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As our faith community began exploring the truth about ourselves, we started with this:

“We’re all beautiful.”

Why?  Because we’ve been made in the image of God.

But even as we let that marinate, there was a competing idea tugging naggingly on the corner of our minds:

“If we are so beautiful, why do we act so ugly sometimes?”

Hmmm.

Maybe because we’re all a bit BENT

That’s my best guess anyway.  Listen in to find out  why.

And hear me destroy a slinky in the process.

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During the month of April our faith community is talking about human nature.

Our hope is that as we better understand ourselves, we’ll develop a deeper appreciation for Jesus’ love, mission, life, death and resurrection.

So, what’s the first- and deepest- truth about us?

Listen in.  You might be surprised.

In spite of April Fool’s day, here’s a direct question, free of malice:

As we seek to understand the things, people and places that are sapping the life from us, have we looked in the mirror?

What if life and other people aren’t our only, or even or most significant, sources of energy loss?

What if we’re being drained by (gulp) ourselves?

Could struggling against our limitations, trying to live up to unrealistic or unclear expectations or unfinished business that is lurking under the surface be draining us?

If you’ve found yourself regularly or deeply tired, frustrated or empty lately- it’s probably worth some consideration.

Our faith community explored this at length last Sunday.  You can find the conversation HERE.

Our faith community is in the process of identifying some of the things that suck the life and energy out of us.

Near the top of that list?  Other people.

I’m sure you can’t relate right?  You don’t know anyone who seems to leave you more tired after interacting with them than you were before, do you?

Thought so.

Here’s the rub: we’re relational creatures, even the introverted among us.  We need- and yes- even want people in our lives.

So, how do we live with each other in ways that are healthy and don’t feel so draining?

In last weekend’s teaching conversation I discussed a couple of possible solutions.

If you could use some ideas about how to deal with your relational drains, feel free to listen HERE.

Ever wondered:

“Is it just me?”

“Am I doing this faith thing wrong?”

“Is God real in my life?”

“Should I just give up?”

If so, you aren’t alone.

Right now our faith community is wrestling with these kinds of questions.

This past Sunday we queried, “Is it normal to fluctuate between faith and doubt?”

To have moments where we commit ourselves fully to God only to later wonder if He’s even there?

To act so courageously in faith one time, and fail in fear the next?

To be convinced one day, and conflicted another?

Good questions all.

If you’re interested in the conversation, you can listen in HERE.

….Money.

Right?

If there’s a part of a church gathering that can get weird in a hurry or make us cringe a bit, it’s the offering.  Yet most faiths practice some element of giving to God.  Why?  Is it helpful?  Optional?  Vital? Does what we do with our tangible stuff really impact our souls and relationships with a God who already owns everything anyway?

Over the course of 5 weeks our faith community sought some clarity about the back-story of offerings and the role they should play in our lives with God.  Beyond discussing what God wants FROM us, we processed offerings in light of what God wants FOR us.

So, if you’re interested in learning more- or just want to hear a church talk about money without the inevitable sales pitch or stewardship campaign, listen in.

You can find the first teaching conversation in the series HERE and navigate our PODCAST SITE for the rest.  (My apologies for the audio quality on the initial message.  We had a glitch that week.  The sound is greatly improved in subsequent teachings.)

Enjoy!

What kinds of people are you drawn to?  Like to hang out with?

Chances are your answer can be boiled down to: “people who add something good to my life”.

We need people like that in our lives.

And we need to be those people for others.

Sound good?

Learn more HERE.

Remember when your math teacher taught you value comparisons?  You were given two numbers and asked to decide if the first was greater than, less than or equal to the second.

You were equipped with the following symbols: >, <, =.

Later you’d be given an underscore that could be used to create a hybrid answer but we’ll skip that for now.  No need to get too fancy and show off.

If your math class was anything like mine, we struggled a bit to differentiate between < & >.  That was until our math teacher swooped in with one of those tips that they must teach in math college.

She drew teeth in each  symbol and told us to think of them as alligators- rabid, frenzied reptiles who were desperately craving warm, squirming flesh.

OK so I’m embellishing a bit.  But the point was the same.

The alligator wants to eat the bigger number.  Point its mouth towards the bigger one and you’ll do just fine.

That tip not only works in 4th grade math, but in relationships too.

If we want to get along better with each other, we need to know which way to point the alligator’s mouth.  Are we more important than others?  Or should they come before us?

How will we know the right answer?  In the 2nd teaching of the U+I=WE series, I suggest that we cheat off of Jesus’ paper a bit.

And yeah- I’m pretty sure He’ll be OK with it.

You can listen to the teaching and download the accompanying slides and a 2nd Helpings Sheet HERE.

Happy cheating!

Our church community is walking through a series of learning conversations on relationships.

Not just dating relationships- or married relationships- but human relationships.

We’re simply trying to understand how we can get along better with other people.

And we began with a conversation that I think every teacher should have w/their students BEFORE they dive into a complex topic complete w/equations and theorums.

Intrigued?  Listen in HERE.

When it comes to communication, are you a short and sweet kind of person?  Or do you prefer the long version of the story?

For the sake of full disclosure, I tend to be fairly verbose.  Although at times I force myself to reign it in and be succinct.  This is why I like to update my status online via Twitter instead of Facebook.  Makes me edit myself.

Last Sunday our church community spent some time talking about what we feel called by God to do.

Putting it in a nutshell, I said I think we’re about:

“Building relationships that change things.”

Capturing the essence of a church community or anything else in only five words can make it incredibly portable, but is by necessity incomplete.

So, I developed a longer version of the ethos of Connections Church as well:

“Connections church is a humble, welcoming community of average people who are trying to understand and practice what it means to unreservedly follow Jesus in the midst of everyday life while building deep, authentic relationships with other believers for mutual support, encouragement and accountability and at the same time seeking to be an incarnation of the love, presence and message of Jesus to our world (both locally and globally) with intent of allowing God to work in and through us to unfold His plans, establish His Kingdom and bring glory to Himself.”

Something tells me that this might not only be the longest run on sentence known to man, but that I- and everyone else- will be more likely to remember, repeat and embody the shorter version.

If you’d like to hear more about this, take a listen to this week’s POD CAST.