Friday, July 27, 2012

Rapid Fire

The latest in the Shadle family:

-Portland was great.  Lots of good time planning out the next year, and being fed from the word.  I really feel like I reconnected with God in some sweet ways.  Very refreshing.

-Melissa and the kids picked me up at the airport holding signs with stickers.  It was heart-melting.  I love these guys so much.  They both ran to me and gave me big hugs.  It was awesome.

-The last two days Melissa and I have been packing up and moving quite a bit of our stuff to a storage unit in town.  This is becoming real!  I've been a bit sentimental about the move, which has surprised me a bit.

-We're heading to "touch-a-truck" in Westerville today.  The kids get to play in and "drive" fire trucks, ambulances, diggers, and whatever else you could think of.  It should be fun.

-I'm giving brief ministry updates to two churches the next two weeks.  I'd love your prayers!

-And we officially bought our tickets for Venezuela.  August 31st!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What is it with Jesus?

Something is different about that man. It is hard to argue otherwise. He has made a mark that noone else in history and claim. The mere mention of his name inspires feelings in others that are hard to fathom. The power is evident. I'm currently sitting in Portland, Oregon. Well, a hotel in Portland. We are at Stint team leader training, which is basically a week conference discussing and chatting about how best we can lead our teams next year overseas. The past couple days we've spent our afternoons downtown both trying to get to know Portland and trying to have some spiritual conversations with people we ran into. I decided to talk to this one girl that was obviously homeless and holding a sign that said something to the effect of "kindness can make a difference." We talked for a while. My heart broke the more and more of her story I heard. She grew up in Fresno. Left home shortly after high school, and began the vagabond life. She moved to Chicago, and then gradually made her way West until she eventually made it to Portland. She has no plans, no goals, and and virtually no family. She had a boyfriend who was playing a rickety old broken guitar to try and get some money for them to eat, or more likely, the money was for their next drug fix. I just began to be really sad for this girl that lived under one of the bridges downtown. I asked about the spiritual lives of people in Portland. "So, what are people like spiritually in Portland?" She immediately tensed up and a quick change came upon her. "I don't want to talk about Jesus. Just leave me alone. You should go." I tried to gently probe. Then, and more than a couple times, I apologized on behalf on Jesus and Christianity. It was obvious she had been hurt by someone who was supposed to be representing Jesus. "I'm just really sorry, I said. It seems like you have not had very good conversations about this before and that just makes me really sad. It's definitely not what Jesus would have wanted. I'm so sorry you've had a bad experience with Christians." It was as though she didn't even here me. We apologized on behalf of Christians everywhere, not for talking about Jesus, but that it was obvious she had had a pretty bad experience with the church. But the whole encounter got me thinking. What is it about Jesus? Perhaps the story is a bad example. That woman's emotional reaction to Jesus probably has more to do with her interaction with people that are supposed to be representing Jesus than they do with the actual, historical Jesus. But I still think the question remains. Would anyone react in a similar way to Alexander the Great? Or Nero? Or Cyrus of Persia? Has anyone ever had dreams haunted by Julius Caesar or Polpot? Has the very dating system we use been changed by Napolean, or Hitler, or any other throughout history? I think I know the answer. What's yours?

Monday, July 09, 2012

I've been having a good day.  I'd like to see if I can process a few of the more potent thoughts running through my head:

1. Grace is really good.  Every so often I am just drawn by the Spirit back into grace.  It may seem weird since I'm in full-time ministry, but the gospel of grace is just one that I forget so often.  Maybe it's because I'm a dad of a 3 and 2 year old and am perpetually in the "you need to do this" and "don't do that" sort of world, but it's super easy for me to fall into a check-list for God.  Since I'm a Christian, I think, I need to do X, Y, and Z today and then I'll feel good.
I've just been reminded today that I am a sinner saved by grace.  Nothing good in or of itself has come from me, but only what God has graciously bestowed or given.  I have been ransomed by the blood of the cross, and that cross grants me forgiveness and removes me sins as far as the east is from the west.  This is great news, and has been replenishing my heart today.

2. The Gospel needs preached.  I read an article in Christianity Today called "You can't preach the gospel with deeds and why it's important to say so" and it really just reaffirmed why I love being on staff with Cru.  Lots of people cite St. Francis of Assisi as saying, "Preach the gospel at all times.  Use words if necessary" and then use that to back up a claim that our major witness for the gospel needs to be our deeds, and not our words.  Well, (nevermind that the people who would know about St. Francis, the Franciscans, have no recollection of him ever saying that) says the author Duane Litfin, it just can't happen.  Nor is it even very biblical.  We needs words and deeds, but the gospel can never be preached simply by deeds.  He says, and I like this, "The gospel is inherently verbal, and preaching the gospel is inherently verbal behavior.  If the gospel is to be communicated at all, it must be put into words."
Again, it makes me love that I'm on staff with an organization that has tried to be on the front lines of gospel proclamation.

3. Financial partner development (or support raising) is a tough task, but honestly a pretty enjoyable one for me.  I've already had a few conversations this morning which were really encouraging.  People are behind our ministry and praying hard and giving quite a bit.  We are so grateful for our partners.  And to God's grace.