No Excuses…

I just ran across this quote on the blog of a guy named Octavio that I thought is a great one for our situation here: “The Devil says: “keep on posing problems and you will escape the necessity of obedience” (Bonhoeffer – The Cost of Discipleship).”

How often Satan uses our questions and lack of trust to keep us from walking forward in faith! “We don’t have all the answers, so let’s just wait and see… How will we pay for that… Let’s get all our t’s crossed and i’s dotted, then we can… You’ll make someone mad… You’ll split the church… So-and-so will stop giving…”

What if we stopped being so concerned with HOW we will do something, and figure out WHAT God wants us to be and WHY He’s placed us right here, right now in the midst of the particular needs that surround us? What if we stopped listenning to the lie of Satan that tells us to keep bringing up problems that will let us off the hook? What would simple obedience really look like?

Connection…

According to an article in Time Magazine back in March, over 20,000 people die every single day due to extreme poverty. With natural disasters and terrorist strikes and wars, we always have headlining accounts of the dozens or hundreds or thousands who’ve died in those tragedies. But can you imagine waking up to your morning news show or paper to this headline: “LACK OF BASIC NECESSITIES LEAVES TWENTY THOUSAND DEAD”? We could wake up to that every day…

As this reality was shared with our students at CIY a couple weeks ago, they were given the opportunity to respond by sponsoring a child through the ministry of Compassion. The ministry of Compassion is “releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.”

In the past, our students have sponsored children as a group, but that takes little real commitment and develops very little connection, so I told our kids if they wanted to do this, it was up to them individually. Instead of our group supporting one child, about half a dozen students each are now sacrificing $32 a month from their part-time jobs or allowances to sponsor children.

Here are some comments from one of the girls, who now sponsors a little boy in Bangladesh (she wrote this for our gruop devotions one of the nights of our trip in AZ)…

…my spiritually moving story is about the boy I decided to sponsor. Out of the few I scanned on the table, he was the only one I felt I needed to sponsor. I felt a connection with him, as in a special bond. I feel I need to support him. I feel a love for a little boy that I don’t even know.

I don’t want this boy to grow up in poverty and without food. I can’t give him everything. I can only give him what he needs and tell him about God.

We can’t be tempted into thinking we can do it all. God will show us what to do, how to do it, and when it needs to be done. God wants us to follow Him.

That is why I do what I do. Students loving outside of themselves becuase the love of God compels them to do so… The “love for a little boy that I don’t even know”… The desire to do something, anything, to help someone else…

She’s right. We can’t do everything. My sponsorship of a child or two is not going to end world hunger. But it’ll make a difference to a few.

Go make a difference.
(the link to Compassion might be a good place for you to start)

Back from the Desert…


Well, we have been back from Arizona for a few days, and I’ve almost unpiled everything to be caught up on. The trip went very well. The week of CIY was awesome and the week of work with ARM topped it off!

God really worked in our hearts and is definitely moving in his body. This is one of my favorite pictures so far that Tory took. These kids are so hungry to be cared for. It was awesome to see our students reaching out to them with a love that can only be motivated by God.

Working Hard

We had our first experience yesterday with the bus ministry here at ARM. We went to one of the neighborhoods with the bus and Kirby. We got to see some of the Apache kids and get a better feel for the ministry of ARM. It was great to see our kids interacting with the Apache kids and just trying to show the love of Jesus to them.

This morning, we went to a worksite and did what you do at work sites…we worked. ARM is building a house for a Apache minister and his family who pretty much turned his own house into a church building. His story is amazing, but the short version is that He came to follow God in prison, went home after his sentence and became a pastor to his people, with a willingness to sacrifice anything in service. Dustin headed up a crew that put up walls, which will soon be two stories of Sunday school classes. Dave and Emily’s crew hauled out enough brush and debri from the area behind the house to fill several truckloads…big truckloads. And they did it one wheelbarrow at a time. Several of the girls were working inside the house, spraying texture and sanding. Tomorrow, we’ll paint.

They all stink and they’re back at the hotel cleaning up a bit… and Suzie’s trying really hard to make me take a ride in her Mustang, so I better go.

Keep praying for the Apache people.

I AM…here.

Lazarus was dead and Mary and Martha wanted to know where Jesus had been. “Why didn’t you stop this from happening? Where were you?” In the midst of their anguish, they wondered why He didn’t do something to ease their pain.

