Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Reminds me of a great tweet from Mark Batterson (also a favorite!) which said, "Living at the intersection of gratitude for what God has done, and anticipation for what God is going to do."
Here is Fred's article:
Aging is good in many ways. For example, I am able to see the hand of God more clearly in my circumstances. But, this doesn’t mean I have extra-sensory-perception, nor do I read tea leaves. In fact, just the opposite is true. For years, I wondered why I could not see God’s plan going forward as distinctly as I could looking back. (As you get older, you have a great body of experience to look back upon….) Then it hit me, I must go forward in faith, and then He allows me to look back in knowledge. Faith is validated backwards.
Remember what C.S. Lewis supposedly said when queried about his first response to heaven? “Oh, now I understand,” is his reported reply. The Apostle Paul confirms this when he talks about seeing through a glass darkly, but then face to face. We grew up in a most polluted part of North Nashville. The coal soot made everything black……we thought Paul must have lived in our neighborhood when we read of his dark glasses!
When I look back, I am struck by conversations, coincidences, and contacts that seemingly were insignificant at the time. A casual word of encouragement, a pointed question, or a connection with another were just ordinary happenings. In retrospect, they were often the most meaningful for me or someone else.
I believe God wants us to dedicate our lives, not just volunteer them. The dedicated person gives up control, saying “I’m available to you. You do with me what you want to do.” The volunteer, on the other hand, bargains. “I’d like to have a significant business platform. I will take the small testimony spots on the program until I get the “Headliner for Jesus” position.” Or, “I think I could serve you best as the pastor of a really large church. I will pay my dues, serve the small congregation until something more important opens up, and then really set the world on fire!” That is availability on our own terms.
When we leave it in God’s hands, we never know what will happen. As one who very much dislikes surprises, it was hard for me to let go. But I am enjoying the serendipity of the Spirit more these days.
Ed Hayden was a Dallas oil man. He discovered the power of God’s plan. He experienced the joy of seeing God work through him as he dedicated much time and energy to Bill Glass and the prison ministry.
At his funeral, a poorly dressed man slowly moved toward the casket. He spoke in broken English. I stood by as he leaned over Ed and kissed his forehead. I later learned this man came to know Jesus because Ed stopped to talk with him in his cell. This man, now released, has dedicated his life to the gospel.
I bet Ed didn’t go home that day telling his wife he had changed a man’s life. Maybe he didn’t even get to look backwards, but God had work for Ed to do that day. Ed went in faith.
The question came to me, “Who will kiss your forehead in gratitude because you pointed them to Christ and a spiritual experience?”
Think about: 1) Whose life impacted my spiritual walk? 2) How hard is it for me to live by faith? 3) What strikes me about God when I look back?
Words of Wisdom: “I must go forward by faith, and look backward in knowledge.”
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Janelle Elizabeth Hager (a.k.a. "angel sweetie pie")
Monday, July 27, 2009
Some things need a couple readings to grasp; maybe I'm just tired, but this one took a lot of concentrated effort, but so worth the time:
“For our transgressions was He wounded and for our sins He died. His were the ocean depths of wrath that stayed our plunge to the Lake of Fire. Now we can bear God’s sight because of Him who knew its loss.”
- Geoffrey T. Bull, The City and the Sign (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Book House, 1970), 92.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
The July 13 issue of Time had a cover story titled "Unfaithfully Yours," of course focusing on Mark Sanford and John Ensign.
Here's part of the article:
"During the press conference in which he admitted his affair, Mark Sanford warbled that he had broken 'God's law," a sentiment that served only to emphasize the narcissism that had gotten him in trouble. Wrestling with God's law had apparently been the subject of many of his Bible-study group, a seminar that may have spent a little too much time on the Song of Solomon, given Sanford's e-mailed encomium of his lover's physique...Sanford told reporters the affair had begun 'very innocently,' which reveals that he still hasn't been honest with himself about the willfulness of his actions. When a married man begins a secret, solicitous correspondence with a beautiful and emotionally needy single woman, he has already begun to cheat on his wife.
