Sending laborers into the harvest, or a Summer well spent.

This summer, due to Ben Jr’s arrival, we took a break from our normal summer assignments (where we work to advance the gospel via overseas summer projects or by training students on a stateside summer project) to ease in to the life of parenthood.  Jacqueline’s job description changes to “full-time mom” for the next few years.

As a result, my summer assignment this year is to phone coach a batch of freshly graduated students who have committed to a one year internship with Campus Crusade either in the states or overseas.  I coach them in the process of developing a team of financial and prayer ministry partners, and also help them with all other aspects of the transition from student life to this scary new “real world.”

The thrill for me has been seeing the fruit of other staff members’ work of winning these students to Christ, building them up in their faith, and sending them literally all around the world.  The interns that I am coaching are going to Argentina (two different cities), Lebanon, Slovakia, a large closed country in Eastern Asia (if I told you I’d have to shoot you), Memphis, South Carolina, and Middle Tennessee. This summer I get a clear picture of why we do what we do.

Over the summer, I will be sharing the stories of how God called each of these folks to sacrifice a year of their lives to reach students for Christ.  Please join me in praying that each of them gets the funding they need to report to their assignments on time!

Democratic National Convention (and other ways to increase the traffic to your blog)

There has been much hullabaloo over Donald Miller closing out a night of the Democratic National Convention in prayer recently.  Conservatives are throwing stones, saying that the DNC is just catering to the evangelical vote, and Liberals are praising Miller for bringing balance to the force, or something.

I’d like to imagine how Jesus would have prayed, were he asked to, at an event like that.  Here we have a massive room full of people passionate about their cause, arrogant about their ability to win an election, and gunning for the opponent.  (Also a pretty accurate description of the Republicans, by the way)  Without fail, Jesus knocked arrogant zealots off of their little thrones each time he encountered them in scripture.  Think of the “rich young ruler” in the gospels.  He showed up boasting about how good he was, and Jesus made him very sad.  Think of the Pharisees. Jesus regularly ridiculed, rebuked, and otherwise yelled at them.

So I can’t help but imagine Jesus’ prayer at the Democratic National Convention.  He’d have probably had his microphone turned off.  People using his name to get votes?  People who do not care at all about repenting of sin and the work Jesus did in his life, death, burial, and resurrection, but would invite him over so that others would vote for them?  I shudder to think the blistering monologue that would result.

Let me reiterate that I think this goes for both sides of the aisle.  Republicans are just as guilty.  I can’t think of the last time I’ve heard humility from anybody in the discussion, including myself.  When we start talking politics, we very quickly become players in a chess game.  I have to find the weakness in the other team and expose it.  I can’t come across as weak or like I don’t have all the answers.  We must demonize the other team and glorify our team.

Imagine if a politician were to say “hey, we are both after the same thing.  We are after justice and peace and harmony and restraining the forces of evil in the world.  Let’s figure out a way we can best do that, and stop taking cheap shots at the other guy.  And let’s not forget that government is not there to solve our problems.  It’s there to protect us from ourselves and others who would try to take away our freedoms.

Don Miller, I applaud you for having the guts to use the name of Jesus in a prayer on national television, and before a largely secular and humanistic audience.  That was a bold witness for Jesus.  But I can’t help but think Jesus would have ruffled more feathers.

Enjoying a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Jacqueline has gone to the Goodwill to procure some deals on clothing, little man is asleep in the other room, and I am having a glorious saturday afternoon, wishing I had a way to watch some college football.

But in the quietness I am confronted with my inability to rest.  I just listened to the song “Jesus I am Resting, Resting” and just sort of rolled around in the truth that Jesus is my true rest, and provides a way somehow for me to rest in the midst of all the chaos of life.  What a glorious truth.  In direct contrast to all the religions in the world, Jesus calls Christians to REST.  To rest. I am not supposed to diligently pray five times a day, not supposed to pilgrimage to Mecca, not supposed to work to assure that I am in right standing with God, not to meditate or chant or wrestle, but just to rest.

My western culture doesn’t encourage rest.  Even as I type these words, I can think of dozens of things I could be doing.  I have work to do for the fall getaway coming up.  I have students I could call to schedule appointments.  I have potential supporters I could call to line up appointments to raise support.

But I need to rest, to enjoy the finished work of Christ for me.  My worth is no longer tied to my performance.  It is wrapped up in the life He lived, in the death, burial and resurrection He went through for me.  What a gift. “Oh how marvelous thy goodness, LAVISHED all on me!”

So, before the hustle and bustle of doctors, surgeons, and campus, in the quietness of a house with only the sounds of a fan and soft baby’s breath coming from the other room.  I am resting, resting.

Your god is Dying.

The financial news is crazy these days.  From what seems like an incessant train of bailouts and legislation to rising unemployment to insurance companies turning folks away, the news is rarely good.

People are in a state of panic.

What better time, as Christians, to show the watching world what we really trust in!?

I confess, this is a pep talk for myself that you are welcomed to listen in on, but I am discouraged as I step back from my situation and evaluate how I am handling things.  Our financial support has suffered recently, and if I am honest, I tend toward panic more than trusting Christ.  Which is exactly the opposite of how the gospel ought to affect me.

The reason so many people in the financial sector are breaking apart at the seams is because their god is dying.  They have trusted in money, or the economy, or their 401-K, or the American dream.  And now that thing in which they have placed their trust is dying.  Their god is dying.

Our God rose from death.  And he promises in his word that he takes care of his own.  Jesus is LORD.  Not just a king or a president.  The King of kings.  The Lord of lords.  He alone is in control.

So instead of freaking out when finances are tight, I am going to rejoice that my God is alive, and still in control.  I am going to trust.  But let’s take it another step.  How about instead of clamming up and “taking care of our own” with no regard for others, we model the generousity and others-focus that Jesus would have for us during this time.  Our generousity in the face of uncertainty will serve as God’s hands and feet drawing people who are otherwise totally disinterested and turned off by Christians.

Give sacrificially (no, this is not just a plug for you to support us.  Give to people who need to know that money won’t save them.)  Pray as to who God would have you minister to with your wallet.  Is there a single mom or a widow that needs a meal or a tank of gas?  Give to your church, so that they don’t have to lay off people. Give to the local food bank.  Just… GIVE.

I’ll start.  I haven’t taken it before the Lord with my wife yet, so I am not sure how we are going to give, but I assure you that this month, even in spite of a significant loss in our support, we will give more than we did last month.

Because my God is not dead, or dying.