Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ramadan Prayer

Tomorrow (September 1st) marks the first day of Ramadan that will last until September 30th.

It's a great time for us to be praying and fasting for our teams serving among Muslims and for the students and people they will encounter this year. Pray that God would preform miracles in the hearts of these men and women that they will see Christ for who he truly is.

One great tool is found at 30 Days: Loving Muslims Through Prayer. The "Muslims In" page is their 30-Day Prayer guide which you can subscribe to at the bottom of that website.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Call Me Brother Zed (A Devotional)

When I was in college, there was this guy called Brother Zed who came to my school every year. He wore all white, and his wife wore homemade clothes and carried a sign that said something about Hell, and his little son came and sat at his feet. He’d stand in the quad and verbally abuse everyone who came by. We were all sinners, prostitutes, hellions with a one-way ticket to the devil’s dinner table. This was the sort of thing he said to us. Of course all the students loved him. We’d form a crowd and yell things just to get him worked up. We’d also throw pennies at him.

In a way it might remind you of the Apostle Paul. Here’s this guy trying to tell people about Christ, and the brilliant philosophers of the day (that would be us, the penny-throwers) gathered to mock and abuse him. Of course, Brother Zed’s gospel--though actually correct in places, and presented with great enthusiasm--bears little relation to Paul’s gospel.

Paul wrote, “Our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.” (I Thessalonians 1:3) Here are a few thoughts I’ve had while ruminating on this verse:

1) Paul’s gospel came with power. A hallmark of Paul’s message is the “power of the gospel to change lives.” It might mean the lame walking, the blind seeing or the dead coming to life. The gospel transforms those it touches. It’s not merely a set of propositions to be accepted or rejected, it’s the offer of metamorphosis, an invitation to the caterpillar to enter a cocoon and be changed forever. The old and dead falls away like chaff and the seed of the gospel bursts into new life.

2) The Holy Spirit is integral to the gospel. If we are not presenting the gospel in partnership with the Holy Spirit then it’s nothing more than lifeless words. Finite words cannot introduce one to the infinite God unless God himself whispers through them. The single most effective thing I can do to ensure I am presenting the gospel well is to make my relationship with the Holy Spirit a priority in my life.

3) Paul expressed his gospel with deep conviction. Too often I think my conviction for the gospel will deepen if I study enough, or understand the battle between evolution and creationism, or if I spend some time polishing my ecclesiology. And of course those things are valuable and helpful. But in the end, reading all of the apologetics in the world won’t bring me to deep conviction in the gospel unless I am experiencing the life change that comes with the gospel and growing in relationship with the Holy Spirit. Knowing Christ intimately creates conviction about His gospel.

I think of Brother Zed sometimes. I wonder if he knew the God he was haranguing all of us to follow. He had deep conviction, yes, but there was no power to his words, and I never once saw the Holy Spirit speak to someone through him. But then I wonder, how often is that true of me, also?

Holy Spirit, may the power of your gospel be evident in my life and ministry. I ask that you would speak to the hearts of the lost as I share your good news with them. Give me deep conviction of the truth of your words and boldness to share the gospel as I should.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Finish That Support!


Here are some helpful thoughts on raising the rest of your money for stint from Gary Schmalz (gary.schmalz@uscm.org). Gary has been on staff with Campus Crusade for 15 years, 10 of them as the Campus Director at Iowa State. He and his wife Cristen currently serve on the WSN team in Minneapolis helping mobilize students in the Upper Midwest.

You’ve been raising support for three months now, your airplane leaves in two weeks and you are at 75%. Why aren't you finished? There are many reasons, but one might be that you're tired of making calls. That phone can get very heavy after a few months of support raising, even though you feel called by God and motivated to go. Isn’t it amazing how many people actually said no? Some were even upset with you that you called. So let’s look at a passage or two that might get that last 20% of support raised so you can actually go do what the Lord has called you to do.

Grab your Bible and turn to Luke 8: 1-3. No, I am not going to list it for you, go get your bible! As you see (because you just read it) Jesus traveled from “one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.” Now you are not Jesus, but you are traveling in order to preach the good news of Jesus to another culture. Your mission is very similar to His mission. In verses 2 and 3 we see a list of folks that supported The Twelve out of “their own means.” They were taking their own resources out of their own pockets and giving it to Jesus and His disciples so that the good news would be preached. Just like you need to have in order to go to your location.

If I had a list like this, and I do, it would actually be much larger than this list and it is (and they support my family of 6). One of the names you would read on my list would be Gelene. Gelene had just lost her husband to cancer and she had two elementary aged children. Looking at it from a worldly perspective I never should have asked Gelene to be a part of my ministry team, but I did, and I do not know why I did that. I met her at her farm, and after telling her about my ministry that did not yet exist, she showed me a machine shed in her back yard. She was going to rent it out and give the rent money to my ministry. She said, “as long as it rents out, you will get support from me.” Fifteen years ago that was $100/mo, now its $150/mo. Absolutely amazing, only God does stuff like that!