Just a week before, another blue-blazered elected official - Senator John Ensign of Nevada - was forced to make a similar confession, although he left God out of it, which must have been a nice break for the Almighty. Ensign had done 'the worst thing'...'I violated the vows of my marriage.' The mood on both occasions was funereal; it might have been touching to see two such buttoned-up guys welling with tears if the corpses weren't their political careers.
The one thing both men refused to admit was that, back in the heyday of these affairs, they must have been having a blast...
In the e-mails exchanged between the governor and his girlfriend, they trip over themselves to praise each other's virtues...These two humanitarians were engaged not only in worshipping each other's high mindedness but also in destroying another woman's home, hobbling her children emotionally and setting her up for humiliation of titanic proportion. The squalor and pain that resulted from the Sanford and Ensign midlife crises make manifest a bleak truth that the late writer Leonard Michaelson once observed in his journal: 'Adultery is not about sex or romance. Ultimately, it is about how little we mean to one another.'"
The whole article is worth reading...
Friday, July 24, 2009
All should enjoy this...but I especially give a shout out to all those campers who have spent a week with me this summer...whether in Missouri, Wisconsin, or Nebraska! Remember I recommended you read "Crazy Love" by Frances Chan...this short video from Frances should whet your appetite!
After camp closed I drove into Phillipsburg, Ks (where Jane and I lived for the first 2 1/2 years of our marriage) and enjoyed pizza with an old friend.
At around 9:00 pm I began trying to stuff my newsletter. I type "try" because the envelopes, which Jane and the kids had labeled and stuffed with return envelopes a couple weeks ago, had gotten too warm and were sticking shut...and I was growing a tad frustrated (okay, more than a tad) having to slow down and try to carefully open the envelope so I could get my newsletter in it.
Does it appear to you that I forgot something?
I had spent a whole session telling the students that it was clearly God's will that we "pray without ceasing," and that we "cast all our cares on Him."
Now here I was steaming instead of praying...
But God, But God, But God...had mercy and reminded me that I ought to pray; I did, and, amazing coincidence...the envelopes are easy to open...now.
God is gracious.
I am loved.
Even in my stupidity. Even in my tiredness. Even in my missing my family.
And, yeah, so are you!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now...When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.
(Clive Staples) C. S. Lewis
Sunday, July 19, 2009
“Be sure you see this most wonderful and astonishing of all truths: God took the record of all your sins that made you a debtor to wrath . . ., and instead of holding them up in front of your face and using them as the warrant to send you to hell, God put them in the palm of his Son’s hand and drove a spike through them into the cross. It is a bold and graphic statement: He canceled the record of our debt . . . nailing it to the cross (Col. 2:14).”- John Piper
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Thanks to fellow staffer Andred Johnson for capturing this, which occured 7/8/09. Ah, the joys of youth ministry. As I type, Thurday, discoloration and swelling is virtually gone; still on four different eye drops several times a day, thus vision is poor because of dilation etc..but it seems to be healing well. Major issue is not getting bumped, hit and thus reopening interior of eye bleeding. Pray for this as I am in Tennessee for Jane's parets fiftieth with about 8 adults and 18 children! Yikes!
Sunday, July 12, 2009
So last week I get clobbered by a slingshotted waterballoon and am ordered (after E.R. and specialist) to lay low. Tomorrow, Monday, I go in for a check up to get prognosis. On four different eyedrop medications; swelling is down, skin is going through a rainbow of colors, zippo pain.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
"[Grace is] my favourite word in the lexicon of the English language. It's a word I'm depending on. The universe operates by Karma, we all know that. For every action there's an equal and opposite reaction. There is some atonement built in: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Then enters Grace and turns that upside down. I love it. I'm not talking about people being graceful in their actions but just covering over the cracks. Christ's ministry really was a lot to do with pointing out how everybody is a screw-up in some shape or form, there's no way around it. But then He was to say, well, I am going to deal with those sins for you. I will take on Myself all the consequences of sin. Even if you're not religious I think you'd accept that there are consequences to all the mistakes we make. And so Grace enters the picture to say, I'll take the blame, I'll carry the cross. It is a powerful idea. Grace interrupting Karma."
