Friday, October 5, 2012

Our Manifesto

 Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we're not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don't maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don't twist God's Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.
   If our Message is obscure to anyone, it's not because we're holding back in any way. No, it's because these other people are looking or going the wrong way and refuse to give it serious attention. All they have eyes for is the fashionable god of darkness. They think he can give them what they want, and that they won't have to bother believing a Truth they can't see. They're stone-blind to the dayspring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we'll ever get.
   Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we're proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, "Light up the darkness!" and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.
   If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us. As it is, there's not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we're not much to look at. We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus' sake, which makes Jesus' life all the more evident in us. While we're going through the worst, you're getting in on the best!
   We're not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, "I believed it, so I said it," we say what we believe. And what we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive. Every detail works to your advantage and to God's glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise!
   So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Moving a Mountain

The Man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
                                                                    - William Faulkner

   I am blessed to be called to serve people with intellectual disabilities for many reasons. Yet the fact that most of whom we serve need simple, concrete teaching, may be the greatest blessing for me. I also learn simply, and being a visual person, concrete helps me to. I think allot about on how to make the Word and the church, accessible to everyone. My observation of a short 44 years of life in the church, is that we have put much of scripture and our gathering together, out of reach for the majority of people. By using a churchified language, not understanding that the men and women of the bible were just like us, and protecting our Americanized way of life we often create a distance from the spoken Word to the Word lived out in our lives. I believe Gods Word and the examples in it of faith, are as much for today and tomorrow as it was for 2000 years ago. I have to trust in that fact as I work in the purpose God has for me each day.
   I have begun this blog entry 4 times in the last few years, but I posted none of them.  I worry it  comes off egotistical and self promoting. I complained to God about it and the only thought that comes is... "you are pretty ego filled that you are even worrying this in the first place, just do what I ask". So I write these thoughts with a humble heart, knowing God is in control and has a purpose in all He does.
   I believe with all my heart that anything is possible, that God can do anything and does. "Anything is possible" became the motto of the kids ministry we started 5 years ago called MEGA. We believe it, and have seen it happen. We have learned to trust that anything is possible, to the point that it has taken away much fear from what we are doing here at Camp Daniel. Living by this motto has made the work we are doing harder for some to be part of it, because it can seem unplanned, without much structure, and without regard for the norms of building an American nonprofit and ministry. When you say your plan is to trust God while working as hard as you can with the tools and all He has given to us, that can feel out of control and unplanned to others around you.  I know I am unqualified to lead this, I know I am a sinner and I know I cannot pull off what God is doing here myself. I know those He has brought beside me cannot fulfill the vision He has laid on us. So there is only one way to fight this battle and that is by trusting Him, waiting on Him, and believing His Word while using the gifts and talents He has given by working as hard as we can each day. 
   So how can we move ahead like this? The easy part is working hard, even as I sit here with a busted up knee and can't physically work, I can lead with the tools He has given and work still happens. The harder part is to learn to trust Him. One of the many ways early on, that helped me learn to trust was to realize that God actually trusted me. That revelation was,  and is, hard to swallow.  I know what blackness is in my heart and mind. Yet God has imparted a vision, He has given His promises in the Word, has given me leadership over others, and has told us... we, the church... that we are His plan. I daily, feel an incredible burden knowing God trusts me, I desperately do not want to let Him down, yet I do moment to moment. Mother Theresa once said,"I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much!” I get how she felt in saying that! So my mind says to me, If God trusts me don't I need to desperately trust Him? Yes, I do, and He has shown on a daily basis that my distrust is so stupid as He has provided at every turn and in every situation. We have seen miracle after miracle, we have seen his promises in the Word in real life. This is how He has built our trust. Yet, sadly I must battle daily to continue to trust, and most of the time wish that He did not trust me at all.
   So back to paragraph one and how this comes together in our ability to take Gods Word and make it unreachable for simple people like me. We have understand the Bible is filled with stories of people just like us, the same doubts, the same inadequacies, the same dysfunction, the same addictions, the same sinners you and I are, so were they. The things the heroes of the bible did are not testaments to them, but rather to God and what He did in them. The miracles and the promises in the Word are no less today than they were then. When we began in ministry 16 years ago I believe we had the faith about the size of a mustard seed, it was a small, small amount of faith. Yet just enough to begin the process of building, growth and moving toward a vision God had for us. Along the way I remember someone giving us a bulldozer. I never had even drove a lawn tractor before that, but eventually I learned to drive the bulldozer. Eventually we began piling up top soil as we excavated the property.  We literally made a mountain of top soil. That mountain peaked 6 or 7 years ago. Since then we moved that mountain of topsoil all over the property with other equipment that God made available; a skid steer, an excavator, a dump truck, a tractor, even many wheelbarrows and shovels, and hundreds of willing volunteers. That mountain at one point was so big it seemed immovable, yet God moved it through many different means. We began with just a tiny bit of faith that God moved us to Athelstane to build Camp Daniel and in the process we have seen Him move mountains. Matthew 17:20 says, We can say to this mountain, "move from here to there" and it will move. Nothing will be impossible. How many of us believe this? I know I do! It is part of my non trusting, non believing, negative and controlling character to see this verse in Matthew as describing this only as a mountain like Everest. But God has twice let us see literal mountains moved here at Camp Daniel Should we doubt these experiences as being anything less than Gods promises fulfilled? No!! God delivers His promises. We see it as another of Gods unwavering trust in us to do as He has asked, and so He does what he says. If we have a tiny amount of faith, mountains can be moved.

I write this blog entry with a feeling of heaviness as I so desperately want others to know Gods promises are true, that His Word is real, and He loves and trust us deeply. The   miracles and men of the bible are not some superhero stories meant to make us feel bad about our shortcomings, but rather gifts to show us that God uses all of us, no matter what, to fulfill His purpose and we can have faith in Him and His promise. If we can simply desire to be close to Him, love Him, please Him, and trust Him above all things, than He takes care of the rest and the mountains will literally move.