If you have been around Bill and me for very long, you have probably heard about our weekly hikes. Believe it or not, for years we have consistently asked the same basic questions every time we get together. We've become good friends over the years, but more importantly I believe we've become better people.
The practice of hiking together is play for us. As we walk shoulder to shoulder, up and down hills, through the trees, and by the waterfall, we are able to lay down our internal shields and weapons of defensiveness down. With open minds, hearts, and wills, we can then hear and respond to God.
Every week we intentionally choose simple, specific actions to take, based on shared Bible passages, our stories of resistance and/or responsiveness to God, and current circumstances. Over time, little by little, God is changing us, forming Christ in us. Bill and I are not special, nor have we arrived. We are just two ordinary people choosing to hear, trust, and obey God, while hiking and talking together.
An Invitation to Life-giving Conversations
We invite you to join us in being the church with each other. Find someone and have a soul-connecting and life-transforming spiritual conversation consistently over time, years even. Every person on the planet needs a friend who loves Jesus. You need that, and you can be that friend for someone.
If you don't know how or if you are somehow stuck, Bill and I might be able to help. That's why we began Play. Story. Eat., to share our experiences with you and learn from yours. Please consider hosting or attending a Play. Story. Eat. Experience near you.
A Virtual Tour of Steve and Bill's Hikes
Several have asked us about what we do, so I thought I'd take you to the nature trail in Parkville, Missouri, on a typical Bill and Steve hike to give you a feel for how we use the PSE questions.
"Mornin'!" I greeted Bill as we got out of our cars.
"Hey," Bill acknowledged as he walked around his car and I pushed against my back bumper to stretch my calves.
"Did your Missouri Tigers win on Saturday?" I asked.
"Yes, but it was ugly," Bill answered. "How about your Okie State Cowboys?"
"No. They lost in a barn burner to OU."
"Sorry man. Well, what can you be grateful for this morning?" Bill asked, kicking us into our first PSE question.
"I'm grateful that Nola and I got to go up to Omaha last weekend to see the grandkid," I answered. "I don't know how he does it, but he knows exactly what to say to wrap us around his pinky! What about you?"
"Well, I'm grateful for getting to hike yesterday with Justin. We had a great conversation."
"Cool," I responded. Then flowing to the next PSE question, I asked, "What are you concerned about this week?"
"I am really worried about my friend Henry. He's struggling physically and emotionally. Plus just getting all the tasks done before the end of the year. And all my family is moving in for the week of Christmas. I'm excited, but the preparation is a load, especially on Joyce," Bill answered. "How about you?"
"I'm right there with you on getting those tasks done. I'm also worried about Mom. She fell last week and messed up her knee; she is really hurting."
After further descriptions of Mom's struggles, Bill directed upwards. "Let's pray," he said, and he began to pray out loud for me and my concerns. I then reciprocated. At a couple of times during our prayer, we met up with people on the trail, and paused briefly to say "Hi" and then continued as we kept walking.
We Are Accountable
Once I finished praying, Bill asked, "What act of obedience did you commit to the last time, and how did it go?"
"The last time we were together, we were talking about the verse on how we need to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Out of that, I felt like I needed to call John to encourage him. So, I did call him, and he told me more of what he is dealing with. I think we were both glad that we got to talk. How about you?"
"The part of that verse that I was struck with last time was the part that said 'let us consider how to spur one another on.' I felt like I needed to focus on the word 'consider' and really think about my friend Justin. That spirit flowed into our walk yesterday, because I wanted to listen and lighten his load. When I'm wrapped up in my agenda, it's hard to really hear what's going on with someone else. I did OK."
"Good deal," I affirmed. Then moving to the next question, I asked, "Who did you tell your change story to this week?"
"Three Js: Justin, Jane, and Jan," Bill answered. "What about you?"
"I did with my Man-Up group last Wednesday night."
Time to Hear and Obey God's Story
"Cool. So what scripture do you want to consider?" Bill asked, keeping us moving.
"Speaking of our Man-Up group, we were talking about Jesus' parable of the lost sheep," I said.
"What did the passage say?" Bill prompted.
"Jesus was eating with tax collectors and sinners, and the Pharisees and teachers of the law couldn't believe Jesus would lower himself to do that. So Jesus tells a story. He said, 'Suppose you have 100 sheep and you lose one. Isn't it logical that you would leave the 99 and go look for the lost one? And then when you find that sheep, you throw it on your shoulders and take it back to the fold and then out of joy you invite your friends to celebrate the fact that you found your lost sheep.'"
"What does it mean?" Bill asked.
"Jesus told the story to say that lost people matter to God. And since God rejoices over one sinner who repents, He wants those of us already in the fold to also welcome those who are outside and lost to join us as we follow Jesus' example."
"What do you need to do about it?" Bill challenged.
"This week I need to reach out to my neighbor across the street. I think he probably sees me as a religious, Pharisee-type person. When I see him this week, I need to talk with him and listen to how he is doing. Eventually I'd like to invite him and his wife over to dinner sometime, but that feels a little too much on the first contact. So this week I will have a conversation with him, and while doing it I want to value him as a person God cares about."
The Process in Full
There are three other questions we ask before we pray with one another, asking God to give us the courage and the strength to obey Him and follow through on our commitments. If you would like to see the whole list of questions/activities, click here!
10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)
Continue to pray for the Open Range teams that will be going to Guatemala January 3-9 and 10-16. And pray for the Play. Story. Eat. training events January 4th in Guatemala and January 6th in Oak Grove, MO. If all works as planned, we will have Renato, our Brazilian friend, joining us in Guatemala. Please pray that the communication between Spanish and Portuguese works well.
This is the last week to get your end-of-year giving done for 2017. Thanks for your continued generosity and your investment in this ministry!
Please consider joining us at the next Play. Story. Eat. Experience.
- When: Saturday, January 6th, 9 am - 5 pm
- Where: Cross Creek Baptist Mission, 1050 SW 15th St., Oak Grove, MO 64075
- What: Plenty of Fun, Connecting, & Eating; Lunch & Snacks Included
- Cost: No Fees - Donations Accepted