Life is Like a Broken Phone

It was the last day of our Spring Break trip visiting a potential college destination our boys were considering. As I was getting into the rental car, my phone slipped out of my hand and fell to the ground. There was a moment of panic as the phone hit the ground but I had a protective case on it and I had dropped it before and always seemed to avoid any serious damage.

My phone, with the familiar spiderweb-like cracked screen on the bottom right.

The phone was lying face down on the ground. As I picked it up and turned it over, I immediately noticed a spiderweb-like screen crack on the bottom right corner, along with a longer crack stretching across the bottom of the screen. My heart sank in frustration. While my phone wasn’t brand new, it still had plenty of life in it from my perspective. We all know that these new-fangled smart phones aren’t cheap, and one can hardly afford to be buying the latest technology every other year.

I briefly entertained thoughts of self-condemnation, chastising myself for being so careless.

I inspected the phone and found that even with a cracked screen, it appeared to be working normally. I resolved that I would be one of those people who was walking around for months, if not years, with a phone that technically worked on the inside but was clearly damaged on the outside.

Not long after, I noticed that the back plate on the phone was starting to come apart as if it was coming unglued. I wondered if the impact of hitting the ground had weakened the integrity of the back plate, causing it to loosen. I tried to squeeze it back together but clearly the glue was no longer able to hold it in place. I took solace in knowing that the case was holding it all together and it was still working normally.

The back plate on my phone started to come apart. That cant be good!

Over the next few weeks and months, that plate started pulling farther and farther apart. I determined that the issue was not related to the impact of hitting the ground but instead, the battery was failing and beginning to swell, pushing the back plate off and making it impossible to reattach, even with new glue. At that point, I realized that I was going to have to bite the bullet and get a new phone.

After some reflection, I considered how much our lives are like that broken phone. Every single one of us is broken – flawed in some way. It’s inevitable. We are born into a broken and fallen world where nothing works quite the way it was designed, including us. But just because we’re flawed doesn’t mean we can’t thrive and be productive.

Some of our flaws are external and visible to others, like the cracked screen on my phone. But some of our flaws are internal, hidden deep within the depths of our souls, like the battery that began to swell. Perhaps we’re not aware of our issues, or perhaps we are and we’re just really good at hiding our stuff.

The Pharisees were upset that Jesus’ disciples didn’t wash their hands before eating according to Jewish religious traditions. Photo by Samad Deldar from Pexels

In Matthew 15, the Pharisees were upset with Jesus because his disciples didn’t ceremonially wash their hands before eating. Jesus responded to the Pharisees by saying, “from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all other sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands could never defile you and make you unacceptable to God!” (Matthew 15:19-20, NLT)

What Jesus is saying is that our brokenness is an internal issue. All of the ugly stuff that we say and do or think but hide, all stem from our heart. The problem is that just like the battery on my phone began to swell and expand outward, what is on the inside in our hearts inevitably comes out, often in dark and ugly ways.

Unlike our phones when they break, we cannot just order a new, unbroken version of ourselves. We’re stuck with having to navigate broken screens and swelling batteries in our lives.

Jesus provides grace to deal with our brokenness and our internal issues. Photo by Greg Weaver on Unsplash

This is what makes the gospel such good news. The gospel is not just a message that saves us from sin and allows us entrance into heaven some day. The good news is that Jesus understands our pain and our issues and he meets us where we’re at every day. There is grace and forgiveness when we blow it, and there is truth and power to experience freedom and deliverance from sin and shame.

As a Christ-follower, I’m becoming more keenly aware of my brokenness and the internal issues that afflict me. I’m grateful that Jesus loves me and accepts me despite my flaws and issues and my hope is that he will meet me in my brokenness and help me understand my flaws and issues so that I might experience true freedom and victory.

We greatly appreciate your partnership and your prayers for us as we navigate life’s challenges and seek to help Young Professionals do the same!

Embarking on a New Transition

It was Sunday afternoon when it dawned on me – our trash was scheduled to be picked up the next day and our boys were not around to collect the trash in the house and put the bins out on the street. I realized I had just inherited another chore – one that I had off-loaded to them several years ago.

It’s been a week since we dropped Jacob and Joshua off at the Naval Academy and West Point respectively. Jen and I have officially transitioned into Empty Nesters!

