LinkedIn, CBMC and Helping Young Adults Embark

I was recently invited to attend a quarterly breakfast for the Orange County Chapter of CBMC (Christian Businessman’s Connection). 

Marc Ottestad, the coordinator of the group, had connected with me via LinkedIn, thinking that our similar interests and passion for coaching, mentoring and seeing men make an impact for Jesus in their jobs might make for some natural opportunities to collaborate.

When I showed up at the breakfast, I noticed that most of the men were my age or even older. I wasn’t sure what to expect or how this breakfast might directly help me.

At one point, we were asked to shuffle tables to meet some new people and discuss what we heard from the speaker.

I found another table and ended up sitting next to the only guy in the room who was younger than 30.

I introduced myself to Alec and learned that he had recently graduated from Biola and was working at expanding a website business.

When Alec asked what I do, I shared that I help Young Professionals thrive spiritually and live with purpose.

Alec is a recent graduate of Biola University who is seeking biblical community while working to build and expand his website business.

I explained that my wife and I had spent many years ministering to college students but we made a shift in our ministry focus a few years ago because we had seen a void in Christian circles in serving the needs of Young adults, who are often struggling to find the kind of community and support that they need when they are undergoing the biggest changes and most stressful transitions of their life.

Alec’s response was both sad and affirming at the same time. He said, “you pretty much just summed up my current life situation.”

It’s sad that there seems to be so few resources and support for young professionals like Alec. I’ve spent many hours thinking through this issue, trying to determine why this is the case. 

My conclusions are not researched…they are just opinions, yet it makes sense to me.

If you think about it, most churches are built around a family model. Nearly every church serves the needs of families – from kids programs to youth events as well as support for parents and marriages.

This is an extremely good thing because, if you haven’t noticed, the traditional family unit, with biblical family values is under attack in our culture. The church may be the last bastion of hope to salvage a biblical understanding of the family unit.

But that same model works against Young Professionals, who are in a season where they have often left their family of origin and are yet to start a family of their own. They are in an in-between season of life – living on their own, learning to live as an adult with real-life responsibilities.

In this in-between phase, which is lasting longer for current 20-Somethings than it has for previous generations, they are looking for others like them with whom they can experience the struggles and transitions of becoming an adult.

Jen and I regularly connect with Young Adults who share their frustrations with attending churches where they struggle to find other Young Adults.

I have heard a number of church leaders tell me that a specific ministry meeting the needs of Young Adults is unnecessary. Citing the benefits of inter-generational worship and community, they contend that Young Adults should simply get involved in the life of the church,.

I believe this view is short-sighted. Research demonstrates that Young Professionals DO want mentors and they DO want to be involved in the life of the church. So in one sense, the idea of inter-generational worship and involvement makes sense. But a weekly men’s group cannot fill the void that’s lacking for many Young Adults – the need for a family-like experience with peers while they are in the season of single-ness.

We don’t have all the answers and we’re still learning best practices as we seek to minister to this audience. But we are seeking to fill the gap in various ways. 

After meeting Alec for lunch, I was able to connect him to a Leadership Development group that I recently launched. One of the guys in the group is also a Biola grad with whom Alec was acquainted. 

We’re also exploring the benefits of coaching. It may not meet all of Alec’s needs, but our hope is that it will provide a few missing elements that will help Alec, and others like him, to thrive spiritually and live with purpose during this season of life!

 

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide!

1The LORD gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: 2“Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh! Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”

3But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction in order to get away from the LORD. He went down to the seacoast, to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping that by going away to the west he could escape from the LORD.

4But as the ship was sailing along, suddenly the LORD flung a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to send them to the bottom. 5Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. And all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. 6So the captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will have mercy on us and spare our lives.”

7Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, Jonah lost the toss. 8“What have you done to bring this awful storm down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?”

9And Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” 10Then he told them that he was running away from the LORD.

The sailors were terrified when they heard this. “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned. 11And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, “What should we do to you to stop this storm?”

12“Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. For I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.”

13Instead, the sailors tried even harder to row the boat ashore. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it. 14Then they cried out to the LORD, Jonah’s God. “O LORD,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death, because it isn’t our fault. O LORD, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.”

15Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! 16The sailors were awestruck by the LORD’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.

17Now the LORD had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:1-17, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

Earlier this evening, I saw the following tweet from renowned pastor and theologian, Tim Keller:

Interestingly, Jonah chapter one outlines this exact situation.

