Life In The Cockpit Of Technology

We gather all the things we need–our phones, laptops, tablets, and more–and we place our earphones on and focus. We can connect with people through technology. We can take care of many tasks. We can work uninterrupted, or at least with a feeling of control over our interruptions.

We’re not unlike pilots in their cockpits as they fly when we lock into our technology spaces. We let few people enter. We have control, or at least we think we do. We take on big responsibilities, but we do it in the illusion of isolation.

Technology gives us the opportunity to make quick connections and have effective productivity. But the more we think we can do within our reach, the more we enter a bubble to get more done. We are more content to focus on tasks than people. When we focus on people, it is often through a screen or microphone.

Technology can open up the world to us, so why do we close ourselves off and connect more with the technology than the world? Why doesn’t we use what have access to as a gateway instead of a destination? We become content to see photos instead of reality, videos instead of experiences, multi-tasking chats instead of face-to-face conversations, read someone else’s opinions instead of wrestling through our own doubts and issues.

The challenge is how to live with technology and use it well without closing ourselves off from the people in our lives. Being in the same room is not the same as being present with people, including ourselves.

How engaged are you with your phone compared to how engaged and invested in people are you?

It’s worth honest reflection and assessment today, so you can live better tomorrow.

Where Is Your Circle of Friends Going?

rippleJesus had a pretty tight-group of friends. He came in contact with a lot of people, but He deeply invested in a few. He nourished, taught, and filled them, so that when He left, His disciples were so full that Jesus’ impact on them exploded throughout ripples of relationships and communities.

Who are you investing in, and who is investing in you? Have you become a closed community or a close-knit community that is in a season of investment, poised in preparation to explode into ripples that impact others?

We can get so comfortable in our routines that we don’t prepare for the next step. We like our friends. We like our time together. We like how we can trust each other. It’s just…comfortable. Why change it?

Because there are other people who need to experience connections. There are people who need to be served, listened to, acknowledged, invested in.

Think about your “groups.” With what are you filling yourselves? Is it nourishing and life-changing? God-honoring?

If not, get healthy.

If so, get moving.

Start multiplying. Share with others. You will likely stay in contact with many people, but you may have to leave some people behind. If you’ve invested in each others’ lives, you’re really just taking each other with you. The ripple effects are connected, but they have to move in order to continue.

Digging Deeper. Climbing Higher.

©2015 PurePurpose.org
©2015 PurePurpose.org

The first time I visited Israel, it was as if I sliced through a tell and looked at the grandness of the cross-section. As tell (or tel) is a layer of civilization. It’s a mound-like structure created by a long series of human occupation and abandonment. As I experienced the cross-section, I savored as many details as I could, but I mainly tried to see the bigger picture so that I didn’t get confused by disconnected pieces.

I connected more pieces when I returned. I recognized roads and oriented one location to another. I steeped in familiar places and discovered new ones. With nearly every step, something “clicked” as if I could identify something familiar with something new. Not all the connections were between the two trips. Many were between places, stories, people and the Bible. Some involved research and reading I had done in preparation for the trip.

If my first trip was like slicing through a tell, my second trip was sitting at various layers and studying details.

Of course, the more I experience, the more I know there is to experience. The more I know, the more I want to know.

Learning is a lifelong adventure. No matter how much you know, there is more to learn.

Faith is no different.

No matter how strong your faith, it is only a fraction of the faith you can have. We can focus on the faith we have and be content. We can also focus on the faith we don’t have and give up on growing. Neither is productive. Instead, we can claim the faith we have, stand firmly on it, but continue to examine, tear down, build up, and take one more step at a time.

Faith is a journey. It is an adventure.

Walking Over People

Yad Vashem was one of the most powerful experiences I had in Israel during my first visit. Although I knew what to expect on my return trip, one of those expectations was that I would be a bit rattled…again. Walking through the exhibits that represent a real journey for many is difficult and convicting. So many people were involved in the Holocaust, and I explored a couple perspectives in a past post. I stepped inside and watched the footage of everyday, pre-WWII Jewish life. The footage was different this time. The caption was the same:

“Hundreds of life fragments were woven to become a human tapestry, longing for a life and a landscape that no longer exists. The Jewish world that was lost.”