Joshua (left) and Jacob walking to their first day of kindergarten

Transitions are a fact of life. You start out as a baby and transition to a toddler. After the toddler phase comes the pre-school phase, followed by grade school and the dreaded teenage years. At 18, society views you as an adult, though we all know that mileage varies with teens these days.

As a Young Adult you either get a job or you go to college, after which you try to find a job and develop a career. Most Young adults will get married, at which point they enter a new series of transitions…Newly married with no kids which is often followed by the Married with kids stage, in which each child goes through the succession of aforementioned growth stages.

As a parent, I find that each phase has its pluses and minuses. Often, there’s a longing for your child to reach the next stage. I remember when our twins were babies, we couldn’t wait to get out of the diaper phase. And then when they were toddlers, we couldn’t wait for them to begin school, thinking about how much more restful and productive it might be for those few hours a day when the boys were not under our watchful eye.

Joshua (left) and Jacob walking to their car on their last day of high school

When they were in grade school, we couldn’t wait for them to get to middle school, when they could watch themselves long enough for Jen and I to go out on a date without having to pay for a sitter.  If you’ve priced sitters recently, you know what I’m talking about!

In high school, we couldn’t wait for them to be able to drive themselves so we wouldn’t have to be their personal Uber, driving them back and forth to school and all around town to their various events and activities.

Now that they’ve graduated and have transitioned to college, I find that I no longer am looking forward to the next transition but instead, I’m longing for the stages that have passed.

Joshua (left) and Jacob are transitioning down a new path

Transitions are normal and even healthy, even though they may be hard and sometimes painful. Transitions often bring new challenges and new responsibilities which are often an opportunity for growth and personal development.

When I think about it, I realize that our job with Cru is really to help people transition. Specifically, we help Young adults as they navigate the transition from college to the professional world. Life for the recent grad is complicated with a lot of new responsibilities and demands. Figuring out how to integrate the spiritual dimension is especially tough given the lack of resources the church has traditionally invested into this audience.

Our ministry division has recently undergone a slight transition as well. Since Millennials are getting older, we realize that very soon, our target audience will be folks who are “Gen Z”, as opposed to “Millennials”. The name Millennials will soon be non-descriptive of the people we’re actually ministering to. As a result, we’ve changed our name to Cru Embark, to reflect the transitory nature of the 20-Something audience. In the months to come, you may notice some changes in our logo and other materials but know that our mission is the same and our audience is the same. We’ve simply made a slight name change to reflect the audience to which we’re seeking to minister.

We’re so grateful for you and your prayers for us. Please continue to pray for us as we Embark on this new transition of Empty-Nesthood and as we continue to help Young Professionals navigate the transitions of life!

One of the last photos of Jacob (left) and Joshua before Jacob reported to the Naval Academy.

Expanding Our Influence Through the Internet

I recently saw a post on my twitter feed that showed how Amazon has become so big, that it’s beginning to dwarf older traditional brick and mortar stores. Amazingly, 30% of ALL online shopping in December was through Amazon. Best Buy was a distant 2nd with less than 4% of the online holiday shopping market share. (Click here for an article on Amazon’s December dominance)

It’s no wonder that retail giants such as Sears and Macy’s are shutting down stores at alarming rates.

The internet has completely transformed how we shop. It’s also changed how we think and gather information. Traditional news sources such as newspapers and magazines are becoming a thing of the past as most people now utilize the internet as their primary source of information.

The EveryStudent.com and EveryPerson.com websites are reaching literally thousands of people each day in every country of the world. The blue areas represent locations where people have connected with the site.

A few years ago, Cru recognized the potential of the internet for world evangelization, especially in countries traditionally closed to the gospel. EveryStudent.com was born and has now been supplemented with the sidekick site EveryPerson.comIn every year since it’s existence, it’s reach and influence have increased.

Last year, for example, 24.2 million people visited the site, with 343,000 people indicating decisions for Christ. That’s an average of 940 people per day, many of whom live in countries where it is difficult to even send a missionary, much less produce a genuine decision for Christ.

StartingWithGod.com is a website that helps new believers continue in their growth journey with Jesus.

