Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Familiar Foreign Land

Another Summer to Disciple Students, Impacting Ireland and the UK.

Leading the ‘08 Ireland Team

Many of you remember the amazing summer Jenni and I had in Ireland back in ’06. Well, I have some exciting news to share, I have been asked to be the senior team leader for the Royal Servants ’08 Ireland team! I am so excited to be leading this team! I can’t wait to see the team God will raise up to join us in making a lasting impact.

This year, our Ireland team will be unique from previous years. Why? Because God has placed an opportunity in our path that we just couldn’t pass up! In addition to working in Northern Ireland, we will also be serving in one of the poorest boroughs on the outskirts of London.

Partnering with Local Churches and Reaching Diverse Communities

The first part of the summer will be spent in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. In Londonderry we will be working hand-in-hand with a church youth group to reach out to the community through a variety of ministry opportunities.

For the second part of the summer our team will fly over to London, England to partner with a church in the Tottenham borough.

Tottenham is rich in ethnic diversity. It has some of London’s highest concentrations of people from the Caribbean islands, Ghana (West Africa), and Eastern Europe. We will be reaching out to a racially diverse community with big needs.

“Real” Spiritual Growth

Though one of our main purposes of our summer is to reach people for Christ in these communities, we also have the privilege to see God work in the hearts of the students on our American team. Real spiritual growth takes place in a God centered, discipleship oriented, summer mission experience! Listen to how God worked in David’s life, a young man on the Nepal team last summer.

In a recent email David said in part:

“I just wanted you to know that God really used Royal Servants this summer to change my life. You helped me to get to the point where I was on my knees, offering my heart up to God. My WHOLE heart.

Before the trip, my sin had been separating me from having an awesome incredible relationship with the God who created the universe, but thanks to Royal Servants I now feel like all those walls have been torn down and I can finally meet with God face to face and experience His presence in ways I have never felt before.

So again, my life has truly been changed by God this summer, and I am forever in your debt for letting God use you as His instrument to shape and mold the lives of us students.” David—Nepal ‘07

Pray for the Harvest… Pray for Workers!

It’s our desire to see more students like David be equipped to make a difference and be impacted for Jesus’ sake.

Currently, I’m actively recruiting students to join Royal Servants this summer. I’m not looking for students who are perfect, only students who have a heart for Jesus and desire to grow more in their faith - like David (above).

Do you know a teenager or college student who desires to be shaped by Christ and wants to make a difference for him in this world? If so, simply send me their name, email and/or phone number (with their permission) so I can contact them. It would be great to have them join our team!

Please pray for all the preparation, planning and for our time in Ireland and the United Kingdom this summer. I anticipate with great joy what God is going to do in the hearts of the students and in the lives Jesus will touch through them!

From One Extreme to the Other

The Secret to a Balanced Christian Life - Contentment

It was one of those arctic cold January mornings in Minnesota… 20 below with a wind-chill factor of -45!

I waddled my way to the car and slowly sat down on the frozen driver’s seat. To my amazement the car turned over and fired right up. In a couple of minutes I was on my way to work.

I looked into my rearview mirror and noticed that it was a little out of whack so I place my hand on it and gave it a slight tweaking. Next thing I know I’m freely holding the mirror in my hand! “So much for that,” I said to myself as I laid it on the passenger seat and headed down the road.

Then it dawned on me, this was not the first time my rear view mirror had fallen off. I racked my brain to recall the last time it happened... Oh yes, it was a scorching summer day in central Florida. The inside of my car had to have been 115 degrees. “Talk about one extreme to the other,” I thought.

My rear view mirror had experienced both extreme climates. In each situation the glue that held it to the window had failed under these intense conditions. The Lord brought to mind how sometimes I fail to keep my relationship with him under the proper balance.

One minute I’m hot – seeking Him with all my heart and the next thing I know, I’m cold – and it has been days since I have seriously prayed or spent time with Him.

I have to admit I have spent much of my Christian life in the ups and downs, counting on the future and believing my life in Christ would be more satisfying, if only…

If only I didn’t have to deal with this situation right now… If only I didn’t have this struggle… If only God would have given me "that" gift. You get the idea—fill in the blank.

Lately the Lord has convinced me of the secret to a balanced Christian life. Though I’m not totally consistent, I have found that the secret is being content in Christ – not in my circumstances - whether I’m up or down or somewhere in the middle.

Does this sound familiar? The Apostle Paul figured this out and wrote to the Philippians about it.

“…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

It is interesting to me that Paul uses the word “secret” when talking about contentment. A secret is something hidden, concealed or unknown to others. Being content in all our circumstances therefore is not something that we can figure out on our own. True contentment is a secret that only Christ himself can reveal to us.

It’s not hard to realize this, just look around at our culture today and observe if any others have found the secret of being content. Sadly, many driven people today, including Christians, continue to go back and forth in search for true peace and contentment.

I feel I no longer need to search for contentment. I don't have to count on the future to reveal a better circumstance.

God's love is the only thing that gives me strength and brings me true contentment. I just need to allow Him to lead me through each moment of each day - whether good or bad, hot or cold... or from one extreme to the other!