Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
I spent a good deal of time reading Luke this morning. What a glorious book! For whatever reason, I often forget why I do what I do. That, or I just simply make my relationship with God more about ministry and doing things rather than just enjoying the historical person of Jesus. The book opens with Jesus' proclamation of freedom for captives. The day of the Lord's favor, he says, has arrived! Then he models, teaches about, and embraces to His death, the upside-down kingdom. This upside-down kingdom is something, sadly, that I have given shockingly little credence to lately. For me, life has been about a power struggle in many ways; power and authority in the house, and power and authority with other Christians at church. My pride has elevated myself and demanded respect, admiration and worship, really. In complete honesty and brokenness, my heart has been crying, "I am a missionary, give me respect, look up to me!" Add along that the part of me saying, "Woe is me! We are raising support in this economic climate; I will mope around and hang my head. Perhaps that way we will get attention; perhaps we will get compassion." The wretchedness of my heart makes me virtually sick to my stomach. My selfishness and pride are crushing me. But Christ, this morning in Luke, has met me and tore that part of my heart wide open. He proclaims that greater is he that serves; the humbled shall be exalted, the weak shall be made strong, the one who is broken and crushed, he will be exalted. The least shall be greatest, and he that serves will be the most.
Lord, let me be the least; let me serve and love. Let me not look at Melissa and others and think "what has she done for me today?" but let me embrace the cross, embrace meekness, and declare "what can I do to let her know I love her? What can I do to let her know you are crazy about her and adore her, father?" Let me be broken; let me be a servant. Let me lay aside my rights, lay down my authority, lay down my pride and pick up your love. Let love flow from me in moments I am betrayed, and in moments in which my heart is crushed. Make me strong in you to passionately and vigorously love those that are nailing my very hands to the cross. Let me embrace those that spit in my face.
So, I urge you to consider setting your eyes on the freedom giver today, as I have. Behold, He is making all things new! Make our hearts new, Lord!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
I'm excited to say that in 2 short weeks, I will be cutting back to just 2 days a week at the law firm. We need the extra time to work on support. With having Noah, that complicates things, so it will help Bart have an extra day to get things done. And we're hoping I will be done all together in July. We just really want our support to come in. Please continue to pray for us. We really want to be doing ministry as soon as possible.
On a side note, anyone ever have trouble at night doing weird and random things that you're not wanting to do? It seems like it's becoming almost a nightly occurance where I am grabbing Bart or pulling the covers thinking Noah's in bed with us. And he never is! Am I losing it? Is it sleep deprivation? Any recommendations? Anyone else have this problem? Last night I remember in the middle of one of my excursions "looking" for Noah, Bart said "he's in his crib." I'm glad one of us is sane at night.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Oops! I think I left him a bit to long in his high-chair. Poor little buddy.
We had a tough day yesterday, him and I. He was just sort've cranky all day; as was I. Not good naps, didn't eat very well, and a few times he just threw hissy-fits if I took something away from him (like the computer cord or the camera). By the time Melissa got home from work, I admit I was relieved to pass him off. Perhaps that's not the greatest of servant-hearts, but I was cooked.
We just got back from Canton over the weekend, and we really had a good time. It was also a pretty productive weekend with support, so that's encouraging. We got to spend time with Savannah, Noah's 4 month old cousin, so that was nice; I'll have Melissa post some picture of the two of them, cause they sure are cuties. It was also nice to hang with the family. My brother had his "man shower" while the women went to his fiance's bridal shower. Really, we just played poker and ate meat; what could be more manly than feeding our faces carnivorously?
Currently I weigh 202 lbs, and feel pretty good about it. My goal is to be around 185ish by July, or at least that's what I set my goal to be on the WiiFit. The average is something like -2.7 lbs every two weeks, which is definitely doable.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I long for Heaven. I've been dabbling with the idea of brainstorm-writing narratives I keep imagining about Heaven. Fear, doubt and self-preservance have stopped me I believe, but I think perhaps I will do it soon. Some encouragement might help ;) Many books have been written about our eternal destination, a few accurately and many more terribly inaccurately, but I think I will enjoy it, so be on the look out for those in the next couple weeks.
We're heading to Canton this weekend, which should be fun. I'm going to try and sneak away in the mornings to get some work done, so I think the blog updates should remain, so keep coming back! My brother is having a "man-shower" while his betrothed has a much more traditional bridal-shower. I think we're playing poker, but I'm not sure. I haven't played poker in ages so this ought to be interesting. We also have about 5-7 support appointments this weekend, so if you could be praying for those, we would appreciate it a great deal. That's the most we've had in a while, so we're excited.
Thanks for reading. I'm humbled when I hear people actually read this thing. We are so blessed to have so many people around us that love us dearly. You shine the glory of Christ in our lives in that we deserve no friends and the wrath of God, yet get His grace in your friendships. Thanks.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
"Now if I understand the "Current Situation" blog correctly you are trying to raise money for Campus Crusades but in these hard economic times it is difficult and you are relying on a few churches and select people to keep it up. And that you seek their help both financially and preyerfully."