Now, there is a person out there that God has chosen to be a part of your support team, and for some reason you have not asked them yet. Please go, call them now, and if they are close to your location, ask to meet with them, if they are an hour away or more, just cast vision over the phone and ask them now. Why over the phone? Because you have 20% to raise in 2 weeks. The plane will leave with or without you. It’s time to have a 5 min presentation with an ask over the phone. Put it together, practice it, practice it some more and then start calling. We’re praying for you!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Notes from Briefing

Slowly but surely we are uploading notes of seminars and talks from the briefing. You can access them here. (You will need to use your company email and password. If you are in a closed location, make sure you are first using a secure system. If you have issues, contact your caring region's STINT Coordinator.)

On that home page, you will see little announcements about midyear dates and then on the left are links to pages for playbooks, language learning tips and briefings. (If you notice that 2007 Briefing is missing its because Mikalatos still hasn't uploaded those.)

Under Christ Alone 2008 Global briefing, you will find two folders for talk notes. Unfortunately, they didn't get recorded this year so we just have notes. So if your team wants to listen to them maybe the person on your team with the best James Earl Jones voice can read them.

Right now we just have 24/7 Prayer, Care & Courage, Evangelism Tips from Aussie, Learn a New World and Launch Movements. But the goal is to have them all by start of September. If you see one missing after 9/1 and you want them, email me and I will hound that speaker.

Finding the Leader


Here are some thoughts from our Fearless Leader, Doctor Steve Douglass, that should be helpful when you get to campus and start building Bible studies and setting up leaders:

“I can’t find any people to lead Bible studies or movement groups!” is what I sometimes have heard from staff. “Do you have anyone at all?” I ask, to which they usually answer “Sure, but there are some problems that disqualify them.” In other words they are not without flaw.

Well, guess what? None of us are without flaw, and we have yet to grow to what we can be. Now I am not saying that there are no disqualifiers. What I am saying is that God can salvage people from a bad past.

Consider the apostle Paul. When we first met him in Scripture, he was a leader in the persecution of the church. He was responsible for the arrest and abuse of many first century Christians. If asked, I am sure almost all Christians during that time would have agreed that there was no way Paul (Saul) could ever be used by God to be a leader in the church.

Yet God called Paul, brought him through trials and teaching, and eventually used him to author more of the New Testament and to inaugurate more ministry among Gentiles than anyone else. Is it unusual for God to salvage people? No! In fact He seems to relish it.

Consider the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1. In it we find:



  • Rahab – a harlot from Jericho who married Salmon and became the mother of Boaz, and she is mentioned in Hebrews 11 and James 2 as an example of faith.

  • Ruth – a Moabite, whose people were traditionally enemies of the children of Israel, became a timeless example of loyalty. Her marriage to Boaz, an Israelite, led them to become the great grandparents of King David.

  • David - a dutiful King, yet one who committed adultery and murder.

  • Bathsheba – an adulteress with David who eventually becomes the mother of King Solomon.

  • Four flawed people, whom God was able to redeem out of bad backgrounds and shame—as they were willing to turn from their sin and serve Him.

You might be saying it isn’t always sin that disqualifies people; sometimes it is a lack of ministry competencies. I will grant that it is good for people to have innate abilities to lead groups or start spiritual conversations. At the same time many of the twelve apostles selected by Jesus lacked ministry skills. Peter had a knack for saying the wrong thing. Thomas wasn’t exactly full of faith. And I can only imagine how Levi came across as a seasoned tax collector. God can make anyone useful if he or she is willing.

So why am I writing about this to you? In my next Global Connection, I will be sharing with you strategy components that we should emphasize in Campus Crusade for Christ. They are phrased in a way that emphasizes the mobilization of people.

These components may be of no surprise to you. We are all about spiritual multiplication—which involves passing ownership of ministry on to others. But that won’t happen if we view most of our disciples as “disqualified” for one reason or another.

If we find it hard to have faith that God is able to use them, we won’t even try to challenge them toward their potential as a leader. Or, we may embark on a process of discipleship that is so drawn out that people drop out needlessly.

Am I advocating that we should ignore that people have certain barriers to becoming multipliers? No, not at all. I am just advocating that we:

Have faith that God can make people useful to Him.

Look for people whose hearts are right before God (“good soil”).

Work with them aggressively to use their strengths and grow in their weak areas.

Give them a chance to try to minister, perhaps a little sooner than we might think.

Encourage them throughout the process.

Anytime you find yourself reluctant to do these things, think first of one of your own experiences or those of someone you know well. How “perfect” were you when you got started? How skilled were you at evangelism and discipleship? How different are you now than when someone believed in you and let you try?

Thoughts to consider during your devotional times:

1) Look at the five points at the end of this letter. Think of someone whom you have been reluctant to let minister. Honestly assess how you are doing with them in each of the five points.

2) Select one area where you realize you can improve in your ability to help that person achieve his or her potential in ministry.

3) Ask the Lord to give you one or two action steps to help achieve that improvement.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

WORSHIP THE KING!


Love Your Team


No matter what size they are!

Prayer for one another



Steve Douglass and the Stint Commissioning



Here's a picture of Steve Douglass with our MCs and Andy McCullough. I've included some notes on Dr. Douglass' talk... just notes, it's not word-for-word unless it's in quotes.

Steve braved a tropical storm to come be with us for a few hours. He leaves tonight because of meetings tomorrow. Why would he do that? "Because I love you. I am so impressed with what you are going to do next year, serving God overseas."

