don’t have any peace and quiet.
I can’t find any rest. All I have is trouble.
— Job 3:1-4;

I think we all can relate to getting bogged down on life when things begin to swirl out of control. We thrive on having control of our lives but we forget that when we rely on our true connection with Christ his plan for our life is where we need to place our trust. God responds to Job and asks him to reflect on all the ways that He is in control. I asked the students to think about how they can all ow God to take control of their life in greater ways as they seek to live a life rooted in Christ. 

Let the peace that Christ gives rule in your hearts. As parts of one body, you were appointed to live in peace. And be thankful. Let the message about Christ live among you like a rich treasure. Teach and correct one another wisely. Teach one another by singing psalms and hymns and songs from the Spirit. Sing to God with thanks in your hearts. Do everything you say or do in the name of the Lord Jesus. Always give thanks to God the Father through Christ.
— Colossians3:15-17 NIrV

Questions to think about:

  • What challenges are you facing now that are transforming your character to be more like Christ's?
  • Where do you see God's plan working in your current circumstances?
  • What corner of the box (found above) are you currently spending the majority of your time?
  • How do you respond to the idea that God wants a relationship with you?
  • This week take time to thank God for the opportunities you have to become more
  • Take time to read Romans 5 this week. 

Challenging Students To Do More This Year: Part 2

Another session up at camp focused on how important our words are when it comes to navigating the tension between living in the world we do and living out the faith we believe in. the culture around our students is not a culture that is screaming Biblical truth at them so we need to prepare and challenge our students to live a life that is motivated by the good news of the Gospel and allows them to share their faith through how they interact with the culture and media they are bombarded with everyday. 

I posted on this at length here: Pop Culture Christians.

Their faith plays out in their lives everyday even when they do not think about it. Their faith and worlview shows up in the posts on Facebook, how they form stories for Snapchat and how they discuss the latest movie plot. What I challenged the students on last week was whether or not their faith was evident in how they interacted on social media and how they talked about the media they are immersed in. If they were going to ask their friends the question,

"What motivates me to live my life the way I do? 

how would their friends respond. Would they respond with characteristics and attributes that exemplified Christ, or the culture they are surrounded by.

I asked them to think about five words they would want to be known by and then to begin to live out those values everyday. I also gave these questions for them to discuss in their cabins.

  • What values are most important to you?
  • Why is it important to know what the Bible says in order to engage culture?
  • If you were to make a pie chart about what takes up the most of your time, what would be in the biggest slice? TV? Internet? Snapchat? Friends?
  • What worldviews are shown through the media you see
  • How do those worldviews differ from a Biblical worldview?
  • What are the 5 words that you want to be known by?

Here are some other verses to take a look at:

  • PSALM 115
  • GALATIANS 5: 1-22
  • 1 PETER 1:13-15
  • EPHESIANS 4:14-16
  • PHILIPPIANS 2:12-18
  • COLOSSIANS 3:1-5

How do you talk to your students about living out their faith among the culture and worldview that is presented to them through the media?

Challenging Students To Do More This Year

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to head up Muskoka way to speak to a group of students and staff for their last week of the camp season. The central theme that ran through the week was that they, the students, had an amazing opportunity this year to do more with the gifts and talents that God has blessed them with. I challenged them to think of ways that God could speak into their lives and how they could be attentive to the Holy Spirit's promptings to share their faith with others. 

The first challenge for the students is to think through what their gifts and talents God has given them and then to think through how they can use those talents to share their faith this upcoming year. I asked them if they believed that God is bigger than they could imagine and if they believed that God could use those same gifts and talents He placed within them to glorify how great He is. I asked them if they were willing to step out and use their gifts to glorify God in new ways this year. 

Discovering your dream is easier said than done. There is so much pressure to dream and become “certain” things in this world and as a result so many people struggle to discover who they really are. God has designed every one of us in a unique one-of-a-kind way. Perhaps it’s time to consider your dream, instead of the dreams others tell you that you should have. Maybe now is the time to consider who God has created you to be because only you can be you! God can give you a dream this week! 

They questions I gave to cabin leaders were: 

  • How would you define creativity?
  • What are you most passionate about?
  • How can you use what you are passionate about to change the world around you?
  • If you were asked the same question by Jesus as Bartimaeus how would you respond? (“What do you want me to do for you?")
  • What truths about God are mentioned in Colossians 1:15-20? If those statements ae true, how do they make you feel and what are the implications of those truths?
  • What is the goal you are setting for this year regarding sharing your faith? What can you be praying to God about this week as you look to set your goal? 

I made the last challenge into a #hashtag challenge and created a specific tag for the week. You can do this for your group so they can share what their dreams are for this year. this will help create accountability among your own students.

How are you challenging your students this year to take steps of faith and to live out their faith everyday?