Right! Well, sort've. Essentially we're asking people to consider 'sponsoring' us. We're a non-profit organization, and the way those work are they rely on funding from outside people to provide for the business. All NPO's work that way. We sit down with people and churches and explain our ministry, plan, and heart behind what we do. We then ask if it's something they'd like to give to (or invest in).
"And that also God seems distant during these hard times. And the reply above mine leaves a quote about building with gold, a monetary tool, instead of hay and wood. Now this quote to me seems a little contradictory since you are seeking funds to do your ministry and wondering where gods help is when the funds are low and despair has set in. Will this not be a judgement passed upon you when that day comes then? "
This is a good question. However, we're not raising our funds for our ministry to "make a buck." Sure, through our financial partners we will have a salary, but just to give you a point of reference, our entire family will be bringing in around $30,000 annually; I'm sure you'd agree that we're definitely not in this for the money! The judgment would be on me if we were in despair due to a lack of surplus money, but on the contrary, our despair is wondering whether we will be able to raise the funds necessary to allow us to do ministry at all. Notice the difference? Now, we will be held accountable for that despair also, and in my blog I definitely was not trying to convey that lacking a trust in God's provision is a good thing. I think Bill's judgment was on others because he understands that we make very little. He was saying it's sad that people would rather horde their gold than give to something that will last for eternity. Make sense?
"Now my second question pertains to the blog called "faith vs. religion pt 2." Here you speak of people who pray for a good job and sickness. Now getting a good job is something I agree can be done on your own without God's help. But I also see prayning for this as a persons way of finding the strength to maintain in these hard economic times such as you are doing when you try to find funding for your minstry. Does the churches financial problems out weigh the average JOe's problems."
Prayer for a job is a great and necessary thing. I definitely did not mean to imply it was not, for the average Joe or for Pastor Joe. I was trying to say prayer for selfish reasons is near valueless. Note the word near. And part of your question I would challenge: when you say "finding the strength to maintain..." I would say it is that type of prayer that has very little value. We must never use God, or prayer, as a means to "feel good" or "find strength." It was those selfish ends that I was trying to address. Again, the difference is subtle, but do you see it?
"And if so then who is the church designed to help besides those with money. The churches you reach out to are for both prayer and funding. Is that not somewhat hypocritical of the first blog I mentioned."
I hope the above comments cleared up these questions. We do ask for prayer that our financial support would come in, but, again, it is not to be prosperous, but to live. Additionally, the prayer partners we try to raise (we hope and encourage anyways) spend very little time praying for our support, and the majority praying for students at OSU and around the world.
"Now as far as praying for someones health, I do not think their is one single thing wrong with that. You are the company you keep. I rarely pray, but when I do, I do it because it is something that is out of my control, such as cancer, and am seeking some help or guidance. Would you not put a sick friend or family memeber in your prayers everyday if they were sick and dying. Or would you just consider them to be a lost cause or going to a better place? If someone feels that praying for someones health is what cures them should they not utilize this for their own comfort at least?"
Prayer for health is a necessary and great thing! Again, I definitely did not wish to imply otherwise. I would pray for a sick family member every day. My advice was to not let that be the entirety of my prayer. And my advice was to caution against selfish prayers. Yes pray, because to do so is to be obedient. Let's not make God a genie lamp that we rub everytime we need to feel better was all i was trying to say. Again, please let me know if that doesn't make sense.
Man I was excited about these questions! I wish everyone would take the time to consider things like this. And on that note, everyone please read this comment to me also from people I admire a great deal. They quote a book I love and share a sentiment that beats deeply within my heart. My apologies that is was not conveyed (perhaps a knock on my writing talent!) re: Faith v. religion
I think of the first page in Philip Yancey's "What's So Amazing About Grace?" where the prostitute wanted to know where to go and when advised to go to church, she was horrified and said, "That's the last place I would go." I would love for our churches to be safe places where people "come as they are" ... whether or not they are certain or doubtful about their faith.
I know that your line "Go to church because you believe it to be true or you're a lying hypocrite before you even walk in the door" was intended for those who SAY they are believers but aren't walking the talk. But I have friends who are afraid to go to church because they don't yet believe it to be true ... but would like to learn more. COME. Don't hesitate ...come as you are ... bring your questions, doubts, frustrations about God, etc ... God is not afraid of them, He wants to hear them and walk you through them. "Believing Christianity to be true" is NOT a prerequisite for coming to church. I know you added the tag that it's also for curious people. I'm glad ... one of my desires is that people feel safe to explore their beliefs at church (as opposed to alienated because they don't feel like they have their ducks all in a row).
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
One sub-group for this poll were people that claimed to be "born again," people that have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ which is important in their life today, and are certian they are going to Heaven because Jesus has forgiven their sins. The answers of this group were what initially made me sad, because these are the people I, at least, would qualify as being Christians.
Less than half (46%) of this group believe in absolute moral truth. This wasn't initially shocking because of the sweeping cultural pressure to embrace relativism or post-modernism. It's no wonder evangelism is so lacking in the church, we don't even believe it absolutely!