But Jesus knew that life is not about comfort. He knew His Father had something better in mind. So he wept with them, then called their brother back from the dead!

CIY today is about His presence – even in our struggles. His work, through even the most painful experiences, to strengthen our faith and increase our capacity to bring glory to Him with our lives. I can’t help but thinking of Steve as we’ve discussed this today. His story of his son Max… Check out the link to his blog (Breath Fire) for a picture of finding God’s presence in the midst of struggle.

Whatever may be falling apart in our lives, God would say to us, “I am here.”

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Last night’s main session went great. Dusty Frizzell talked about how life gets messy, and we fail, and God pours out His grace. He made a comment about Jesus messing up the way we think our lives should be and then we just don’t know what to do. Like he did with the disciples. Just when they think he’s gained enough attention to take over town, he goes and gets himself crucified! “Now what, Peter!?”

“I don’t know, you guys wanna go fishin’?”

Check out John 21 to see how Jesus led them beyond normal because of his grace (especially Peter).

I AM…love…I AM grace…

Finally got to a point of time and availability where I can send out an update (i.e. I’m not currently piloting a 15 passenger silver bullet).

I’m in Durango this week with the CIY group. The drive out was pretty long, but we’re here. We stopped yesterday at Royal Gorge – the world’s highest suspension bridge. It was awesome. The river below is, well…. it’s WAY below. Shaun and Dan and Cady and I all did the Skycoaster. 1200 feet above the canyon floor suspended in a harness on a cable, “swooping” by at about 50 mph! It was quite a swing… After that, the drive over the pass and through the canyon was incredible. I love being back in the mountains.

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The theme for the week of conference is “This is me” – God revealing Himself to us. Today we’ve gazed into the depth of His grace. He truly is grace and love, which was the focus of last night’s first session.

I’ve really been hit with how I strive for perfection in so many things. I don’t want to show any holes, I don’t want to not know something that I should, I don’t want to need… Often that ambition for perfection is a pathetic attempt to earn God’s love – or at least to make myself worth loving. What a stupid way to live. He has already made me worth loving and nothing I do can change that.

Heading Out Soon…

I’ll be leaving Sunday for a couple weeks, so I’m not sure I’ll have a chance to post for a while. When I can get access to a computer, I’ll try to keep things updated.

I’ll be taking a group of high school students to Durango, CO for a week long CIY conference. Christ in Youth is a great organization that’s shaping the future and the present by impacting youth and youth ministries is some awesome ways. (I’ll be teaching an elective class this summer 3 times at conference, so pray that goes well.)
let the children come...
Following the week of conference, our group will head down to Globe, AZ for a week working with some good friends of mine at Arizona Reservation Ministries on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. I’m looking forward to seeing Tory & Kara and Duane & Susie again, but mostly I’m really anticipating God working in our students and bringing them to new levels of love for people.

Take Up Your Cross

Many have already heard the popular quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that says, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

Indeed, Jesus calls us to ‘take up our cross’ if we are to follow him. Can you imagine being lost out in the desert alone? No water. No food. No hope for survival. Suddenly a man steps from behind a rock and tells you to follow. So you follow. As you talk, you discover that he’s been here in this desert for quite some time. He must know how to survive!

Then he hits you with the truth. He’s survived the desert because he died there. What? He knows the secret to living where no man can live – you have to die!

That scenario just doesn’t make sense does it? You can’t live if you’ve already died.

But that’s exactly what Jesus did and exactly what he is doing and exactly what he calls us to do. Where we may say “You can’t be alive if you’re dead.” He says “You can’t really live until you’ve died.”

What do you think?

Father’s Day

I had a nice, relaxing Father’s Day yesterday. I love being a dad. Our youngest son climbed out/fell out of his crib after nap time, so we pulled out the old toddler bed. Our 3 yr. old son fell in the toilet while playing in the sink, so I threw him in the tub – he hadn’t flushed yet! Our daughter actually had a fairly benign day with no major melt-downs.

My wife and I wondered what we did before we had kids. I said homework and quick trips to Estes Park… But I understand a little more fully, the love of God for His children – now that I have my own.

I love the kids in my youth ministry. I pray for them and would do just about anything to see them loving God more completely. But nothing compares to the way I feel about my own kids. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for them. To see them passionately pursuing their God given ministry will be more joy to me than anything I can imagine.

I thank God for the Godly father he provided for me. I pray I’ll follow the example he has been for my brothers and me, of a man pursuing His Father as he leads his family through the unknown.