Here's the Problem. You're only going to spend a year or two overseas and you're going to feel that things are just getting started.

There's a great person who's going to stay and do follow up when you are gone. That's the Holy Spirit.

In I Corinthians 3:5-6 Paul says "we are servants through whom you came to believe. I planted the seed. Apollos watered it. But God made it grow." Psalm 1 says those who walk with God instead of with the world are like trees planted by the water which bear fruit in season and whose leaves don't wither.

Steve told us a great story about finding a sapling in his yard and helping it grow. It ended with him being up on his roof with a chain saw pruning his maple tree!

A person with a heart with "good soil" will grow, and will yield a crop. The only way spiritual movements can flourish is for good soil to yield a crop and you are going to launch that in the lives in many people next year. You will plant the seed and God is faithful to bring it to pass.

"One thing I've learned to count on through the years is this: Jesus changes lives." Over time people change drastically. 2 Cor 5:15 -- the old has come, the new has come. There's no such thing as a spiritual movement apart from changed lives.

A couple of examples of changed lives:
  1. Steve Douglass told us the story of his own life. He spent time at MIT looking for the secret to finding satisfaction... it seemed not to be success. He went to a Bible study to hang out with a young lady and saw people whose lives were different... he eventually decided that's what he wanted, and he sat up in his bed and prayed for Christ to come into his life. Years later he wrote "How to Get Better Grades and Have More Fun." The first time he shared about it was at Vanderbilt. 75 students showed up, which wasn't bad. About half were Christians. About half of the non-Christians there wanted to know more about Christ. He gave the talk 300 times, about 30,000 students heard it, 150,000 books published. The point: the people from that Bible study planted a seed, and as Steve grew he became more useful to God, and God brought the fruit.
  2. Steve was told about a student who spent a lot of time drinking until God got a hold of his heart in a dramatic way. He was leading many to Christ, his life was changed, today he's a pastor.
  3. At a campus in Wisconsin a freshman named Kate came into her dorm room to find it decorated in black crepe with many books on the occult in the room. Kate went to CCC meetings and learned about Freshman Survival Kits. Kate gave one to her roommate, and it was amazing. Her roommate voraciously consumed the material. Her life changed. She redecorated the room, she threw away her occult books. She made a big difference on that campus, a changed life, a great contribution.
  4. A young man who, years ago, was a gambler. Could run numbers in his head. Engaged in wild living and all of a sudden God got a hold of his life and he radically changed. He went into the insurance company, an incredible success. When he died, he left 400 million dollars to promote the Gospel. One thing they did was to come up with a way to talk about getting power for living life. Well known people gave their testimony on television. They saw 7 million people ask for a copy of the book. best we can tell, 700,000 people received Christ in a six month period. Jesus got ahold of his life.
  5. Steve's Dad. He had struggles in life. One was alcohol. Alcohol ruined a marriage, caused hard words to be said, led to divorce. Ruined his career. A sharp guy, outgoing, winsome... but job after job fell away. Steve got a call in the middle of the night, his dad had come out to Southern Cal looking for him, but Steve was in Australia. For five years on and off he lived with Steve and became one of the most popular guys at CCC HQ. When Steve's Dad died, 600 people came to his memorial. In five years Jesus had changed his life.

When Jesus changes lives, those lives spawn interest on the part of other people, those people respond, they receive Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the desire to read the scriptures and more people come to Christ and desire to tell others, and that is a movement of God.

You are going out to share Jesus. Many will respond. Some will go on to bear fruit. Those precious people you invest your lives in will launch movements where you go. Wherever there are changed lives, there are spiritual movements.

"As you go, I pray you find those people God has prepared beforehand" (Eph 2:10). You will run into people, plant a seed, a tree will grow and fruit will come.

A closing story: Sunday. A few days ago, on a walk. Listening to the Bible on his headset, praying. He meets a neighbor. The neighbor asks to walk with him and asks him if he's a Christian. The neighbor wants to be used by God. So Steve gave him "Enjoying Your Walk with God" and a Bible and a copy of the Jesus film with the answers to 50 tough questions that people ask. He introduced him to the church that he's helping plant in Orlando.

"If God can bring my neighbor across the street to talk about Jesus, he can find people in the countries you are going to." In many cases it will be people who totally don't know Jesus. They will marvel at the fact that the vitality in your life is somehow related to God.

You are going to make a difference in the next year for eternity. You will see a small amount compared to what God will ultimately do. Eventually these transformed people will take whole territories for Jesus Christ. "I commend you for the most excellent choice you have made about how to spend this next year. Having been at this for 40 years I can tell you truthfully... I have no regrets."

Living Well with Candice

Here are some notes from this morning's talk by Candice Siewert.

What are you going to do when you don't get a paycheck because you didn't clear your advance?
What are you going to do when your team leaders are big jerks?
What are you going to do when your boy/girlfriend who promised to call you on Skype every night doesn't?
What are you going to do when everyone else's computer will connect to the internet and yours won't?
What are you going to do when you practice what you need to say at the restaurant and the waiter doesn't understand a word?

STINT is a full-time job. You actually have to work all day. You have signed up for a 40-50 hour work week. (At this point, we read 2 Timothy 2:3-7.) This is what we're called to do: to be a soldier under authority. Being a missionary is hard work. It's hard stepping into a culture you don't understand.