©archdaily.com
©archdaily.com

I turn away from the screen and began to walk through the exhibits. The design of the building is beautiful, haunting, and intentional. It is triangular, built with a slight upward slope. So, as I stood near the beginning, I stared ahead, knowing how the journey would end: a moving record of all the names of the Jewish Holocaust victims, statements of hope and promise, and a beautiful view of God’s creation. I had a lot of steps to take between where I was and where I was headed.

As I stood between two photos of bodies piled upon each other, I heard a muffled voice and footsteps and noticed a shadow cast on the floor. I looked up. Two people walked through the top of the memorial building. They were outside, but I could see them through the glass. They were talking and laughing in the sunshine as if they were oblivious to anything below them.

I wondered, “What am I passing by?”

Who can see my shadow and hear my laughter while they suffer? I need to consider the piles of people, or even just one, who might lie beneath me…under my feet and under my smile.

People all around us have needs. We might be tempted to assess some as more serious than others, but in the process, we likely ignore what needs attention. Our assessment isn’t as accurate as God’s. We need to trust Him to guide us, help us notice people, and know how we should respond.

Connections aren’t limited to face to face encounters. Sometimes, a shadow, laugh, smile, cry, or glimpse is all it takes for one person to affect another person’s life. Look around, notice, and respond.

Touring Styles

There are many ways to “see” Israel. Most people sign up for a trip to Israel because they want to “walk where Jesus walked.” They do…sort of. I’ve watched throngs of people get on and off buses, follow a guide who sometimes has to use a microphone to be heard. Where microphones aren’t allowed or available, people hear what they can as they trek from one stop to another. It can be a good experience,

…but there’s a difference between touring and journeying.

©2015 PurePurpose.org
©2015 PurePurpose.org

The trips I’ve led have been a little different. We try to combine touring certain “essential” locations with exploring some less familiar ones. We keep the group small, so we get to know each other well and can help one another with questions along the journey. After all, journeying through Israel isn’t about sites as much as about heart. It’s not about gaining head knowledge as much as inviting life change. We serve the people of Israel so that we’re invested in people of today. We might be drawn by the past of Israel, but we engage in the “now.” We look people in the eyes and serve with our hands.

It’s not a perfect approach. I always long for more. As I connect one place with another, I wonder what it would be like to hike instead of drive. I savor conversations inside the hotels and at coffee shops, which makes me want to seek out and enjoy even more connections with people. During the adventure of daily itineraries, I wonder about the simplicity of routines. I come across the people living everyday lives and want to walk alongside them. Yet I have to balance the expectations and opportunities of a limited block of time.

No matter what the approach, I have to be available to journey the way God wants me to journey. That means, being available to notice, change, reflect, and learn every step of the way.

Are you touring or journeying? How available are you? How committed are you? Flexible?

Learn from others, but let God lead every step of the way.

If you’re interested in receiving information about the next women’s trip to Israel (Fall 2016) when it is available, click here.

Freely Drink

imagesSo Ruth went to the fields and gathered the grain that the workers cutting the grain had left behind. It just so happened that the field belonged to Boaz, from Elimelech’s family. Soon Boaz came from Bethlehem and greeted his workers, “The Lord be with you!”

And the workers answered, “May the Lord bless you!”

Then Boaz asked his servant in charge of the workers, “Whose girl is that?”

The servant answered, “She is the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, ‘Please let me follow the workers cutting grain and gather what they leave behind.’ She came and has remained here, from morning until just now. She has stopped only a few moments to rest in the shelter.”