With the rapid growth of the site, Cru realized the need to provide resources for the growing number of converts, so they created the site StartingWithGod.com, where new believers can sign up to receive a spiritual starter kit that’s designed to provide basic follow-up and discipleship.

After receiving an update a few weeks ago detailing the performance of the EveryStudent / EveryPerson sites, I sent a quick note of encouragement to the director of the site expressing my gratitude for her leadership and vision to expand the reach of the gospel in non-traditional ways.

Though I wasn’t expecting a response, I got a reply where I was reminded that I had contributed an article that is being used on the StartingWithGod.com follow-up site.

I don’t quite recall all of the circumstances, but I had given a talk many years ago on “The nature of faith”. I took the concepts of that message and created a short article, which I submitted for use in this follow-up site.

I was surprised to learn that last year, over 6,000 people read my article on the English site alone. Considering there are alternate versions of the site in Arabic, Chinese, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish, the number of people around the world who read the article was potentially in the 10’s of thousands.

A snapshot of Dave’s article, “The Nature of Faith.” Click image to go directly to the article.

I was amazed, as I had no idea that many people were reading an article that I wrote several years ago. To tell you the truth, I had entirely forgotten about the article being a part of the spiritual starter kit. It was a reminder to me how God can take something seemingly insignificant in our eyes and multiply it many times over for His kingdom purposes.

Here’s what’s really exciting. YOU can begin to reach others outside of your normal social circles by utilizing the resources that EveryStudent.com provides.

EveryStudent.info/videos is a site that offers a number of short training videos to help you learn how to utilize the articles on the site within your Facebook feed to potentially reach thousands of people with the message of Christ.

In particular, the 4th Section, titled “Impact Thousands” gives some practical input on how to post links to your Facebook and other social media feeds that will direct people to the EveryStudent.com website.

Give it a try and let us know how it goes.

The Amplified Life

When you think of “Orange County”, what comes to your mind?

Some people think of the beaches or world-renowned surfing. Others think of sailing or yachting in Newport Harbor. Still others think of iconic locations such as Disneyland or the old El Toro Marine Base.

Whatever your experience is with Orange County, one thing is certain – it is diverse. It’s diverse culturally as well as geographically.

SaddlebackSnow
South Orange County’s Santiago Peak tops out at over 5600 feet.

Within 30 minutes of surfing or sailing, you can be hiking on a trail leading to a snow-capped peak of over 5600 feet.

Whether it’s surfing, sailing, hiking, biking, shopping, entertainment or sports, there are no shortage of activities in Orange County for the adventure seeker.

Many Millennials who live and work in Orange County are looking to satisfy the longings in their souls with the experiences that the “OC Lifestyle” provides.

The nature of people is that we all want full and meaningful lives and we generally pursue those things that we think will provide the meaning and happiness we desire. For many, that means long hours at work seeking to climb the corporate ladder. Or it means getting the right car or living in the right neighborhood.

In John 10:10, Jesus said that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Jesus offers the kind of life we really want and were created to experience and He declares that He’s the only authentic source of real life.

Hiking in Black Star Canyon on a Spring Weekend.
Hiking in Black Star Canyon on a Spring Weekend.

As we reach out to Millennials in Orange County, we recognize the desire that Young Professionals have to experience all that life in the OC has to offer. Our desire is that Young Professionals in Orange County would experience “the fullness” of life that Jesus offered – to experience life at “full volume.”

Jesus offers a life of meaning and purpose by knowing Him intimately and experiencing the spiritual life for which He created us. We refer to this as the “Amplified” life, a life of spiritual adventure where Christ is amplified in us so that His love might be amplified through us to those around us.

Orange County is an awesome place to experience the amazing beauty and diversity of God’s creation. But all of the adventurous opportunities that exist here in “The OC” pale in comparison to experiencing God Himself.

Jen meets with a couple of young engineers for lunch at The District, a shopping and entertainment center located in central Orange County.
Jen meets with a couple of young engineers for lunch at The District, a shopping and entertainment center located in central Orange County.

Our hope is that Millennials in Orange County would experience an amplified life, where Jesus Himself is the source of adventure and excitement in their life, even as they’re surfing, hiking, working or whatever.

We’ve created a website: ocamplified.com to help connect Young Professionals in Orange County. Check it out and let us know what you think.