Don't create "Little America" on stint. Ask your team leaders what you should be doing, when, why and how often.

Some things that should always be in your schedule:

  1. Time with the Lord. Do it in the morning, afternoon or evening, just do it.
  2. Day with the Lord every month.
  3. Prayer. Build it into everything you do.
  4. Days on campus. Be thinking, "I am on campus every day."
  5. Be looking for exposures. In the first month you should meet 25 people a week.
  6. Evangelism. We really do want you to share your faith. Make the name of Jesus FAMOUS. The world has enough friends. You're not going to make friends. You are going to represent Christ.
  7. Small groups. Don't lock into a small group until after the sixth week. Ask yourself, "Who is truly spiritual interested among the people I know?"
  8. Always practice the language. Use the bi-lingual materials. Use your language. Go to class. Use people who know the language.
  9. Share your firsts. First time you order in language. First time you use the squatty potty without holding your nose.
  10. Meetings. Be prepared. Show up. Do your homework. Be prepared for prayers, planning, parties, administrative details.
  11. Send your prayer letters. People have invested in you
  12. Be careful about Time stealers. Updating Facebook. Blogs. Skype. Throwing a good Pity Party. Harboring a bad attitude. Lack of planning.
  13. Be people of encouragement. Help deal with conflict. Encourage your teammates. Invite people into your troubles.
  14. Use your Playbook. Lots of great tools in there to help you.
  15. Team Norms. Come up with three or four you will actually do and commit to it. Look at the "one anothers".

Things are going to bug you. Don't let things build up. Little things become big things if you don't deal with them.

Authority. Your team leaders may be younger than you. But the Lord has chosen them to be your leaders. Pray for them, support them. Remember, when Miriam and Aaron grumble against Moses, God says to them, "Who are you to grumble against God's anointed?" Pray for your leaders. Pray to be humble, to be allowed to submit, that he will enable you to speak positively about them.

Some decisions no one else can make for you:

  1. No one can make you study.
  2. No one can make you send out a prayer letter.
  3. No one can budget for you.
  4. Drinking. No official WSN policy... but if you do not drink now DON'T START ON STINT. Talk to your team. Some of them may struggle with alcohol. Talk with your team about what you're going to do about this.

STINT will be an adventure. Believe it or not, you will soon have stories like Candice's, complete with convicts, terrorists, hippies, rock stars, Bolsheviks, broken airplanes, and vodka-imbibing Russians.

God knows what is going to happen to you this year. And he is going to provide for you all the way.

You Winsome You Losesome

Dann Stockton of the Autumn Film created yet another original work of art for you. This is titled "You Winsome, You Losesome."




Remember: The only winner at a casino is The House. Everyone else is a sucker.

Conference Word of the Day

At a conference like this, there may occasionally be a word that is unfamiliar. The stint blog is here to help!


Winsome.

adj. Charming, often in a childlike or naive way. Sweetly or innocently charming; winning; engaging: a winsome smile.

[Middle English winsum, from Old English wynsum : from wynn, joy]

win'some·ly adv., win'some·ness n.

Word History: Winsome people easily win friends, so it is not surprising that winsome and win have a common root. Their shared element win- comes from the Indo-European root *wen-, meaning "to desire, strive for," and has a number of descendants in the Germanic languages. One was the prehistoric Germanic noun *wini- meaning "friend" (literally, "one who desires or loves" someone else), which became wine in Old English and is preserved in such names as Winfred, "friend of peace," and Edwin, "friend of (family) possessions." A different form of the root with a different suffix became Old English wynn, "pleasure, joy," preserved in winsome. Finally, the verb win itself is from this root; its meaning is an extension of the sense "to strive for," namely, "to strive for with success, be victorious." Outside of the Germanic branch of Indo-European, we see the root, for example, in Latin venus or Venus "love, the goddess of love," and the verb venerāre, "to worship," the source of English venerate.

From:
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth EditionCopyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Ephesians 6 with Jay and Chip

In an unprecedented move, Chip and Jay take the stage together to lead us in our time in the word. Here are some of my notes from this morning:

We started with some review and overview.

* Chip: You and I are "little a" apostles... I hope that this year you have a sense of your "sent-ness." Paul refers to himself as the least of the apostles, the foremost of sinners. We need this balance of knowledge of our being his ambassadors, something that gives us tremendous confidence. At the same time we need to remember with humility his great grace that has brought us into his kingdom.

* The rivers of his mercy are meant to bring us under the gracious, loving, merciful reign of Jesus.

* God is working in all kinds of ways to bring out the beauty of Jesus in us so that we might shine with the likeness of Christ in our lives.

* Those who have been transferred out of darkness and into the kingdom of the beloved son are told how to live by Paul... the challenge is that we tend to look at those in the kingdom of darkness as completely without God, but there is knowledge of the kingdom that can be found even in the pagan world.



*We live now as strangers and aliens in this pagan world, the challenge is to stay away from sinful actions, we need to keep our conduct honorable so that people will see our good works and glorify God in the days to come.