Jonah was a prophet of Israel at a time when the biggest, baddest guys in the neighborhood were the Assyrians. The Assyrians were the super power of the day, overtaking and subjecting every nation and every culture to its will and dominance.

Imagine Jonah’s surprise when God tells Jonah that He wants him to go to Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria, and announce God’s judgment on the people there. God wants to give the Ninevites a chance to respond to His impending judgment and He wants Jonah to be His prophetic instrument.

Jonah cannot wrap his brain around the idea that God would give the Assyrians an opportunity to repent and be saved. He is so repulsed by the thought that these evil, wicked Assyrians might hear a message of judgment and then repent and be saved that he runs in the opposite direction.

On the surface, it’s easy to throw shade at Jonah for rejecting God’s command and running away. It’s hard to understand why Job resists God instead of just doing what He asks. But actually, Jonah’s response is probably more typical than outlier.

How empathetic and compassionate are you towards the person or the people whom you hate the most? Do you find yourself moving toward them in love as we’re commanded in Scripture or do you find yourself hoping and praying for their destruction? This is the gist of Tim Keller’s tweet above.

This passage from Jonah demonstrates that God is not just a God of the Jews, as most Jews believed, but He has love and compassion for all people, even Gentiles. For the Jew during Jonah’s day, this would have been a complete paradigm shift. For us today, we might say that God is not just the God of my political party, but He is the God of those who have opposing views as well!

Chapter one of Jonah also demonstrates that we cannot hide from God or escape His will and plan for our lives. God’s purposes will be accomplished whether or not we comply with His will.

Lastly, we learn that God can use even our rebellion and resistance to follow Him for His ultimate glory. Even though Jonah resists God, the sailors on the ship are so awed by God’s great power that they sacrifice to Him and promise to serve Him.

Reflection

What are some things God has been telling you to do that you’ve been unwilling to do? Why?

What is the group that would be the most difficult for you to demonstrate love and compassion toward? What makes it difficult?

What are some instances where God used a negative or difficult situation for His ultimate glory?

 

Photo by Maximilian Weisbecker on Unsplash

Are You Good Enough?

Mark 10

17As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

20“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

24The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

26The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

27Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:17-27, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

This story in Mark 10 is also shared by Matthew in the 19th chapter of his account of the life of Jesus. I wrote about this story about a year ago here, in which I addressed the question of whether or not Jesus requires rich people to give up their possessions in order to be saved.

You can read my thoughts about that in the previous blog post as I’m not intending to regurgitate all my thoughts again here. Instead, I want to focus on an often overlooked part of the exchange Jesus has with this person of extreme wealth.

The passage starts with the man coming to Jesus and asking Jesus what is required to inherit eternal life. But what is often overlooked is how he addresses Jesus. He calls Jesus “good teacher”.

Jesus picks up on this and replies in verse 18, “Why do you call me good?….No one is good except God alone.”

You almost never hear any sermon that focuses on this verse or gives any explanation of why it’s there. In fact, if you just eliminated verse 18 from the story altogether, the main idea and explanation seems to remain unchanged. In other words. Jesus’ response to how the man addressed him does not appear to be central to the main point of the story, which is the idea that coming to Jesus and inheriting eternal life requires us to recognize our spiritual brokenness and our need for a savior.

So if Jesus’ response is not important to the main idea in the story, why is it there?

Jesus is using this exchange to fundamentally change our idea of what is considered good.

Think about it. Almost everyone everywhere thinks that making it to heaven is a matter of being a good person and I’ve never met a person who, no matter what bad things they may have done in their lives, didn’t consider themselves to be good. Jesus’s response alters the equation of what is required to gain eternal life, which is the central query of the rich young ruler.

Do you think you’re a good person? Jesus says that ONLY GOD is good. Jesus also indirectly points to his own deity in the process when he asks, “why do you call me good….no one is good except God.” Jesus is pressing the implication that calling him good is tantamount to calling him God, since only God is good.

The rest of the story is simply a process by which Jesus reveals to the rich young ruler that he does not measure up to the standard of goodness (perfection) that is required to gain eternal life.

The disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus responded that with man, it is impossible. Why? Because no man can achieve the perfect goodness required to save himself.

But all things are possible with God. Jesus makes the impossible possible through His death on the cross!

Reflection

What has been your concept of goodness in the past? What is the standard you use to determine whether a person is good or not?

