“I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot . . . and missed. And I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why . . . I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

How do you respond to failure? Does it leave you defeated? Or does it propel you forward with new knowledge and skills, better equipped to accomplish the task God has put before you, to chase the dream He’s planted in your heart?

An End. A Beginning. Or Something In Between.

Yesterday was officially my last day on staff at The CORE. I don’t want to let the day go by without a post, but I’ll be honest…words will fail to sum up the myriad of emotions going on inside my head and heart right now.

As I only begin to look back and reflect on the last two years one major thing jumps out at me. It is that one thing that will ultimately define my time at The CORE, my time in Appleton,WI, and the ministry that was my life the last two years. That one thing is relationships. At the end of the day, when I look back, when I look for lessons to take away, when I stumble upon memories that make me both laugh and cry, at the center of it all I find people. The relationships I have developed here are the reason I will always have a root that is planted in Appleton. And the way in which God orchestrated and used those relationships to teach me lessons and to pull me closer to Him leaves me in awe of Him once again.

For me it’s a great reminder that it really all does boil down to God’s simple command: Love Him, love others. When we take the time to dig down through the messy layers that the machine of ministry can sometimes pile on, I hope and pray we discover that loving God and loving others is really why we got into ministry in the first place.

In the days ahead there is definitely going to be some processing of a huge chapter of my life closing. But there will also be plenty of dreaming about the new chapter that is just beginning. And somewhere in between is today.

Photo Friday Take 1

Photography is something that inspires me. Don’t get me wrong, I love motion and video but there is something unique and magical to me about the ability to capture a single moment in time. I could spend hours browsing the Creative Commons materials on Flickr looking for inspiration. So, I decided I would do something with that time and share some of what I find here on Fridays.

This week: Old School Visual Worship

found: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcaven/3747225510/

found: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcaven/3758713640/
LOVE the architecture in this one!


Note: Going to try something new and start an ongoing series of “Ponder” posts. Short, simple, with the hope to make us pause and think.

“The impact God has planned for us doesn’t occur when we’re pursuing impact.
It occurs when we’re pursuing God.”
– Phil Vischer

I’ve done (and continue to do) some readjustment of my focus lately. What are you pursuing today? Does your pursuit need a realignment?

Enhancing the Gospel

“We are just looking for the best way to enhance the Gospel,” or “Our goal is to enhance the Gospel.” I hear phrases like that thrown around a lot, especially in creative avenues of the church. Be it anything from a song, to a media piece, to a well designed print piece, it seems we like the justify our creative effort with the noble mission of “enhancing the Gospel.”

I’ll be honest, I’ve used the phrase. But, the more I hear it the more something about it just doesn’t sit right with me. Using the word “enhance” makes it seem as though we think the Gospel is insufficient or ineffective on it’s own, or that it’s just not quite good enough. Personally, I think the Gospel works in spite of us and the way we communicate its message.

Now I’m not convinced that the above is really what we mean when we use phrases like “to enhance the Gospel.” But, I think if we’re not careful, very quickly the words we use to describe what we’re doing will become the focus of what we’re doing. Meaning, even if we don’t believe we can enhance the Gospel but we continue to use that wording we will eventually get to the point where at least part of us believes that is indeed what we are doing through our creative efforts.

What are your thoughts? Do you use similar wording? WHY or WHY not? If anyone who uses that phrase regularly and has a reason as to WHY I would love to hear it! I’m not condemning its use, but rather seeking to understand.

I’ve been looking for alternatives to use instead, and…well…I haven’t come up with anything that I really like. At the end of the day, my goal is to intentionally communicate the Gospel – pure and simple. Sometimes it’s in a new or different way. Sometimes it’s an “age old method.” Sometimes it’s very literal, sometimes more mysterious. But no matter the WHAT, I always strive to be intentional with the WHY.

I don’t know, maybe we don’t need a hip phrase to describe what we’re doing? Maybe we can just call it what it is? Clearly, this is something I’m still wrestling with in my head and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

One Size Fits All

If you think about the idea of “one size fits all” it’s quite laughable. I’m talking about “one size fits all” in regards to our roles and responsibilities in life and in the Church. In fact, not only is it laughable but it’s contrary to Scripture which tells us over and over again that we are separate parts of one body designed to play unique roles; parts that need one another. So, my question then becomes, why does it seem that so often in the church we communicate the message that one size does and should fit all, that our lives should all follow the same pattern?

I’ve spent the better part of my life believing this myth. Now I’ll admit, it was and is something that I have personal control over. I can chose to listen to the myth or to look at Scripture and listen to it. But, that doesn’t make the myth okay. And that doesn’t mean we should go on communicating, intentionally or not, that myth as the Church.

Let me explain a bit what I mean. When I graduation from college and decided not to become a teacher to work in the church after spending 5 years studying Education and getting my State teaching license, people thought I was crazy. Fast forward two years and I’m again doing something that most people have told me is crazy. I’m leaving my job – one that many would consider a “dream job.” I’m moving. And I haven’t really a clue what I’m going to do and have just recently decided that I think I know where I’m going to move to but even that is still kind of up in the air. Most people I have shared my story with think that I am absolutely insane.

Why do they think I’m crazy? They think I’m crazy because I’m 25 and I have no intention to “settle down” or “lay down roots” anytime soon. (Side note: I think you can “lay down roots” without being tied to one geographical location) They think I’m crazy because I don’t have getting married and starting a family at the very top of my immediate priority list. Nor do I have a laser focused career I’m pursuing or a ladder I’m looking to climb. (Side note #2 – You can tell the path people think you should be following by the questions they ask) And I’ll admit that there are times when I have to stop myself because I’m thinking they’re crazy for wanting all of those things right now that I don’t.

But the truth is God uses all sorts in His Kingdom. If we were all nomadic and laid down roots as we traveled the world engaging in relationships with friends and missions around the globe the local church would struggle. And if we all wanted to settle down and stay put the global church would struggle.

My encouragement to you (and to myself) is this: Live the role God has given you intentionally and with purpose. Embrace it even if others think it is crazy. Seek to use your unique role and gifts not to separate yourself but to bring people together for the Kingdom.

And my encouragement to the Church (and to myself as part of the Church): May we learn to embrace the different roles God has created for His people. Let’s seek to build relationships with those who live different roles that together God can use us to do amazing things for His Kingdom.