* The pagan is not impressed that you read your Bible every day. They may pray more than you to their idols. What they are impressed with is what they see as good... when they see that we are committed to our friends, to the homeless, to that which is beautiful in art and in creation, they are impressed with these things (the things we do in the "overlap" area).

*Eph. 6. Paul makes it clear we are in a battle with spiritual forces, and we must continually put on the armor of God, daily.

* Notice how often Paul tells us to pray... four times in the last few verses. The best thing we can do in the midst of spiritual battle is to pray.

* Compassionate deeds must be entwined with passionate proclamation. Our deeds and words blend together. Deeds illustrate and illuminate the gospel, and words explain it.

*There is a certain "narcotic" that comes in caring for the widow and orphan. The message of the gospel is that Jesus is King. Compassionate deeds only expand the kingdom of God when they are connected with this message. A couple quick points showing this scripturally... one is Acts 3 (Peter and John heal the lame man)... that good work is misunderstood and people think that the men do this by their own power. So they explain their good works with the gospel of Jesus.

* Tim Keller says When we serve and do mercy with others and when we proclaim the message of the gospel propositionally, either one fails to have the impact of the two together. So if we say we are opposed to homosexuality, but we serve and care for those who may be suffering in the homosexual community, it creates a dissonance in the minds of the pagan world that is extremely winsome. It opens the pagan to the possibility of responding to the gospel.

* 6:23-24. Paul circles back to where he started... God's great mercy elicits our love for him to be incorruptable, and day by day there is growing intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ.

*It is an amazing privelege to participate with God in his plans. His great grace makes us love him more and more every day.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dann Stockton Gives Us An Original Work of Art

Dann from the Autumn Film has provided us with this lovely piece of original art. Feel free to print it off and ask for his autograph. In addition to the electronic one already included. Then you will be rich when he is famous.

Learn A New World with Cheryl Boyd

First, Cheryl started out by sharing with us her obsession with the Olympics. In great detail. Because she loves the Olympics like crazy.


She started having a burden for Eastern Europe as she learned about Nadia... that she wanted her to be happy, that she wanted her to know Jesus.


*Defining Culture: The customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious or social group.

* Remember that there are good and bad parts of culture, but hesitate to label these things quickly. Some things are neutral, even, and make us uncomfortable so we want to label them as bad.

*Here's the Kwast model of culture.

* Being a servant. Philippians 2:1-16. What did Christ give up to "minister cross-culturally" to you? What things have you already given up or do you anticipate having to give up in order to serve the students in the culture where you are going? What do you anticipate being the hardest sacrifice to make?

* If culture is hard for you, that can be God's gift to stretch you and help you grow. Don't give in to the temptation to abandon learning the local language.

*Don't make "Little America" in your flat. "We'll let our culture ROAR in our flat tonight." Enter into the world of your students rather than trying to re-create America and bring your students into it.

*We are looking for a Biblical culture.

*Cultural Ministry Cycle:

Honeymoon is when you say, "I'm so glad to be eating roaches today! What a great story for my blog."

Pit of Despair is when you walk through the market and think, "This could be like a video game and I'll see how many people I can kick in the shins."

Normalization is when you start to balance these things out, and move to a good place of recognizing the good and bad things about your culture and your host culture.

*Cheryl shared the story of a student who came to Christ through a stinter who was used by God to enter into culture and get to know, love and share the gospel with her.



Ephesians 4-6 With Jay

Here are some notes from Jay's talk this morning:


*Revelation 22: the River of Life flowing from the throne and the Lamb

The dwelling place of God will be re-established, and great orchards will grow alongside the river. Even the Dead Sea will be a place of plenty. Leaves of healing for the nations. This connects to Eph 3, that this new community of people brings together nations into a new person, a new temple.


*God's plan is not a "one location" invasion, but a dispersal. He causes us to be communities of what C.S. Lewis calls "good infections." "Every Christian is to become a little Christ." As we do this, we become "carriers of Christ." We are mirrors of Christ to others.


* "God loves you -- God loves me -- just the way you are, just the way I am. He can't love you any more and he won't love you any less. But he loves you too much to leave you the way you are." --Max Lucado. This is a reflection of the message of Ephesians 4-6.


* Paul sets up a contrast between the Christian community and the pagan community. He comes across harsh because he is contrasting that which is righteousness and beauty with that which is outside. The reality is that God is in a process of moving us toward maturity, although Paul is emphasizing the contrast in this passage.


*"The trouble with the evangelical church is that most of us don't spend enough time in the gospels." -- Dallas Willard. Jay challenges us to make time in the gospels a regular part of our spiritual life.


*The Christian life is less like obeying rules and more like painting a portrait. That portrait is of Christ.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ephesians 4 with Chip

Chip led us through Ephesians 4 this morning. A few notes:

*Our relationships with one another illuminate or obscure the gospel (4:1-3).

*Our differences are by Divine design -- they grow us up and prepare us for service. Implication: accept, embrace, and make room for everyone to make their unique contribution (4:4-13).

*How we grow to full maturity in Christ -- 3 avenues for growth
1) Relationships with one another (4:1-16)
2) Renewing our minds (4:22-23)
3) replacing old habits with new (4:25-32)

* Chip said, "The only way for us to love one another as we are called to is through Christ Himself." (4:32)

Love Your Team -- Mike and Karen

Mike W. and Karen Hibberd also walked us through how to deal with team conflict, and they did a great job of it. Some notes from their time:



* Among the top 5 reasons Muslims give for choosing Christ is the lifestyle of Christians they have seen... the love they exhibited in relationships and the treating of women as equals.