Do you agree with people who say that most people are basically good? Why or why not?

Do you think it’s possible for people to save themselves?

What do you think is required to inherit eternal life? How would you explain it to someone else?

 

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

The Power of Gratitude

GRATITUDE. It’s a word that can be hard to come by these days as the past few years have been challenging for a variety of reasons. Yet, I’ve been reflecting on the power of gratitude recently after an experience I had last month.

I had to write an essay for a program that I’m thinking about doing in the fall. The essay seemed simple enough – I had to share how I came to know Christ.

As I started writing the essay I began to think about the person who led me to that personal relationship with Christ. 

I became a Christian right after I turned 15 at a Christian summer camp called Hume Lake. I was sitting in the chapel with my church high school group and the speaker, Dewey Bertonlini, was sharing with all of us squirrelly high schoolers what it means to know Christ personally. He said that many of us were probably “on the fence” about making that decision.

My ears kind of perked up at that point. He then shared that if that was the case, we needed to get off the fence and actually make a conscious decision to follow Christ, to make Him the Lord of our lives. Once that happened, all of our sins would be forgiven – past, present and future.

I still have the Hume Lake Decision Bookmark that commemorates the day I made the commitment to follow Christ!

It was at that point, on August 13, 1985, that I asked Christ to be the Lord of my life. I knew I was on the fence and needed to start a relationship with Him. How amazing! 

I started to wonder whatever happened to Dewey. He was so animated and was able to keep my attention at 15. He humbly took the initiative to share Christ with all of us, which is a step of faith. 

I googled his name, found his email and decided to send him a message to express my gratitude. Here’s what I wrote:

“Hello, you don’t know me but I just wanted to thank you for your ministry! I became a Christian back in 1985 between my freshman and sophomore year in high school at Hume Lake. I’m now 51 and have been married for 28 years to my husband Dave. We work for Cru and have been working with young people for the last 30 years. I’ve got twin boys who are in college now. I’m in the process of applying to take some classes in spiritual formation and soul care and am writing my testimony. I’ve never forgotten the impact your talks at Hume Lake made in my life. I distinctly remember you asking the crowd if we were still on the fence in making a decision to follow Christ and I realized I was on the fence and needed to make a decision to follow Him. Thanks for your ministry! I thought I’d look you up online to see what you’ve been up to and I saw your email. I realized I needed to send you a quick email just to thank you for introducing me to Jesus! Here’s a photo of me and my family! Blessings to you and your family. Thanks again for the eternal investment you’re making in people’s lives.”

About a week later, I received this message back from Dewey:

“Jennifer, you Made My Day! I cannot put into words the refreshment your note brought to my parched soul!!! From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!”

I hesitated a bit before I sent the email to him because it was 37 years ago that this event happened! But when I saw his reply, it reminded me that it’s never too late to express gratitude to someone. Gratitude is so powerful, and God’s timing is perfect.

During this season of Lent I’ve been reflecting on how much God has done for me in sending His Son to die for me. When I sit and think of what my life has become through Christ and how He has changed me and continues to change me to become more like Him, my heart is filled with overflowing gratitude.

So….is there someone who comes to mind for whom you are grateful? It’s never too late to share that gratitude. It could be life changing! In what ways are you grateful for God’s presence in your life?

Thank you for your partnership and ministry to us. We are grateful for you!

NOTE: You can check out Dewey’s blog and podcast at: deweybertolini.com or by clicking the image below.

Is Wealth Immoral? (Part 3)

Ecclesiastes 5

10Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness! 11The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what is the advantage of wealth—except perhaps to watch it run through your fingers!

12People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich are always worrying and seldom get a good night’s sleep.

13There is another serious problem I have seen in the world. Riches are sometimes hoarded to the harm of the saver, 14or they are put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children. 15People who live only for wealth come to the end of their lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day they were born.

16And this, too, is a very serious problem. As people come into this world, so they depart. All their hard work is for nothing. They have been working for the wind, and everything will be swept away. 17Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.

18Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat well, drink a good glass of wine, and enjoy their work—whatever they do under the sun—for however long God lets them live. 19And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God. 20People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reasons for joy. (Ecclesiastes 5:10-20)


The Daily DAVEotional

You may have seen in the news recently that President Joe Biden has decided to implement a “wealth tax” in his next proposed budget. The idea would be to tax those who make over $100 million a minimum of 20%.

