Friday, May 16, 2014

3 Escapes From Your Social Media

 In my last blog post I gave 3 signs that you need to take a break from your social media. Basically some unhealthy habits that could speak to a larger issue of dependency on or maybe even an "addiction" to your social networks. If you're like me, you don't like to be told "why" but not "how". 

So here are 3 ways you can adjust your life in light of these warning signs:
(From least-most extreme measure)

1. Place your phone or tablet under your Bible, a new book, or newspaper. Just giving one layer of distraction from and encouragement toward something else could help resist the temptation to dive directly into your feeds when you wake up!

2. Place your social media devices in another room entirely. We have habit of plugging in those devices beside our beds. I mean we are using them right up until time to sleep so we just reach over and plug them in. Oh, we also use them for our alarm clock right? I encourage you to have a "bed time" for devices. Research says being off of them 30 minutes before going to bed could help in time needed to fall asleep and quality of sleep! Perhaps another blog post coming ;)

3. Delete social media apps for 30 days. I know, I know... This is the most extreme measure ever! As many teenagers would say "I just can't!!" However, depending on how well you can receive the above suggestions may be the litmus test results for you that your dependence on these social media platforms is extraordinarily unhealthy. You don't lose any thing and you're not deleting your account (though that might be needed for some) Simply remove them for 30 days and replace that time with reading, praying or simply having a convo with those in your presence.

Social media is an all-important part of our life and culture and I certainly am not excused from the last two blogs penned. But as with any thing, I want to leverage it to look more like Jesus, not it leveraging me to look more like the world!

What are some other tips or suggestions you have used to take a break from social media?

Monday, May 12, 2014

3 Warning Signs You Need a Break From Social Media

 I love social media... It is such an impactful way to communicate, connect and share with others, but it also can be detracting from communicating, connecting and sharing with those in your very presence.

 If you're like me, you find that every once in a while you just have to "unplug" and readjust things. But when do we do that? Its a busy week, we have a big event coming up, its graduation time... and so on. All these can be excuses that keep us plugged in during the very times we need to get away.

Here are 3 signs you need to take a break:

1. The first thing you do when you wake up is check your social media- Not coffee, not prayer or Bible study, the very first thing you do is open up that app and see "what's going on in the world" This is unhealthy and a sure sign that you need a break to readjust your morning routine.

2. You cannot wait to open that app with a little red notification on the top- You will be in full conversation with someone and it happens, an app updates and you have a notification. Your mind flood with thoughts: Who is it? What did they say? Did they like my pic? Then without thought you drop eye contact with a real person standing in front of you and put your attention to your social media. This dishonors that person and is a sure sign you need to take a break and readjust your priorities in relationships

3. You can't leave your phone- You get up to go do something in the kitchen and you get half way there turn around and go back to get that phone. I mean, what if someone texts me or comments on my picture (see above), I have to see it immediately! Never mind you will be back from the kitchen in about 2 minutes. If this is you, you need to re-examine not only where your self worth is coming from but also your level of contentment as well.

There are probably 100 reasons why we need to unplug, but ask your self these three questions and as Paul says in Romans 12 "take a careful examination of yourself". If this sparks something in your thoughts, Here are 3 ways to begin your time away from social media

Thursday, May 8, 2014

4 Things I want You to Know About our Adoption

I have been very apprehensive about making this public. I mean if you're close to me you already know, but for other friends near and far... The Nichles family is about to grow!

 No, Emily is not pregnant and no we're not getting more animals at the farm, we are adopting. Now this isn't earth shattering if you have spent any time with me or our family because we have thought about this for years. We have even looked into it several times and the timing was just not right. But in the last few months Gods timing, provision and our hearts began to line up and an opportunity has presented itself for us to follow God in this new journey.