*Mike talked about how we are to love our enemies... he has a hard time thinking of enemies. But he can think of people he's been hurt by, dislikes, doesn't get along with or doesn't agree with. We need to love these people as well, and everyone we have conflict with.



* Conflict isn't bad, it just is part of life in a fallen world. There's no intimacy without conflict, and our conflict-free relationships are often superficial.



* Bad ways to deal with conflict:

Deny/Avoid (We are told to put aside falsehood)

Judge/Attack/Accuse (We are told not to judge; Matt 7:1; I Cor. 4:5)

Talk to Others About It (Eph 4:31... don't slander)

End the relationship

* How we should deal with conflict (Matt 5:23-26)

* Healthy steps to resolve conflict:
1) Go to the Lord
2) Go to the other person
3) minimize conflict by knowing expectations, team norms, good communication

*Remember, we can't do this without the help of Christ (John 15:5)

Prayer for Tifah

Tifah, the lead singer of Autumn Film, has been under attack of late. She has had very few restful nights of sleep. Either she will have nightmares or she will not be able to sleep or both.

Several of us have been praying for her and we want to invite you to join us. We believe this is an attack from the enemy. If she can't get sleep it affects her ability to fully lead us in worship. Would you join us in praying for Tifah? As you go to bed and maybe if even like I am now at 3 :13 am, when you are awakened in the night.... (Thank you loud drunk hippies) will you intercede for her?

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me - Psalm 3:5
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. - Psalm 4:8
He grants sleep to those he loves. - Psalm 127:2
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. - Proverbs 3:24

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Beautiful Mountains of Copper

After the enormous thunder and hailstorm of last night, the surrounding mountains are covered in snow and are breathtakingly beautiful:



Here's a picture of Chip, Keith and Amber taking a picture of the mountains:

Ephesians with Jay Lorenzen

This morning Jay Lorenzen continued our "flyover of the terrain of the book of Ephesians." He told us that chapter 1:10 is the "continental divide of history and time"... He shared this translation of the verse with us: "It is God's plan to unite all things in Heaven and on Earth under one ruler. The ruler is Christ."

Jay also spent time explaining to us that the message of God's love, mercy and grace flows both vertically (in relationship to God) and horizontally (to those around us). He shared a quote from Carl Henry that said, "God is a God of justification, and a God of justice."

Jay encouraged us to look at Acts 19:8-20:1 and reflect on Paul's story of a vertically and horizontally connected community, and also 20:17-38 for Paul's conversation with the leaders in that community.

We don't have commercials like this in America

I know we all enjoyed this wonderful commercial this morning, for an overseas apartment complex.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ephesians With Chip

This morning we spent an hour on our own, everyone getting some time with the Lord, and then the Autumn Film led us in worship. After that, Chip Scivicque got up and led us in the book of Ephesians.

I appreciated a lot of the things Chip shared, and I cried like a baby during parts of it. I kept looking around, thinking, "Surely Andy McCullough planned for this and is going to send someone down the aisles with tissues." But he didn't. :)

Here are a few things Chip shared with us:

"Paul's central paradigm for the Chrisitian life is that the more we understand God's grace, the more we desire to live a life of worship."

"The gospel is good news about a victory that has been won."

He also shared that we have been chosen for adoption (Eph 1:3-6) by sharing the beautiful story of his family adopting Amber. He showed us that God has redeemed and forgiven us (vss 7-10) and that He has given us a great inheritance, which is His presence (vss 11-14). He told us about God's lavish grace "for the praise of His glory"... that His grace glorifies Himself and moves us to live lives of worship.

HAIL!

It hailed like crazy today, cancelling our trip up the mountain for lunch. We were all disappointed.

I decided I wanted to walk out in the hail, so that I could feel it cool and fresh on my face and be filled with joy!

But actually it hurt.

I did go up the mountain later, though... if you get a chance head up the ski lift, it's beautiful.

Eric shared this with us today

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Christ Alone -- The First Night of Global Briefing

Tonight was a great way to kick off our week together.

I particularly loved the energy that our many flag bearers brought into the room as they raced around with a variety of countries represented.

And, of course, it was incredible to have our friends the Autumn Film leading us into worship.

I know what most of you want, and that is the footage of the incredible documentary footage of Keith Bubalo that MCs Eric and Emily brought to our attention. As Eric pointed out, there was a time when Keith had to make a choice between targeting a chance at becoming the national director of WSN or following his Olympic Dreams. Here's the video of what might have been.

Keith walked us through the story of Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3. He showed us how this story illuminates God's desire to reveal Himself to us in a way that is unmistakably Him. And he reminded us that we all have "burning bush" moments or we wouldn't be sitting there in the room tonight, about to embark on stint.

I was particularly moved as people in the audience stood and shared the many places where God has revealed Himself to them: in a park, in the Oxford cemetery, in a corner of a bedroom, at 4 a.m. or on the plane to Rome, talking with friends and strangers, during traffic accidents, at coffee shops, at conferences and in lonely places.