Predictably, some are heralding this move as a positive step as it’s “about time the rich pay their fair share” while others have noted that the majority of taxes collected by the IRS are already paid by the rich, so what is the limit of what is fair?

My point is not to take a side in this particular legislation but to demonstrate that we live in an era where it has become fashionable by many, including Christians, to decry wealth as being immoral. Jesus himself seemed to care for the underserved and underprivileged so it is even asserted by some that Jesus was against wealth.

I wrote about this last year in a series of posts here and here. The problem for Christians who think that wealth is immoral is that there is nowhere in Scripture where wealth is actually condemned. Additionally, many righteous men and women of faith were people of great means.

I explain how these ideas are reconciled biblically in the previous posts but here, in today’s passage, Solomon, one of the wealthiest men in the Biblical record, helps us understand more deeply God’s view of wealth.

Here are some of the highlights:

    • Solomon doesn’t condemn wealth. He himself was EXTREMELY wealthy. But he does point out that the LOVE of money is futile because it cannot bring true happiness (verse 10).
    • One problem that comes along with great wealth is that others come to help you spend it. Many lottery winners have commented on how much more stressful life became when they hit it big. Not only was there the worry of how to keep what they have won but suddenly, everyone you’ve ever known shows up wanting a piece of the pie (verse 11).
    • People who have great wealth can sometimes lose it all because, as Solomon points out, the money is put into risky investments (verses 13-14). How many sad stories are told of athletes who made millions while playing but who are living in poverty because they didn’t know how to manage their money?

Solomon’s admonition against the dangers of wealth can be summed up in verse 15:

People who live only for wealth come to the end of their lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day they were born.

Notice that Solomon doesn’t condemn wealth but warns against “living only for wealth”. This is another way of describing greed. The problem with living only for wealth is that you can’t take it with you. Wealthy people will die with nothing just as everyone else does. Jesus made this same point in the Luke 12 passage that I blogged about here.

Solomon ends his short discourse by actually saying that receiving wealth from God is a GOOD thing. He declares that wealth and the good health to enjoy it is a gift from God.

It seems clear from Scripture that wealth in and of itself is not bad. The real issues that are problematic are greed and envy. These two sinful vices are not reserved for the wealthy alone but for anyone regardless of your financial position.

Whatever your net worth is, the biblical admonition is to be content, not envying what others have or being greedy for more of what you think might make life more comfortable and enjoyable.

We should heed Solomon’s admonition to “enjoy your work and accept your lot in life….People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reasons for joy.” (Ecclesiastes 5:19-20)

Reflection

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your contentment with your current financial position?

Do you think money can bring true happiness? What are you relying on to provide happiness in your own life?

Do you agree with Solomon’s statement that people should enjoy their work and accept their lot in life? Why or why not?

What does it look like to “live only for money”? Have you ever had this attitude or disposition towards money?

When was a time when you experienced feelings of greed or envy? How can you ensure that your own heart motivations towards money and wealth are godly?

 

Photo by David McBee: https://www.pexels.com/photo/bitcoins-and-u-s-dollar-bills-730547/

“Sticks and Stones…” Revisited

Proverbs 18

4 A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook. (Proverbs 18:4)

14 The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear it if the spirit is crushed? (Proverbs 18:14)

20 Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction. (Proverbs 18:20)

21 Those who love to talk will experience the consequences, for the tongue can kill or nourish life. (Proverbs 18:21)


The Daily DAVEotional

When I was about 5 or 6 years old, my parents invited some friends over to the house. They had kids who were about the same age as me and my brother so while my parents were entertaining their guests, we were hanging out as a group of kids.

I’m the youngest in my family and was always very small for my age. As a result, I was often teased by older kids and even peers for being small.

I vividly remember being teased in this setting. Though I don’t remember the exact nature of the teasing, I do remember going to my mother and telling her that the other kids were making fun of me.

Her response was the classic line, “You tell them that ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.’

I soon learned that this phrase was a stock response to schoolyard bullying and verbal jabs and I used it frequently, until of course, I discovered more sophisticated ways of responding to the insults of others, such as the mocking “Neener, neener” and the classic “I know you are but what am I”.

The problem with the “Sticks and Stones” phrase is that it’s not true.

Of course there’s an element of truth to the saying. Yes, words cannot inflict physical damage on our bodies. But as Proverbs 18 shows, our words can bring life and healing to others OR they can wound or kill others.

The phrase disregards the sensitive nature of our emotions and our spirit.

