For the past few weeks, my prayers to God have been, “Oh, God; Oh, God; Oh, God…” It reminded me of Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
A final video chat on November 1 sealed the deal.Southwest Church Connection is partnering with me to bring a pastors workshop to Phoenix, Arizona (coming in January, 2018). The intention is not to add more to what a pastor already does, but to teach him how to use his untapped resource to engage in greater outreach in their communities. The workshop will go beyond the marketing of a church to mobilization, to equipping, and to greater and more strategic evangelism using teams.
I am excited about this as I plan out the workshop, arrange a beta testing team for the final production of the materials and teaching, and plan the marketing for it. I’ll be pushing this out beginning after Thanksgiving. Most of us in my line of work use technology and/or see the potential of it for face-to-face discipleship, and my prayer is for the churches to embrace it as well. My heart gravitates especially towards smaller churches who have outdated websites, social media that is non-existent or out of date or underused, and who need creative inspiration to think outside the box.
So stay tuned and be praying for me as I work it all out.
On President’s Day, we took a long drive up highway 260 in Arizona. As a social media mentor and consultant, it’s almost a crime not to post on social media when you see beauty reflected in creation. The pine trees are almost black against the white snow. Where the snow had melted, small ponds have formed. The best view was the sudden discovery of Elk just outside Payson, Arizona.
We think they were bulls who had shed their antlers. My husband stopped in the middle of a highway in his excitement, but I directed him farther up the road where we found a pull out to park. We walked quietly back to the herd and took this video:
Our kind neighbors had vacated the group spot an hour before the sun fully rose and the light crept into the canyon. We could hear them banging food containers and giggling as they looked forward to their next adventure. We had met so many great people from all over the world. It was our turn this morning to go home.
We were both eager and sad. This campground was our home for a couple of nights. The Bright Angel Creek was still muddy unlike the first day when we soaked our sore calves in the ice cold water when it was blue. The creek still tore over rocks in furious temperament, pushing mud to the Colorado River after yesterday’s rain (and snow on the rims). It had risen higher than the first day we sat on its banks.
We started on our journey at 9:30 a.m. Our backs ached, protesting the 25 and 27 lbs we wore, and our legs strained, still feeling the stiffness and soreness of previously coming down the Kaibab Trail on Sunday afternoon. Climbing up would use different muscles. Our spirits soared as we looked forward to seeing what sights God would show us on our way to the South Rim via the Bright Angel Trail. Of course, we began our journey in prayer like on Sunday.
Sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth! (Psalm 96:1)
What we didn’t realize is how long the Bright Angel Trail was and what an ordeal awaited us. The Bright Angel Trail from Phantom Ranch is about 9 miles long. It’s easier than the Kaibab Trail (7 miles) because it’s not straight up. Some journeys are barren of joy, straight up grueling paths that cause us to wonder why we feel alone. Where is God in our struggles? We think we are alone until we encounter people on the way as in the first day when we discovered a hiker in distress. A little aspirin goes a long way.
Thinking back on your own past, can you recall those times of struggle and how you were never alone? We may not be rescued from the situation, but God gives us the tools, the friendships, and even a way out. How do we recognize these things? Words are easy to speak, but not so easy to live out.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.James 1:2-4
So many beautiful sights met our wondering eyes. The mantra kept running through my head, “One step at a time.” Coming home is usually about facing our demons one step at a time and letting Jesus change us from the inside out.
Each step was harder to take. My shoulders ached. Hope grew as we climbed higher through the canyon towards the South Rim. Miniature waterfalls tumbled from gray rocks, framed by the golds and greens of Fall. I had to stop and take it in on occasion. My eyes were laser-focused on reaching the South Rim by dark. Moments like this make you feel impatient to reach the end. Too much focus on the end makes you miss what you can absorb from the journey.
What I would have done differently is planned a third day of camping out, and camped out at Indian Gardens (5 mile mark) before tackling the beast up a canyon wall to the South Rim. Most of the remaining four something miles was steep switchbacks in the shadows of the canyon walls. The temperatures began to drop, but it was subtle. Three miles from the South Rim, I pulled on a sweater. My fingers tingled. My back ached. Tony kept stopping every few yards as fatigue made every step painful and hard.
I kept my eyes on the end. I made conversation with new friends. We shared the pain of our struggles up. Slowly and patiently, we passed the first arch. In the distance, the echo of the Grand Canyon Train gave us courage. It’s those little things–God moments–that give us the ability to finish the task we’re given.
I pulled ahead to another curve in a switchback and saw the last tunnel and the brown siding of a South Rim building. Less than a half a mile and we were coming home!
One of the things I did not do was to leave my partner behind. This was a first for us, and I wanted both of us to finish together as husband and wife.
At the end, I cried. To me, this symbolized the whole journey of raising up financial partners–keeping my focus on the end and yet taking note of the sights and sounds along the way, leaning heavily on God to prepare the way.
Hi friend, I’ll be in Cottonwood, Arizona tomorrow. I have the whole morning free if you would like to meet for coffee. If you leave a comment about that, I won’t see it. You’ll have to visit me at my twitter site or Facebook site to leave a message that you are interested in meeting.
I would love to share with you what God is doing through Social Media and Technology to reach the unreached, the unloved, and the unchurched.
I visited Chandler Bible in Chandler, Arizona on Friday, October 14, 2016. It was a great pleasure to teach them social media so they can better reach their neighborhood. Please pray for their continued efforts in social media.
When a friend started sharing with me an idea about a women’s ministry that is impulsive and creative, I jumped in. Of course, I volunteered to help with communications. We set up a Slack account because it is secure. When I sat down with other women in the group, I was encouraged by their response to having an online community.
Slack is different than texting. When you send a group text, and a person responds, every person on that text gets continual notification for hours or as long as the conversation endures. It takes more time to open a new text and rewrite a response or to share the activity you shared with others on a new text. Slack cuts out all the work.
You can have it on your phone and treat it like a text, or you can use it on your desktop and get notifications there. This kind of community is what every busy woman needs so they can experience good fellowship even if they can’t make every activity.
So if you live in the quad-city area, email me. If you have questions with how this works, I would be happy to explain it (if your intentions were to start a similar kind of group in your town). It’s ideal as a para-church ministry.