It made me think of those times in my life, where God unmistakeably made His presence known to me. Once on a walk on an Oregon beach, once in a stand of bamboo in East Asia, another time in the still darkness of Joshua Tree National Park, where I thought to myself, if a bush caught on fire right now and was not consumed, I wouldn't be surprised.

And Keith reminded us that as followers of Christ, we will be people empowered by the burning presence of the Holy Spirit. He reminded us that "It's not normal to see a person on fire... they're different."

And then the worship set the band took us through was so powerful, and so clearly attuned to what Keith had shared. The band and Keith, by the way, didn't talk to each other about Keith's talk or the content of the worship songs. It was amazing the way they fit together so seamlessly. Which, to me, is evidence of God speaking to the band and to Keith, and of them being His conduit to speak to us.

Thank God for that!

How You Are Feeling

We've had a little survey going in the sidebar, asking the question, "How are you feeling coming in to the Global Briefing?"

Here's how you answered:

1) Relieved to be finally going somewhere.
(37%)

2) Sad to leave my family.
(6%)

3) Excited to be done with support raising!
(34%)

4) Scared of altitude sickness.
(17%)

5) Hungry. And Tired.
(6%)

6) Wait -- uh -- am I supposed to be going to that thing?
(10%)

If I were an amazing guru of numbers, no doubt I would discover many interesting things that would become a best-selling book. I will point out that same percentage of people are hungry and/or tired as the people who are sad to leave their families. I'm not sure what that means.

Oh, and for the ten percent of you who are wondering if you're meant to show up to the Global Briefing today... yes, you are. Better get to the airport!

We've added a link to a new survey at the top of the sidebar. If you'd take a few moments to fill it out, we'd greatly appreciate it!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Postcards from THE EDGE

Hi friends!

I just moved into my room for the Briefing... it's a little dorm room in a building called THE EDGE.

This is my third year in the EDGE, and rooms have varied. This year's seems to be clean and it smells just fine. The elevator on the way up smelled like a party after it's over, but my room is great. Of course, it looks like someone tried to bust into my door at some point. But on the bright side, it looks as if they failed miserably, sobbing in the hallway.

Someone started a rumor recently that not all the rooms had bathrooms. I'm not sure where this rumor came from, but it's not true. Here's a picture of my bathroom. There you go. Rumor debunked.

Also, my room has some cool decorations.

Tips For High Altitude Living

Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out things in a new culture... like when you are so high in the mountains that you can't get a good enough grip on the over-inflated chip bag to open it. Here's a brief tutorial to help you out:

video

At the Denver Airport!


I saw this little fella today at the Denver airport. It's a gargoyle coming out of a suitcase. The write up on it said that it is designed to be above a person's head to "watch your baggage" and make sure it arrives safely.


I am sure this teaches us something about the culture and religion of the people of Denver. That and the enormous blue horse bucking out in a field with glowing eyes. Didn't get a picture of that one, though.
These are the sort of observations that can help us as we "Learn a New World" in the culture we're headed to. Okay, so maybe it would be false to assume that the people of Denver are supersitious and really think that gargoyles will watch over their luggage. In fact, it probably shows the opposite... that they feel comfortable making jokes about belief in the supernatural in some way. Of course, the colored murals near the baggage claim tell us other things about the people of Denver as well... everything from a desire for peace, a distaste for war, environmentalism and more is revealed in that art. And of course the fact that there is a rotating baggage claim for skis tells us a little something about the culture as well.
When we see these strange little oddities that make us say, "This is not like my airport back home" we can take an opportunity to learn more about the culture that has created the airport we're in!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Copper Mtn here we come

I leave tomorrow morning at 5 a.m. for Copper. A lot of team leaders, new stinters and coaches are on their way, too! Without my wife here at the house to help me, I had to look up the weather all by myself. And then I thought... I bet a lot of the fine people coming to the Global Briefing don't have wives to help them, either.

So here's your five day forecast:


65° F 41° F

61° F 38° F

56° F 38° F

56° F 38° F

61° F 43° F

Or you could learn a new world and look at these:

18° C 5° C

16° C 3° C

13° C 3° C

13° C 3° C

16° C 6° C

I would put in little pictures of sunshine or clouds for the various days but-- let's be honest here -- this is not really in my skill set.

See you guys sometime in the next 24-48 hours!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Christ Alone

Our theme at the Global Briefing this year is "Christ Alone". Hopefully its your theme throughout the year too.

Hi I am Andy McCullough. Sunday Matt introduced me. Of course all he did was pull a post off of another blog for this project I led this summer through my church so it made it sound like I only cared for one country. In fact, I passionate about the world and that people who dwell in dark places everywhere will see the light of the glory of Christ. But since I am Matt's nemesis, it makes sense for him to try to paint me in such a way. MIKALATOS! (said through clenched teeth and with a balled up fist.)

So I just got back from South Africa less than a week ago. (Of course I am going start talking about Africa so that might lead you to believe Matt was right.) It was an awesome, awesome time as I got to serve with this diverse group of people from all over the country ranging in age from college students to a grandmother. For 12 days we just served among the poor in a township outside of Pretoria. We did a variety of things like serving meals and playing with 150 or so kids each day, teaching classes to adults on business so they can rise above their poverty, loving on this people in Christ, etc. It was a great two weeks as we just woke up every day with the mindset to serve. We got to share Christ in both word and deed. And we just enjoyed each other as we did it too.