Think about it. Our bodies have an immune system which fights off infections when we are sick.

Our bodies also have a repair system that kicks in when we are injured. An open wound will heal and even broken or fractured bones will heal themselves, though obviously, compound fractures may require special setting in order for proper healing to take place.

We don’t have an emotional immune system though to repair our minds when we are discouraged or damaged emotionally. We can carry the scars and wounds of emotional trauma for years.

We live in a culture where we can instantly communicate with just about anyone we want, and with social media, our words have an extensive reach that was unthinkable even 20 or 30 years ago.

There is a lot of anger and vitriol these days, especially on Social media platforms. Personally, I need constant reminders of the power of my words so that I don’t give in to the temptation to berate and belittle others, with no regard for the impact it has on them.

Reflection

Think of a time when you were teased as a kid? How did it make you feel? What emotions and thoughts do you have now as you remember that experience?

When is a time when your words wounded another person? What did you say? Have you asked for forgiveness and reconciled with that person?

When was a time when someone gave you life-giving words that nourished your soul? What was the context and in what ways did those words lift your spirit?

What has been your experience with your words on social media? What steps can you take to ensure that your words on social media are life-giving and not wounding or harming others?

 

Photo by Simon Wilkes on Unsplash

 

Super Results!

The Super Bowl is perhaps the biggest sporting event each year in America and each year, the day before the Super Bowl, Athletes in Action, the sports ministry of Cru, hosts a Super Bowl breakfast in the host city.

The Super Bowl Breakfast program

This year, the Super Bowl and Super Bowl breakfast was in Los Angeles for the first time since 1993.

This event is not a casual affair. 1500 attendees experience a top-notched, NFL-sanctioned event featuring some of the biggest names in the NFL.

The program honors a recipient of the Bart Starr Award, which is given to an NFL player who “best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community.”

Past recipients of the award include Peyton & Eli Manning, Kurt Warner, Drew Brees, Mike Singletary & Reggie White. 

This year’s recipient was Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks.

The program highlights the recipient of the annual Bart Starr award and also features a keynote speaker.

In addition to presenting the Bart Starr Award, the program includes a keynote speaker who shares a testimony or a message of faith. This year’s speaker was Frank Reich, the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

Pulling off an event as big as this is not easy, and the fact that the event is in a different location each year makes it challenging to secure the manpower to pull it off.

Being on staff with Cru, I was made aware of the need for volunteers and so I made myself available while also recruiting my high school friend and NFL fan Mike to help.

Part of the pre-event prep was setting up 1500 place settings for the breakfast attendees.

Mike and I were assigned security detail, no doubt due to my massive physique and imposing stature.  

It was quite a long day, which involved arriving at the hotel by 5:00 a.m. to help set up tables and then prepare for 1500 guests to arrive.

In addition to helping to ensure that attendees didn’t bother the special guests during the breakfast, Mike and I helped to secure the Guest VIP room that was located off of the lobby area. Our job was to keep eager fans from entering a special room reserved for special guests like Russell Wilson, Anthony Munoz and Ronnie Lott.

My friend Mike poses with Coach O (Ed Orgeron)

While we were waiting for the program to end, we saw Coach Ed Orgeron in the lobby. Coach O, as he’s called, was most recently the head coach of the LSU Tigers and led them to the National championship 3 years ago. His quarterback was Joe Burrow, who is now the quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals who happened to be playing in this year’s Super Bowl.

Coach O makes a personal phone call to a HUGE fan!

My friend Mike approached Coach O and told him that his dad is from Baton Rouge and is a HUGE LSU fan.

Coach O, in his typical gravelly, Cajun voice asked, “Your daddy, is he alive?”

Mike responded “yes”, to which Coach O replied, “well call him up.”

Mike quickly dialed the number of his dad and handed the phone to Coach O. The exchange went like this:

“Hello Jim….this is Coach O!”

“No it isn’t.”

“Yes, it is. I’m in a hotel lobby and your son Mike tells me you’re a huge LSU fan and so I just called to say ‘Go Tigers.’” 

He then handed the phone back to my friend Mike. 

Dave with Coach O. I’m a Coach O fan as well but for different reasons. He was a coach for the USC Trojans during the success of the Pete Carroll years.