Bono, in U2 by U2, page 300.
Friday, July 10, 2009
It deals with pastoral priorities (or lack thereof), satanic deception, human stupidity, church follies, faithful saints, teen pregnancy, and many more subjects in an entertaining, edifying, and hopeful way.
I recommend it! As always, if you order it (or anything else) from Amazon by clicking the link below a (small) percentage will go to me. As we continue to subsist solely on missionary support your efforts will be helpful, and are needed.
Well, in my never ending drive to educate, I searched diligently for an accurate picture, but could not find one, but this one is very close.
We aren't too bright...a couple years ago a balloon broke an oar that was held up in defense. Ah, youth workers may not be candidates for MENSA after all...
"Let us not dictate to God. Many a blessing has been lost by Christians not believing it to be a blessing, because it did not come in the particular shape which they had conceived to be proper and right. To some the divine work is nothing, unless it assumes the form which their prejudice has selected."
Jeremiah Lanphier, Alone With Jesus, page 88.
“Imagine that your prayer is a poorly dressed beggar reeking of alcohol and body odor, stumbling toward the palace of the great king. You have become your prayer. As you shuffle toward the barred gate, the guards stiffen. Your smell has preceded you. You stammer out a message for the great king: ‘I want to see the king.’
Your words are barely intelligible, but you whisper one final word, ‘Jesus, I come in the name of Jesus.’ At the name of Jesus, as if by magic, the palace comes alive. The guards snap to attention, bowing low in front of you. Lights come on, and the door flies open. You are ushered into the palace and down a long hallway into the throne room of the great king, who comes running to you and wraps you in his arms.
The name of Jesus gives my prayers royal access. They get through. Jesus isn’t just the Savior of my soul. He’s also the Savior of my prayers. My prayers come before the throne of God as the prayers of Jesus. ‘Asking in Jesus’ name’ isn’t another thing I have to get right so my prayers are perfect. Is it one more gift of God because my prayers are so imperfect.”
—Paul Miller, A Praying Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress 2009), 135
Thursday, July 9, 2009
This will be more info than you need; but last evening at camp we staff members sailed various craft on the lake whilst teenagers shot at us with rather large slingshots. Two students held the "arms" of the sling, while another pulled the water balloon back in the large bands and fired away! Great fun...
Until Jessica, riding in the paddleboat with me, got hit and let out a "ouch." I turned to see how bad it was and, smack! A direct hit and a high velocity. I knew I was out of commission, did not lose consciousness; paddled in, was taken to ER, then to an opthomologist; then sent back to camp (arriving after 2) and being picked up by Jane in the morning and then seeing another doctor this afternoon.
I do have "traumatic hyphema". The doctors (who tell me the two offices, Kansas City and St Joe, have had a bit of fun discussing HOW it happened...) are cautiously optimistic that there won't be any permanent loss; as long as I follow directions...which means for the next several days virtual bed rest. The hope is to prevent any more bleeding from developing between the cornea and the iris.
There are also some bone fractures which should heal in time; the only need for surgery being if an eye muscle gets stuck in one.
So there are a few things to pray for: me to obey the doc (I will, and jane will ensure compliance!); for a quick and total healing, and for peace for the students involved. I was able to speak to the 90 plus campers before I left, and I told them it was an accident, but many still feel badly about it.
We are to leave Tuesday for Tennesee to celebrate Jane's parents fiftieth; along with the other three children and most of the grandchildren. Then I have two weeks of camp speaking...which the doc says I will be able to do, though dependent on the status of my healing I may be very limited in physical activity.
God is sovereign. In comparison to so many things this is minor, but I deeply appreciate you, and your prayers.
