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I am just about to leave to take some of our newer youth group members and their folks on a unique Hong Kong adventure.  We are going cliff jumping at one of the most beautiful spots you can find in Hong Kong.

Having lived here for 5 years, I feel in many ways that I have adapted well to the society and culture.  I love this place, it’s become home.  That’s good.  Even better?  I don’t think all the changes I have needed to make to be moderately comfortable and effective here have cost me my personal identity.  In fact, I believe having to adapt has polarized the need for me to be confident of who I am in Christ.

Case in point.  I’m at heart a bit, shall we say, non-traditional.  I don’t take risks just for the sake of risk.  I take risks for some goal to be achieved.  Many do that, just not many in HK.  That’s why I love that God has placed me here.  I have gained enough trust with some of our parishioners  to begin introducing them to things outside their normal comfort zones.  Sure, it  takes some longer than others, but the joy is still there.

In many ways this assignment has been a hard one.  Getting the opportunity to stretch people, especially parents, helps me to realize being non-traditional doesn’t necessarily mean I’m ineffective.  Maybe I’m doing exactly what God intended all along.

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Every summer I spend much of my time thinking through the coming ministry/school year.  Since I work primarily with youth my work schedule pretty much mirrors a school schedule.  So summer provides somewhat of a break to think through things, evaluate where we’re going and where we’ve been and most importantly, asking if what we’re doing is ultimately bringing glory to God.  

Somewhere along the line, I’ve fallen into a dangerous cycle of thinking I have to make things happen.  I have to be the one to make things bigger, better, and more exciting than before. It’s not an all the time thing, but it does happen more than I’d like to admit. 

Seeking to be better isn’t a bad thing by itself,  but the motivation must be rooted in honoring God, not my own personal coolness.  Somehow, I’ve managed to confuse the two.  I’ve tried to be effective according to the expectations of others, not according to God’s plan. 

Leadership’s online blog, Out of Ur, has an interesting post on this issue of pastors and ministry that gives a good perspective of how easy it is to fall into this trap:  measuring effectiveness

I think great ministry does produce great churches, it’s just my definition of great ministry needs to shift.  Ultimately, if we are faithful to God’s call on our lives and our church, other lives will be changed as people experience us living out the message of the Gospel.  That’s what it’s all about.  Not so much all the other stuff that looks cool.  

I’m excited about what’s coming up for our church and youth ministries.  I think there are some positive things happening, and, if we’re willing to press on, there’s more to come.  

May I have the strength to stay out of the way.

This isn’t the kind of headline you want to read.A whole lot of girls are more sexually active than  we’d like to consider.  The challenge now becomes, how do we convey a biblically accurate picture of relationships and  sexuality to teenagers that have already bought into a less than healthy view?   

Expelled.This  looks to be a compelling movie.  I’m already a big fan of Ben Stein thanks to such classics as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Win Ben Stein’s Money but this will produce a different sort of appreciation I  suspect.  

I’ve been participating in the Gospel Camp associated with our International School this week.  While always tiring, I wouldn’t trade the experience as those little defining moments are worth so much.   Today, our small group time focused around the things we seek to make us happy and quickly turned to the difference between joy and happiness.  Our group really made some good points.  I love hearing how they process such key themes! With that on my mind all day, one of our students walks up to me tonight during the bbq with a handful of marshmellows and said “it’s time”.  For 3 years now, at each camp we’ve been to, we’ve made a point to see how far we can throw marshmellows into each other’s mouths.  Tonight, we got 98 feet!   I know it’s a dumb little thing and would probably be looked at with some level of scorn by grown ups but that moment brought great joy to my heart.  Brett will leave for university soon but for now, we had this moment.  A chance to one more time share the experience of just spending time together.  And of course, we finished with the traditional chest bump. Joy is found in those little moments!

Thinking about change can bring tangible results, like this:reloadposter.jpg