Our job was actually not very glamourous. Other than Coach O, who was not actually there for the Super Bowl breakfast, we didn’t talk to or rub shoulders with any sports celebrities. I had to get my suit altered, I got up at 3:30 a.m. to drive to L.A., paid a small fortune for parking and didn’t eat breakfast or even see most of the program. 

I certainly wasn’t making friends when I had to tell a number of people that the lobby restrooms were not available while being used by certain VIPs.

So why did we do it? What was the benefit? 

The benefit was that because of our help and the generous support of hundreds of other volunteers, 18 people indicated a new commitment to Jesus in response to Coach Reich’s message. And that number is likely much higher due to an online component to the event that is harder to accurately evaluate.

Our job was very much behind the scenes and under the radar, and yet, we rejoice in knowing that people entered the kingdom as a result of the events of that day. When people come to know Jesus, it is rarely a one-person effort but often the result of hundreds, if not thousands of people who each play a small part in the journey. 

We are grateful for the part you play in helping us as we minister to Young Professionals and volunteer at Super Bowl events!

And as a long-time Los Angeles Rams fan, I personally rejoice in a narrow Super Bowl 56 victory!

Who is Jesus?

I have to admit that this past Christmas season was interesting. With all of the travel we had scheduled and with our house being in such disarray due to repairs from our slab leak damage, it was difficult to get in the Christmas spirit.

Normal Christmas reminders were absent as we weren’t able to put up any decorations until just a few days before Christmas.

When life is crazy and chaotic, as it has been for us, it’s easy to lose sight of Jesus.

A few days ago, the Cru Facebook page that I help to monitor received a message from a user in Africa named Mathias.

The message was a simple question: Who is Jesus?

The question “who is Jesus?” is perhaps the most important question that anyone can answer.

Jesus himself asked this question of his followers. In the book of Mark, Jesus recruits 12 men to follow him. Through his teaching, ministry, and many miracles Jesus slowly reveals his identity to his disciples. At the midpoint of the book, Jesus asks his disciples, “who do people say that I am?”

The disciples respond with the popular views of the culture at that time: some say you’re John the Baptist or Elijah; others say you’re a prophet.

Our society has a lot of answers to the question, “who is Jesus?”

Some people believe that Jesus was a great moral teacher – an example for us to follow. Others believe he was a prophet. A few people believe Jesus was a political revolutionary.

Jesus follows with a more pointed question, “who do YOU say that I am?”

Peter answers with the only valid response that hits the mark: Jesus is the Messiah; he is God!

In our fast-paced, materialistic culture, we can sometimes forget who Jesus really is and what he offers. For those of us who have known Jesus for a long-time, the Christmas season can seem rote or routine.

But I’m reminded that there are millions of people who don’t know Jesus, and the idea that God is real and personal is incredibly new and exciting.

People like John, also from Africa, message us every day, wanting to know who God is and how they can know Him.

Though this is a very minimal part of our job, it’s a privilege to be able to tell people all over the world who Jesus is and how they can know Him.

It really is amazing that the God of the universe stepped into humanity in the person of Jesus. He alone offers hope and peace to a world that is desperate and hopeless!


For more information on the Biblical evidence for Jesus’ deity, see my short article “Is Jesus God?”

Some related blog posts you might find helpful:

Does Your Understanding of the Nature of Jesus Really Matter?

Is Your View of Jesus Really that Important? (Part 2)

Further Proof That Jesus is God

 

Hidden Barriers to Experiencing Change

Jen and I had just parked the car and were heading over to the restaurant, where we were scheduled to meet long-time friends on the first day of our East Coast trip. I glanced at my phone and noticed a new text from our dog sitter. My heart beat instantly elevated as I read the text and learned that there was a water leak in our house.

A quick phone call and some remote sleuthing led me to determine that we likely had a slab leak. Why do these things always seem to happen when we’re out of town? This was the first day of our trip in which we were planning to see our sons at West Point during Parent weekend. I was now wondering if we would have to cut our trip short and head home.

Carpet damage extended beyond the hallway, into the neighboring living room as well as the downstairs bedroom.

The good news was that we had caught it early. Our dog sitter was able to get the water shut off and clean up the water, which was mostly contained in the laundry area and surrounding hallway. It seemed as if we had dodged a bullet and avoided a huge crisis.

However, when we returned from our trip, it quickly became apparent that the damage was more extensive than we had thought. The carpet stains revealed water had gone throughout the downstairs, not just in a small area in front of our laundry closet.

We called a restoration company and learned that there was moisture in a number of walls surrounding the affected areas.

