Live Life On A Mission Trip

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Last week we had around 60 volunteers from our church, Texas A&M, UT Dallas, and Lamar University come together and run the sports camp that our church puts on every Spring Break called Champs Camp. They did a great job, and the camp went so well! This is also spring break mission trip month. Youth and college groups from around the country go around the world for a week to serve others an spread the name of Jesus in thousands of different ways. I think this is a great thing, but it left me wondering why we spend this week going hard, worshiping through work, meeting others, and enjoying ourselves, only to go back and just live on the memories until the next trip. We have the opportunity to serve this way all the time. We have the opportunity to treat our life like a mission trip.

  1. We can work hard. During Mission Trip Week we generally get up way earlier than normal. And that’s ok. We’ve got a lot of stuff to do. When we’re done though? We go back to getting up when we have to, and trudging through. What if we were to treat a normal week like mission trip week and get up early and get ourselves ready to be productive for the whole day? Even when we know we have a long day and late night ahead of us. During the day? Go. Hard. Do what you’re doing to the fullest extent you know how. When you’re done with something? Find something else to do.
  2. We need to rest. All that working hard will take it out of you. Make sure you build two or three times to just rest throughout your day. Just sit and be. Maybe steal a 10 minute nap. Seriously. It will help you make it through the day. When you’re “work” is done? Grab 30-45 minutes to yourself (Yes, even those of you who have kids. You’ll find yourself better equipped ti handle them with some rest in you). And go to bed as early as you possibly can. Also? Take a Sabbath. You’re not better than God. You need rest. Build it into your life.
  3. Play. Usually on theses trips there’s “fun” stuff in the evenings, and maybe even a full day of fun or tourism. And that’s great. We should play. We should have fun with our family and friends. Make sure you’re taking time out to experience life with others. Go out to eat. Cook a meal with friends. Go bowling. Go to a park. Get out. Do something. Have fun. Play.
  4. Worship. Worship with others corporately. Sing, learn what God’s word has to say. But worship in your play, and your rest, and your work. DO those things in a way that glorifies God. He created us to bring glory to Him in all that we do. So find out what that looks like in your day to day in addition to your once a week or so.
  5. Lastly. Stories. Share stories. Listen to stories. I don’t know what it is about mission trip week that makes us so open to this, but we love it. We love to hear about what is going on with the people we meet, and hear their stories, and to grow deeper friendships with those we know already by sharing what’s been happening in our lives. This isn’t a practice that we keep during “normal weeks”. But I think there’s great value in this. Ask people about their big stories, and their little stories. Be willing to share yours.

We waste an awful lot of time (50-51 weeks out of the year) by thinking that these are just mission trip things. These are follower of Jesus things, and I think we’d all benefit from practicing them in our normal weeks.

 

Grace & Peace,

Stippick

 

Speaking Words of Life

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I’ve written before about struggling with wanting to speak words of life (Ephesians 4:29) to people, and wanting to get a laugh. I don’t think those things can’t live together, but it’s hard for them to in a way that coincides with how the Bible calls followers of Jesus to live.

Last night I found myself frustrated with myself because I wanted to be able to approach someone and say, “That’s not what we’re about, that’s not what we do!” about something I felt was malicious, and not out of a good nature. But I couldn’t. Because when I stopped to think about it, that’s what I model that we do and are about.

Here is the question I ultimately asked myself: If I’m really looking at others through the eyes of Jesus, and seeing them the way He sees them, with their hurts, and fears, and worries, and hopes, and dreams…would I say that thing about them? Would I have that thought, would I laugh at that the way I am now. And the answer? No.

This isn’t something I can change over night. It’s something I have to begin to train myself to do. I need to put on Jesus glasses every day, and look at people the way He does and treat them accordingly. It’s not enough just to look at them that way, I have to be ready and willing to treat them the way that requires me to treat them.

I know I’m not the only person who deals with this. I know other people struggle with the allure that the defense of sarcasm brings. But. More than anything that hurts. Always. It never helps. And we ought to care more about the well being of the heart and soul, and emotional well being of others, than we do about people thinking we’re funny and quick witted.

Do you agree? Disagree? Why?

Grace & Peace,
Stippick

Why I Love the Internet

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Last week I posted a link on my facebook and twitter about how our mobile devices are taking over our lives. I agree with the idea of the article for the most part. If we’re not careful we can let these devices, that can be helpful tools, consume us instead of us using them to consume information. I agree that we ought to be careful of that.

However, today I got a reminder of why I love the internet and its connectivity. My grandpa lives in Dallas, about four hours away from me, and has told me several times that he wishes he could hear/see me preach. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to ever work out. A few weeks ago though I had the opportunity to speak at the evening service at the church I work at, and we record our services to be broadcast on a local channel in addition to putting them on our website. After months of telling my grandpa I would e-mail him a link to a video of me preaching, I was able to do just that today. Here’s the response I got:

Thanks David. Great preaching. Unique style. Wish my hearing was better.
Love, Gramps

I got tears in my eyes as I read that six and seven more times. My grandpa means the world to me, and knowing that he got to hear a message I gave was really fun. He didn’t mention it to me once arbitrarily, he asked me again and again until I sent it to him. And his response was short, but INCREDIBLY encouraging!

And that’s why I love the internet. That may be the only sermon he ever hears me give. But he got to hear it. I got to preach a sermon and let my grandpa hear it. There are no words (besides the ones above) to describe how great an experience that was for me, and I hope it was for him too.