I was in a paddle boat with our staff member Jessica Bass. After a few near misses she gets clobbered on the knee...now, understand, the balloons are RAPID! She lets out a yelp, I turn to see if she is okay, BOOM, a projectile smashes into the left side of my head.
To spare details, end up going to Emergency Room, then to an Opthomologist...looks like I got in a bar fight; there are a few fractures...will need to take it easy for several days...will see another doctor later today. Will keep you posted!
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
In other camps I know many of the campers (repeat offenders!) from years past, but this one allows me to interact with students with whom I have an ongoing relationship, rather than just once every couple years (other than internet - blog, facebook, twitter, etc)
So tonight we will address the topic of "family." And in the audience will be a young girl who, less than a year ago, saw the aftermath of her mother killing her dad. There will be students whose introduction to drugs came at the hands of their "parents." (there is no such thing as an illegitimate child; there are far too many illegitimate parents). There will be the "normal" herd of teens who do the "every-other-weekend-thing."
And, thankfully, there will be many students who live in a home where Mom and Dad love each other, love their children, and love the Lord.
Pray with us that the God of all comfort is very present tonight; that students in screwed-up homes realize they can break the chain, and that teens in good and Godly homes are encouraged to thank their Lord, as well as their parents; and will realize "to those whom much has been given, much will be required."
As always, thank you for praying. Pray also that I, and all of us in vocational youth ministry, don't get hardened to all this, pardon me, crap.
Well, no, not THAT kind...this was while waiting for a meal at Crescent Lake Bible Camp last week...students/counselors began the pyramid and decided to top it off with son Jacob. He was a little leery...but at their encouragement rose to the occasion! (It was four rows high)
In the movie, "What A Girl Wants," teenage Daphne is trying to be someone she's not. At one point, her boyfriend asks, "Why are you trying so hard to fit in, when you were born to stand out?"
Blending in is not the forte of teens alone. Adults become part of the herd...even the "Christian" herd all too readily.
Live life for the Audience of One as a sacrificial service of worship to Him and Him alone...and don't shackle yourself with the shabby clothing of "normality."
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
I've introduced campers to Celtic Thunder both last year and this; but this is rapidly becoming my favorite.
Obviously written of a horizontal love; the words easily can be interpreted as the longings of a redeemed person sung to the Redeemer.
I am struck also, early in the clip, when the dad of the then-14-year-old vocalist almost loses it in appreciation, admiration, and awe.
I wonder if I ever cause my heavenly Father to weep for other than dumb reasons?
Saturday, July 4, 2009
In a couple hours we will head to Madison, Wi for the night; and then to Super C at Polo, Mo for another week.
It has been a fantastic two weeks. There is something indefinably blessed about Crescent Lake. I first came here in 1979 to do a winter retreat; and have been here just about every other year since.
I've spoken at somewhere around 40 - 50 camps; and CLBC is by far our favorite. Some camps have better "toys" and such; but CLBC has, well, a "Presence", a peace, an arena for ministry that is not matched.
Why? My guess is because 75 years ago two pastors knelt by the lakeside and asked God to enable them to build a camp that would reach lost youth and disciple teen Christians. Their pleas were heard and singularly answered...and that heavenly answer continues.
If you have ever been at CLBC, I imagine you know what I mean. If you haven't, and you are ever near Rhinelander, Wi; I urge you to visit. It's not the staff (or certainly the speaker), it's not the "administration" (I've been through four or five directors).....it is some fingerprint of God that I can't define.
Pray for the senior high campers as they return to "real life 101." Camp, any camp, is great; it is a taste of heaven; but it is not "real." Now the students go back to the war zone. "God our banner" goes before them, but I pray they "fix their eyes on Jesus" as they go.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Al Mohler on the Gov. Sanford situation:
Put simply, Governor Sanford's most recent comments point to a worst-case scenario. His words make clear that his heart is still inclined toward his mistress, and not his wife. With tragic candor, the governor has spoken of trying to fall back in love with his wife. He refers to his mistress, not his wife, as his soul mate, and speaks wistfully of the affair as "a love story at the end of the day."