79% of this group believe the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. This part of the poll, I'm gathering, was probably worded a bit funny. Do 79% believe the Bible is inerrant (without error in the original manuscripts) or are they simply adhering to the Bible's infallibility (unfailing in everything it teaches). Probably the latter, and 79% is not suprising. I'm sure I would grimace at the numbers revealing an inerrancy question....
40% of this group think Satan is a real being or force. This is totally contradictory to the previous question. If 79% believe the Bible is correct, then why do only 40% believe Satan is real since the Bible clearly teaches of a real Satan? This group is evidently either ignorant to what the Bible says, or very, very poor readers. Or worse, liars.
Similarly, 62% of this group think Jesus lived a sinless life. I wonder what in the world the other 38% are so confident in, regarding Heaven? If Jesus wasn't sinless what's the point? How can He save you when He hasn't saved himself?
All of this adds up to, for me, the conclusion that "born again" Christians are grossly ignorant of their own beliefs and have virtually no concrete worldview. No wonder we can barely keep our junk straight, we don't even know what we believe half the time! It seems half mysticism and half guesses. "Well, I think God..." Fill in the blank. Sheesh. It would be unreasonably foolish to just make up our own worldview with quasi christian parameters but it seems that's what we're doing. Half the time I can't blame atheists for believing Christians are ignorant because maybe we are!
Ok, perhaps that rant went a bit far, but the point remains. We need to read some more C.S Lewis and Francis Schaeffer. We need to listen to Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll because by and large we're woefully ignorant.
"You shall love the Lord you God with are your heart, strength, mind, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself." Let's embrace the mind.
Monday, April 06, 2009
This task, which we call Ministry Partner Development, or support raising, is often a tough one. We had no idea, when we joined staff long term in July, that we would begin to develop our financial partners on the verge of this great economic crisis. Praise the Lord that He is never in an economic downturn!
But it has been really difficult. This is not a mountaintop period in our lives. Frankly, lately, we often feel stuck in the wilderness. Hope often deserts us. We are overcome by doubt and frailty. God often seems distant. Where are you, Father? Why has our support not come in yet?
The desire of our hearts is to fulfill the Great Commission. We want to bring students worldwide to a place of decision about the risen Savior. We want everyone to hear the gospel and bow a knee to the king. Then, why, Lord, is this so hard? Shouldn't you bring our support in quickly?
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 brings us great solace.
"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
What a marvelous passage! Praise the Lord that this time of trial and hardship for Melissa and I will bring beyond it a goodness and strength in our character. We will be made perfect, rather, God's power will be made perfect by our weaknesses. When we are weak, He is strong. Students the world over will benefit from this tough time in our lives. Praise God's sovereignty.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
1. Absolute moral truth exists.
2. The Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches.
3. Satan is a real being or force, not merely symbolic.
4. A person cannot earn their way into heaven by trying to be good or do good works.
5. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth.
6. God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.
If you believe those six tenants, you have what the Barna Group's poll would describe as having a "Biblical Worldview."
The results may shock you. Only 9% of Americans believe these 6 things.
Read the full article here: http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/21-transformation/252-barna-survey-examines-changes-in-worldview-among-christians-over-the-past-13-years.
I will comment on a few things that struck me about the article in the next day or so. But, suffice it to say, that I believe that most Americans have a religion, but little faith (as described in the previous two posts).
Friday, April 03, 2009
Thursday, April 02, 2009
The difference is faith vs religion I think. Melissa and I have talked about this for quite some time with a great deal of people. Faith is what makes you move and think and be. It stirs your heart and is the core of who you are. Religion is just something you do. It's a hobby, a part-time thing that has no bearing on your inner-self. We most likely all know some religious people. They love to claim Christian values (usually no smoking/drinking type values which aren't Christian per se, but that's neither here nor there). They love to be seen at church and seen as important people in the church. They love to thump you with the Bible, though they've usually failed to search it for themselves, they're simply passing on information they've heard before. Often they belong to a particular denomination or sub-division within Christianity, and preach it to others, though really they've not researched, explored, or sought out anything other than their particular group.
I hesitate to say this, but they remind me of Muslims a great deal. When Melissa and I spent a year in Central Asia we daily ran into this type of Islam. Not the fanatical, but the kind that was based more on culture and religion than based on faith. They were Islamic because that's what they were raised. They adhered to it because, well, everyone else did. Few people prayed five times a day; fewer still took part in ramadan, the 40 day fast. Very, very randomly would we ever meet someone who desired and planned to journey to Mecca in their life (which is one the five pillars of Islam). Those people I loved interacting with. I would think, "finally, here is someone that is not completely hypocritical in their religious convictions."
Don't be religious. Be faithful. Don't go to church, be it Catholic, Assemblies of God, Methodist, Lutheran or whathaveyou. Go to church because you believe it to be true or you're a lying hypocrit before you even walk in the door. Or go because you're curious to know and explore what they believe. Or if you've stumbled across this blog, talk to me, I'd love to show you some faithful people, and talk of true faith in the risen Christ.
I'm going to post the next couple days on a few things that irk me about religious people and religious churches as opposed to faith-driven people and faith-driven churches.