For me it was week of our theme for briefing: Christ Alone. It wasn't about me. It wasn't about anyone else on our team. It about Christ. Living and loving in His name. Taking His message of hope to the hopeless.

STINT can be a temptation. As crazy as it sounds now, it will be easy even in the midst of serving to make this year about you. You will see it creep up as you face unmet expectations, disappointments, conflicts or even successes. The enemy will attack you and make you think its about you. (Well he can't make you but sure will try.) Before you know it, your focus will be off Christ and on yourself.

It's easy to forget that its not about us.... its about Jesus. It's about Him and His glory... not mine, not Campus Crusade's. All this is for Him. "For me to live is Christ and die is gain", the apostle Paul writes in Philippians. From a smelly Roman prison he was saying that "Life is about Christ Alone".

Our prayer is that the week at Copper Mountain will not just be a week of information download that half of which you forget before you get on the plane. (Though we are going download some important info and every speaker will inevitably say "if you only remember one thing..." .) Our prayer foremost though is that you really meet with Jesus. That He shows up and by your experiencing Him, you come back to that place of surrender. And you say "Jesus, this is about you. I die to my desires. I surrender it all to you. I want to live for you and you alone."

May God meet us this all in this special way.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

People, Get Ready

There's nothing like getting ready for a trip, especially when you know you're going to be gone for a long time. Nine months. A year. Two years.


There's the little details like packing your bags... (Which clothes should I take? How many cans of hair spray can I legally take on board a plane? Is my luggage tough enough to withstand a severe beating at the hands of an imprisoned ape?)





Then there's the aspect of saying good-bye to loved ones, which can be extremely difficult. We've all learned some lessons about this from the movies we've watched as children, and now, somehow, it just seems wrong unless we part with loved ones on a train station's platform.

Still, in the midst of packing toothpaste, peanut butter and socks and saying goodbye to loved ones it can be easy to forget the spiritual aspect of what we're in the middle of. This isn't the same as loading up your car for college, it's not the same as leaving home for a week for summer camp. The fact is, that God has called you to serve him for a year overseas, and this stepping out in faith is a spiritual action, and it's important for us to be prepared spiritually for what he is asking us to do.

When Joshua was about to take the Israelites across the Jordan River, it was an important moment in their history as a people. God had promised them the land across the river, and forty years earlier they had said, "This is too hard. We can't follow God into this place." So He sent them out into the wilderness for forty years. He took care of them there (fed them, gave them water, made sure their sandals didn't wear out), but He told them that only the children (plus Joshua and Caleb) would be allowed to enter the promised land.

Now they stood poised to enter... a place not unlike where you are today. God has called you to someplace you never expected. You've stepped up and said you will follow Him and already He has been stretching your faith as you've raised support, said good-bye, explained to your parents why you have to go, and now you're packing up for the plane ride.

At this turning point in Israel's history of following God, Joshua said to the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you." (Joshua 3:5, NIV)

I think this is wise advice for us as we prepare for our time together in Colorado, as well as our time on stint. The Lord consistently shows up on stint and does amazing things. The number of people who have heard the gospel in the last several years through the faithfulness of people like yourselves is truly astonishing. He is going to bring new brothers and sisters into the kingdom this year. He is going to show you dark places in your own heart you didn't know existed, and shine his bright light into them so that you can embrace his healing and transformation. He -- the God who made the entire universe, the ocean, the land, the stars and all of humanity -- is going to meet with you as an individual and show you His love.

It would be wise then, for us, as people who will be standing in the presence of the Most Holy One, to make sure that we are sanctified, set apart and pure for our Master.

Take some time before you get on that plane to make sure you are holy, useful and ready to do whatever good thing the Master may ask of you. Spend some time in prayer and reflection and commit your self and your year to Him.  Let's not make the mistake of preparing all our physical goods for the journey without preparing our hearts.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Global Briefing Conference Director: Andy McCullough

Here's a quick introduction to Andy McCullough, who is running the Global Briefing this year. Andy has the answers to all your questions, in addition to being a wonderful person. If you see Andy wandering around the camp with a dazed, exhausted look on his face be sure to pull him aside and say, "Blessing upon you, good sir. Blessings upon you." Here's your intro:

"My name, as you know, is Andy McCullough. I have worked for Campus Crusade for 22 years now, the last 9 with the Worldwide Student Network where I help mobilize students to help change the world.

I like to read especially history. I like to travel and learning about other cultures. I am passionate about getting others involved in His Kingdom work. I enjoy hiking though I don't get to do it as much with small little boys who want to be carried once they get on a trail. I am married to a wonderful wife named Robin who when I left last year to work with orphans in Africa she said, "you are getting to live my dream". We have three little boys who I enjoy wrestling with: Luke, who turned 6 just a few weeks ago, and twins Jack & Drew who just turned three.

Twenty years ago last month, I was in Kenya on my first international missions trip and fell in love with Africa and Africans. I was so humbled by the hearts of the people I met. I am excited about going back and serving with all of you."