There are a couple of things I would like to ask all of you as we navigate the unknown waters ahead:

1. Please pray for us! Seems docile I know, but we really are seeking 3 things from God and ask you to ask Him for them as well: wisdom, discernment and favor. Colossians 1:9, Luke 2:52

2. Do NOT ask questions like what age? what gender? or especially what "color"?!?  We do not know nor really do we care! We have an idea where God is leading us but we also know that God knows infinitely more than we do about our families future and we want to arrive at the destination he has not where we want.
(Our hearts desire is to adopt a child in late childhood-early teens because they are the least likely to be adopted statistically, plus it fits our "natural" life stage with our own children) Philippians 4:8

3. Do NOT "share" with us others horror stories of this process. We know the risk and are prepared as best we can for heartbreak, we trust God and know he will be faithful. Simply love us and encourage us to remain steadfast and faithful! Ephesians 4:29

4. Please DO be patient with our family as we navigate a plethora of BIG decisions like where to send our kids to school, what events and socials we can participate in, and how our family adjusts to a new member. Ephesians 4:32

Right now we are reading some very helpful blogs, books and other resources from those who have adopted and are very encouraged. If you have other suggestions in this area we would love to hear from you...

Current reads:

The Bible- sounds trite but Gods speaks ALOT about adoption
Orphanology by Tony Merida
Reclaiming Adoption by Dan Cruver and John Piper
Becoming Home by Barna (Frames)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

3 Things I Re-learned at Orange Conference

 Conferences are such a blessing and privilege for anyone to attend, especially if they help you sharpen your skills, heighten your passion or help you see something brand new! I had the privilege of attending #OC14 last week, a conference experience for all those who serve the church in some capacity for kids and families of all ages! If you're reading this, you probably already know, but if by chance you are not familiar with this strategy than here is a link to Orange to find out more. I am not sure about you, but usually when I got to conferences I come home excited but with this nagging thought in my head that, "there's no way I can pull that off!" However, #OC14 was different!

  Now their talent pool, resources, and format are of the greatest excellence and there is absolutely no way I could ever replicate it in my setting! However, I wanted to share the 3 things I came home with that weren't necessarily new, but helpful, timely and encouraging:

1.  People matter- I guess as a minister and someone who has served in the church my entire adult life you would think this would be a given, but the reality of ministry is that programs, budgets, and the "next thing" can cloud my thoughts quickly. The bottom line is that People are what’s important! Sure Budgets and programming are realities that help guide ministry, but it should never dictate it!

2. Smaller is still better I love high-energy worship services! I always enjoy a great vocal, guitar solo, and a meaty message from the Word, but nothing helps form people into the image of Jesus like a small group of people to live life with. Small Groups (however you label them) should receive much of the attention, efforts, and resources of the church, rather than everything being in that one basket of an hour on Sunday! And the caveat to this is constantly developing those small group leaders. (This is a post in itself)

3. Cooperation is Vital- Churches in general but age specific ministries within the church especially should never operate in a silo's of segregation but instead should be fostered to coagulate. This WILL not happen naturally in any organization! Harmonious ministries that support, love and celebrate one another must be intentionally formed and intentionally shaped with the end in mind and kept from anything that takes their eyes off of that common end!

I would love to hear from anyone else who attended #OC14 or #Catalyst or any other great conference this year- What are your top 3 highlights?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Eeny Meeny Miny Moe Catch A Campus By Its Toe...

 On any playground where children are playing you will hear the phrase, "eeny meeny miny moe" and know that a decision or choice is being made. What you don't expect to hear is that same phrase being used in your Student Ministry's conference room in a major planning session about reaching the local campuses! However, even if unspoken, this is exactly what is happening so often in Student Ministries across the country. It wasn't but just a few years ago, the reach of any given church and its Student Ministry would simply be to the local middle or high school in their community. These schools were filled with rich relationships of church members who are teaching, coaching or leading the schools faculty and all the students in the church attend that one school. The reality of our current context, however, is very different! A highly mobile, technological, and a probable disconnect from deep meaningful relationships in leadership means making an impact on your local school campus can present some heavier challenges than before. Not to mention the sheer number of school campuses that are possibly represented in your ministry automatically make the "choice" a bit harder. But it doesn't have to be...