A system of water-filled coolers and thermoses allowed us to use our toilets for a few days.

Our hope was to get the walls dried up and then repipe our house. We figured we could live without running water for a few days so I devised a plan to fill a couple of large coolers with water from my neighbor’s hose. This water would be used to fill our toilet tanks so we could use them.

My plans were dashed as I learned that the restoration company wouldn’t be able to begin work immediately because our house is older and the walls needed to be tested first for lead and asbestos.

Our vinyl tile was “toxic” so it had to be treated by specially qualified professionals.

That took a few days and though our walls ultimately came back negative, the vinyl tile in the laundry area, which was damaged and needed to be removed, did come back positive for asbestos.

That meant we had to get a special abatement crew to remove the vinyl tile.

Two and a half weeks later, we are finally back in our home with actual running water. But there is still much that needs to happen to get back to normal. It will take weeks, if not months, for things to be fully restored.

Unfortunately, the process of repairing what’s broken & getting back to “normal” often takes longer than we hope or expect. The rebuilding process can uncover hidden issues that must be addressed. Sometimes, we even need experts to help us deal with the issues that may be toxic.

I’ve found that in my spiritual life, change is often like the repairs on my house. Spiritually, the things I struggle with are often caused by deeper, hidden issues that are ignored or not properly addressed.

Walls and ceilings had to be opened up throughout our home in order to “fix” the problem and repipe our house.

Real change often means opening up walls and getting inside before things can really be fixed. And sometimes, we can benefit greatly from the help of others who can help us deal with the highly sensitive and toxic issues in our lives that my be holding us back from experiencing the growth and change Jesus wants for us.

Thank you for your partnership with us and your encouragement to us as we navigate the slab leaks of our home and our spiritual lives.

Please pray for us as we deal with insurance, repairs and the costs related to this latest leak.

Making Jesus “Findable” to the World!

Did you know that one of the most frequented internet sites for people wanting to know more about God and Jesus is hosted by Cru?

Since 2002, more than 4 million people have indicated a decision to trust Jesus as a result of visiting one of our evangelistic sites.

Back in February I wrote about how Cru is reaching millions of people through our digital websites everystudent.com and everyperson.com. By utilizing strategic google advertising, literally millions of people from around the world are visiting our sites to learn what it means to trust Jesus for salvation and experience His peace through the adversities of life.

I got involved earlier this year in helping to monitor our Facebook page, which has seen increased interaction as we’ve begun to utilize more advertising on that platform to attract seekers to our site.

A few months ago, Marilyn Adamson, the director of our everystudent.com site sent out a quick e-mail update to let people know how effective the site has been in recent months. I thought you might be encouraged to hear some of the results.

In July, nearly 6 million people visited one of our sites with over 80,000 people indicating a decision for Christ. That’s nearly 2600 people every day making a commitment to Jesus!

Everystudent.com has been translated into more than 40 different languages, giving people from nearly every country in the world an opportunity to access the information on the site in their own language.

Marilyn says, “Many of these people are in India, UK, Egypt, South Africa, Pakistan, China, Australia…all over the world, actually. Some come via a VPN because they live in difficult countries, under threats to them. Yet, in private, God is leading them to EveryStudent.com, then to himself, and revealing himself to them as they grow.”

It’s exciting to see so many lives being changed and it’s especially encouraging to hear from those whose lives have been impacted.

People like Adarkwah, who says, “I appreciate what you are doing for me and am very grateful. I hope by the end of this lesson, I will be the one to tell people how wonderful God is.”

Nikitha says simply, “Thank you so much…my new life has begun.”

Anne wrote, “Thank you for sharing your sites. I read everything you send and more on your sites. Finding this has opened my understanding of faith, grace, etc. It’s amazing! I mean amazing!! I’ll never be able to thank you enough.”

Many of those whose lives have changed by coming to the site and hearing the truth about God and Jesus, are in turn, sharing with others and becoming multiplying disciples.

It’s amazing to me how God uses every avenue at his disposal to reach those who are earnestly seeking him.

The great news is that you can use the site to reach those in your community and sphere of influence as well. To find out how you can make Jesus findable to those around you by utilizing the resources of these websites, go to http://www.everystudent.info. There, you’ll find a wealth of resources that will help you to see the various ways you can actively and passively point people to the site.

Thank you for your prayers and partnership as we seek to make Jesus Findable to Young Adults and the world!