The internet is a hotbed of information, and time wasting applications. But it has the ability to continually connect us. This, I love.

Grace & Peace,
Stippick

Watch My Mouth

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If you’ve had the pleasure of being around me at all you’ve probably noticed that I will take almost any opportunity to make a snarky comment, give you my opinion on someone, or throw in a colorful word for effect. I know…these don’t say great things about me. But. I’ve recently begun to spend time talking with God about it.

First of all, as I said, those things don’t say great things about me as a person. Those characteristics used to describe anyone don’t say great things about whoever they’re used to describe. But to put on top of that that I claim to have a strong belief in the Bible and what it teaches…I’m not doing a lot for the image of others who claim that same thing. So I began to wrestle with this, and try to work it out.

I’ve been reading through the book Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy, and came across a line that challenged me quite a bit:

Another aspect of this “life together” that proved quite difficult was Bonhoeffer’s rule never to speak about a brother in his absence.

I love to get in on discussion on what’s the latest with who, or who did what stupid, and so on and so forth. And I don’t think it’s something I can allow myself to continue to do. In addition to that line from this captivating book, there’s a host of biblical reasons not to do so. I’ve drawn for myself a line between what’s harmless, and what’s gossip…but I don’t know that I can rightly say there is one.

Another great motivator for me came from a conversation with my sister where I quoted Ephesians 4:29 in my accusation of myself. It says:

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

(NASB)

For someone who loves a good shock value curse word, or getting a laugh at the expense of someone else…this verse cuts out a lot of what I’m able to say. Which, for most of you, could be a great thing. But what it has done for me in the last few days as I’ve been trying to internalize this, is make me think more about my words, and choose what I say more carefully.

James (of the Bible) has a ton to say about what we say. One of the best is from chapter 3 verse 5:

So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!

So…as I make an effort over the next several weeks and months, do me a favor, and watch my mouth. Tell me when I’m not doing these things. And…maybe join me if it’s something you feel like you need to do.

Grace & Peace,
Stippick

Finish List # 6

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The sixth item on my Finish List is to read 12 non-fiction books this year, basically one a month. I love to read, and I read a lot, but quite a bit of what I read is fiction, and because I read several things at a time I have this bad habit of starting a lot of book but not finishing many. I think I finished maybe 4 books last year. Here’s what my reading list looks like so far:

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy by Eric Metaxas
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Leaders Who Last by Dave Kraft
The Great Divorce by CS Lewis
Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society by Timothy D. Willard and Jason Lacy
The Church Can Change The World by Jimmy Seibert

I’m looking to add one more biography, and it’s between the Tina Fey, Jane Lynch, and Rob Lowe ones right now. I also want to add two more “classics” along the lines of The Great Divorce. Lastly, I’m looking to add three business leadership books. So. If you’ve got ideas for any of those, let me know. Thanks!

Grace & Peace,
Stippick

Finish List # 5

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So. I haven’t posted in a week. But. I’ll still meet my goal of posting three times a week. Now onto goal number five.

I want to write a semester of curriculum for the college ministry I work with. This seems like a lofty goal to some, but I feel like I can do it. I want to do this as part of my job someday, so I figure why not get some practice in when I’m in a great learning/trial and error environment.

That’s about all there is to that. Today’s post is short. I’ll be finishing up my Finish List explanations over the next few days, and kicking off some great stuff on the blog starting Monday! Have a great weekend!

Grace & Peace,
Stippick

Finish List # 4

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The fourth item on my Finish List might actually be my most difficult: Get an A in Intermediate Algebra (The equivalent of High School Algebra 2, which I have to take before I can take College Algebra). This may seem like an easy enough task, but for me. It may not be. This will be the third time i have attempted to take the class in as many semesters. The first time I tried it, about halfway through the semester it became clear that there was nothing I could do to pass the class. So I dropped it failing. This past fall semester I was in the class for three days before I decided I didn’t have the determination to see it through.

There’s three major reasons this is such a difficult class for me:

1: I’m bad at math. I just am. 2+2=4. I get that. 2×4=8. Yep. 32x(4-9+3)=78y+3(27-8). Uhhhh…I don’t get that. I just don’t. I sit in class and learn the principles, and formulas, and think I get them. I try to apply them to a problem? Nothing. I get it wrong.
2: Because I’m not great at it, I have a mental block to it. This just makes me being bad at it worse. Now I’m bad at it and I don’t care to pay attention to try and learn anything new, because they’re building on things I don’t understand. I get scared of 38 problem homework assignments, because I don’t get it. So I end up just not doing them )This? Will make you fail a math class. I don’t recommend it).
3: I’ve got to be honest with you. I don’t see the point. I can do basic math. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Those are all things I can take on. Basic things like that are vital to have in your everyday life (Thank God for cell phone calculators, am I right?!). But…why on earth do I need to know how to graph a parabola? I’ve never been given a good answer to that question (or others like it). I know that a big part of math is problem solving, and logic, and blah, blah, blah…but. I’ve got those things. I don’t need to learn them in a class that uses math beyond what my profession will ever require of me. I’m smart enough to know my limitations in math to know when I’ll need someone else to help me out with something. So, because I see absolutely no value in the class itself, I find it very hard to make it a priority in my life.

And those, ladies and gentlemen, are the things I’m up against this semester in my quest to get an A in this class. I don’t think it will be easy. I’m anticipating several attempts to give up. But I will not be allowed to do that this time. This year, I will FINISH my formal mathematical education.

Grace & Peace,
Stippick

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