 Hopefully, the importance of reaching your local campus doesn't need to be addressed here but just as a reminder here's a snapshot for you: Hundreds if not thousands of teenagers confined to one place for approximately 1600 hours a year! Your local campus MUST be an important place to do ministry. Now there are many ways to approach campus ministry and again this particular discussion isn't trying to convince you of a Why? or a What? but simply a basic How? For many Churches campus ministry is boiled down to either proximity or presence. With proximity a church will simply look at the closest school to their campus and focus their efforts there. Now I am not at all saying that where God has placed you and your team is NOT where he wants you to minister. As a matter of fact, I would usually lean toward if you are in a specific place that’s where you should focus your efforts. The other approach is in presence. In this approach your ministry will place its focus where a majority of students who already attend their church attend school. Thus that specific campus is where their possibility for "greater impact" exists. Again, I am not saying that where your people are is not where your efforts should be focused either. In fact proximity and presence are two great indicators of where your Student Ministry should focus its efforts in campus ministry. However, over the years I have served in places where the traditional one campus in a small town was my context and I've served in contexts with several 4A or 5A schools with in just minutes of our Student Ministry building. In both, there were tensions that would always exist between the Why’s and What’s, but we would always settle the “How” quickly. Here's my suggestion, cliché as it may seem- Pray, Watch, & Go!

  I’ve had the "privilege" of transitioning to a new ministry context several times over the past 20 years and each time I've had to meet new people, learn new names, and find new fried chicken joints to eat at. But every time, I've had to make a decision on which school campus we were going to focus our efforts on. Each time I have gathered leaders and students around this approach. Lets Pray! Early in ministry I would learn from Henry Blackaby to "see where God is working and make adjustments in your life to join him." This principle has guided me in ministry all these years and it still does. We pray, asking God to show us what he is currently doing on the local campuses in school clubs, athletics, faculty, band, etc. I think this also applies to the flip side of that coin, if there is NOTHING happening on a campus perhaps that’s your answer to pray. Either way, pray and ask God to reveal to you where your maximum IMPACT should be. Secondly, we watch for opportunities to jump in, support, fund, maximize, or celebrate what God is doing on a certain campus. Many will use "vision alignment" or budgetary guidance in this particular phase and I encourage that. The point is that if you have asked God through prayer to reveal to you a way to engage the campus, watch for ways to "do something" until the answer is clear! Then finally, when, NOT if, God reveals to you his desire for your ministry to reach a campus or two, GO! You and your team have been praying and watching together so when its go time, you must be obedient even if it does stretch your man power, vision, or budget! There will probably never be enough dollars to go around, but you must never let budget stop you from engaging your local campus.

 When you Pray, Watch and Go you not only invest your time into joining with God in his Kingdom advancement but you model for leaders and students how to navigate living on mission for the rest of their days on planet Earth! Now, Pray, Watch, and Go...

Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Reads of 2012

No certain order, but all must reads

1. Jesus- A Theography by Len Sweet and Frank Viola
2. A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards
3. Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas
4. Sifted by Rick Lawrence
5. Barefoot Church by Brandon Hatmaker
6. Platform by Michael Hyatt
7. Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard (1of a 3 book rotation I read semi-annually)
8. The Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine
9. The Cloud and the Line by Paul Gibbs (PAIS Project)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

No Church, No pews, No Problem

During a huge building project and remodel of our church's main worship facility we were holding services in our Fellowship Hall. That was until this past Sunday night when a fire caused extensive damage to our facility and all but eliminated any way to use our campus for corporate gathering. It was already somewhat unsettling for so many to not have our Christmas plays and musicals in our worship center, but a strange unifying communion had taken place in that fellowship hall! Our church had pulled together in so much during this building project and displacement, honestly, it's been a sweet time of worship and fellowship.

I think it would be so easy to be discouraged now. A major set back, another displacement, another 'new" place for families to gather for these special times of celebrating the Lords birth. However, what an amazing time for our faith family to tighten up again. We've gone from 3 services to 2 in the fellowship hall, to now just 1 in our temporary location. Maybe I'm crazy, but I believe this could be the best Christmas celebration our church has ever experienced. Maybe we needed to strip down all the stuff (as much as we enjoy it), maybe its not about the decorations, even about the styles of music and instruments that will be played! Perhaps, the Lord is "doing a new thing" among us that will put front and center the Lord Jesus in all his splendor; that this season, FBC Midland would put every thought, every effort, and every praise toward he alone who is worthy of such... No Church, No Pews, No Problem for the Lord!

 Merry Christmas!!!