Governor Sanford may cite King David, and he may even suffer the illusion that his response is similar to that of Israel's King. Nevertheless, the difference is clear. David's adultery was mixed even with murder, but his own acknowledgment of sin came in a flood of contrition, remorse, broken heartedness, and humility. David acknowledged the reality of his sin, expressed his hatred of the sin, and became a model for us all of repentance. Governor Sanford, on the other hand, demonstrates the audacity to speak wistfully of his sin, longingly of his lover, and romantically of his descent into unfaithfulness.
Governor Sanford is no King David, and the people of South Carolina -- as well as the watching world -- now observe the sad spectacle of a man who, while admitting to wrongdoing, shows no genuine repentance. As the Christian church has long recognized, true repentance is reflected in the "detestation of sin." This is a far cry from what we've heard from Governor Sanford.
If the governor is really serious about demonstrating character to his four sons, he should resign his office and give himself unreservedly to his wife and family. He must show his sons -- and all who have eyes to see -- how a man is led by the grace and mercy of God to hate his sin, rather than to love it. Until then, the governor must be understood to indulge himself in wistfulness for his affair and in a desperate determination to maintain his office. His remaining days in office are like a Greek tragedy unfolding into farce. The whole picture is just unspeakably sad.
“Perhaps Christians are leaving the church because it isn’t tolerant and open-minded. But perhaps the church-leavers have their own intolerance too—intolerant of tradition, intolerant of authority, intolerant of imperfection except their own. Are you open-minded enough to give the church a chance—a chance for the church to be the church, not a coffee shop, not a mall, not a variety show, not Chuck E. Cheese, not a U2 concert, not a nature walk, but a wonderfully ordinary, blood-bought, Spirit-driven church with pastors, sermons, budgets, hymns, bad carpet and worse coffee?”-Church: Love It, Don’t Leave It - On Faith at washingtonpost.com
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I've written about CRAZY LOVE by Francis Chan. It is a marvelous, fresh, fantastic book. I showed a 15-minute Chan video to the senior high students last night; they were not only enthralled, they were ministered to...and great conversations took place afterward.
Now you can get the audio version of the book FREE. Just CLICK HERE and look for the download link and, when prompted, enter the code JUL2009. Sure, you need to open an account, but it is FREE...and the price is NOT right...this will bless your socks off, rock your world, and give you a unique insight into God's relentless love.
In 1977 I was an excon on parole who had been converted in jail prior to prison. I wanted to get some Biblical education, and felt called to work primarily with youth.
Through a string of "coincidences" (miracles in which God chooses to remain anonymous) I found out about Christ Unlimited Bible Institute, run by Kansas City Youth For Christ, an independent YFC ministry started by Dr. Al Metsker.
I applied, to my surprise (me of little faith) was accepted, and thus began the vocational ministry to which God called me.
Later I found out that Doctor and Mrs. Metsker were directly involved in my acceptance. Al told me that he and Vidy were driving, with Vidy reading my application form. Al said they were perplexed...should they allow a recently-paroled felon to attend their school?
After discussing the pros and cons (no pun intended), they prayed and felt they should accept me.
Thank You, Jesus! And thank you Al (who is in heaven), and thank you, dear Vidy...
The photo was taken at a reunion of Kansas City Youth For Christ people last week. We couldn't go because we are preaching in northern Wisconsin at Crescent Lake Bible Camp.
But a friend posted her picture, and my heart wanted to post a tribute. (She is surrounded by Johnny Williams and part of his family...Johnny oversees God's Mountain camp in St Joseph and has been a dear friend for over thirty years...)
There are literally thousands of souls in heaven,and enroute, because God blessed the sacrificial work of Al and Vidy(though neither would ever take credit). And hundreds upon hundreds of vocational missionaries, both overseas and in the states, received training and experience, to include this writer, at a Bible Institute KCYFC used to run.
KCYFC has evolved into another organization. But the rich heritage of the KCYFC and CUBI days continues.