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Don’t go to gather grain for yourself in another field. Don’t even leave this field at all, but continue following closely behind my women workers. Watch to see into which fields they go to cut grain and follow them. I have warned the young men not to bother you. When you are thirsty, you may go and drink from the water jugs that the young men have filled.” Ruth 2:3-9

We experience favor in the oddest places at times. At least we see them as odd. It makes perfect sense to God, because he sees all the connections among the people and situations in our lives. He knows the kind of day you’re having and whether you need to pour into someone or feel someone pouring into you in order to experience his presence.

We can get into a “serve us” mentality instead of a service mentality. We can get self-focused and think we should get things our way. But the opposite can also happen. We can give so much we set aside our need to be filled. It might look better, but it’s still self-focused. We think we can rely on ourselves to meet everyone else’s needs. We believe we’re doing a great thing to deflect the focus to someone else, excusing what we’re doing isn’t much and doesn’t need attention. We don’t know how to take compliments. We don’t want others to serve us because we don’t want to inconvenience them.

The truth is we can rob someone of the opportunity to do God’s work by rejecting her service. We can miss the opportunity to acknowledge God’s glory and provision when we don’t accept compliments and gratitude and reflect him in the process.

Live It. Watch for the opportunity to serve – and be served – today. Acknowledge God’s goodness.

Get Outside Your Circle

healingthehurtIt’s a bit easier to perpetuate the cause and effects of hurt when you hang out with a group that isolates itself and allows the hurt to multiply. We all need reality checks, and we don’t get them from the people closest to us if they’re not willing or able to shine a revealing light on the truth of a situation. We connect with people because we have things in common with them, so we affirm one another. However, when the affirmation becomes a crutch and pulls a blinding shade over accountability, we’re in trouble.

We need to choose friends who love us just the way we are yet aren’t content to leave us there—just like God. Affirmation is great as long as it’s biblical. However, our circles of friends—even in churches—can become gossip fests. Once the can of gossip is opened, it’s incredibly difficult to secure the lid on it, but the effort is worth it. We do a lot of damage spreading hearsay or gathering breakneck momentum based on our opinions instead of factually-based information and biblical truth. When our small groups of friends or Bible study groups begin to share opinions and gain momentum of what we think is happening or should happen with an individual or the church as a whole, it’s not long before we take the small leap that rationalizes we’re being “led by God.” Just because we’re a group of Bible-believing church folks who come to a consensus doesn’t mean our conclusion is God-directed. Were biblical principles followed throughout the process of coming to the conclusion, or was there misguided rationale, misinformation, and inappropriate sharing? You cannot reach a Spirit-led result with a man-led process.

There are many boundaries drawn between the “us” and “them” in churches. It can be old versus young or paid staff versus volunteer staff. It can be “old-timers” versus new members or regular attenders versus members. The division of groups is often perpetuated by assumptions. Because we tend to hang out with people most like ourselves, we quickly make assumptions about other groups as well as about what those groups must think about us. It isn’t long before we feel slighted, justified, or entitled, and the space between the groups widen.

The way to build a bridge between groups is to get to know individuals in other groups. It takes effort, because we have to reach across the aisle to approach the very people we have some unflattering assumptions about. We might find some aspects of the assumptions to be true, but we’ll likely find many more exceptions if we open our eyes and hearts widely enough to recognize and acknowledge them. If each person in your circle of camaraderie gets to know three people in one of “the other” circles, how many assumptions would be proven right and how many would be shaken or shattered? It’s worth a try to find out. Test the all or nothing perspective.

When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

God’s family is certainly not exempt from hurt, including the hurts that come from within. People in churches are just as vulnerable to unjustly criticize, gossip, neglect, and offend one another as anyone else. It’s true that God sets us apart to reflect his image to the world, but to believe Christ-followers are perfect representations of Jesus will, to say the least, lead to disappointment. What (should) set Christ-followers apart from the world is how they deal with one another to heal the hurt. Will they do the hard work it takes to unite or will they further divide into quarreling, backbiting, judgmental factions? Which will you choose? Welcome to Healing the Hurt, a 10-post series to help hurting communities cope in biblical ways.