And if you know Young Professionals living or working in Orange County, let us know. We’d love to meet them, connect them to other Young Professionals and do our best to help them experience the Amplified Life – the life of adventure that only Jesus can provide.

2015 – The Year in Review

Well, 2015 is officially in the books! It’s been a challenging year in many ways as we started out with Jen being in the hospital for a week. But God is good and we’ve been blessed in many ways. Jen has been slowly improving since her condition was stabilized in February and there are many fun memories to revisit – from the boys starting high school and excelling at Cross Country, to getting our first family pet, the boys flying on a plane by themselves for the first time, to seeing friends & family members we hadn’t seen in a while.

Here’s a 2 minute video glimpse of 2015 for the Lowe Family. Have a Happy New Year and here’s to hoping for a blessed 2016!

Starstruck

Waiting at UCLA to meet with the Rheumatologist
Waiting at UCLA to meet with the Rheumatologist

This last week marked the one year anniversary of the current health journey that we have been on. I remember vividly being in Nashville when Jen began experiencing sharp pains in her chest that landed her in the ER. I remember my friend Mark Short, who was a student years ago during our University of Arizona days and who also happens to now live near Nashville, adjusting his schedule on a moment’s notice to come and visit us in the hospital. I also remember my fears and anxieties being relieved when the doctor told us that he believed that Jen was suffering from walking pneumonia.

Of course that was just the beginning of the journey. There have been 5 hospital stays, countless doctor visits, chemo-therapy infusions, biopsies, endless tests and procedures and enough blood drawn it seems to fill an empty blood bank.

After Jen’s last flare in January landed her back in the hospital for a week, we were advised by our Pulmonologist to seek more advanced medical care and treatment from experts at a teaching hospital. We ended up setting up some appointments at UCLA and that has been very helpful for Jen in the course of her treatment.

Last month, we had two appointments at UCLA that were helpful and encouraging. The first appointment was scheduled during the first day of spring break so it became an all day family event. We made the best of our time in L.A. by spending a day at Universal Studios, which the boys were pretty excited about.

Joshua (left) and Jacob in front of the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine at Universal Studios.
Joshua (left) and Jacob in front of the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine at Universal Studios.

The next week we were back at UCLA for a full day of tests followed by a consultation with the Pulmonologist. Jen got a CAT Scan of her lungs and also had a Pulmonary Function Test.

When we met with the doctor, he showed us the image of the CAT Scan and compared it side by side with the image of her lungs when she was in the hospital in January. The difference was noticeable. Her lungs now look more clear.

However, Jen’s Pulmonary Function Test results showed that there is still some kind of restriction. The doctor said that could be the result of some lingering inflammation or it could be the result of nearly a year of being pretty inactive and sedentary. We remain hopeful that Jen’s lung capacity will increase over time.

Near the end of our appointment, we met with the head of the Pulmonary group, a doctor named John Lynch. Apparently, Dr. Lynch is one of the leading experts on Vasculitis in the United States. He told us that Vasculitis is pretty rare, with only 3 to 7 cases per million each year. That means there are probably only about 1000-2000 cases of it each year in the U.S. Because of that, he said it’s good to get treatment from doctors who are very familiar with the disorder.

He also told us that based on his observations and Jen’s test results, he thought she might be in remission. That was certainly good news – probably the most positive news we’ve heard in the last year!

Later in the week, when Jen met with her local Pulmonologist, he seemed star struck when Jen told him that we had met with Dr. Lynch. His comment, in an excited tone was, “You met with John Lynch! Wow! I spoke with him at a conference once!”

After our appointment, Jen and I went to dinner at a local mall in hopes of avoiding the rush hour traffic on our way home.

Dave & Jen pause to take a picture with Millhouse from the Simpsons at Universal Studios.
Dave & Jen pause to take a picture with Millhouse from the Simpsons at Universal Studios.

As we were exiting the restaurant, I walked right by Bob Newhart, who was walking with his wife into a different restaurant. Jen had already walked past him without noticing. Starstruck, I caught up to her and in an excited voice exclaimed, “Jen, we just walked right past Bob Newhart!” I guess it’s just a fun footnote of our trips to L.A.

Jen is continuing with her current treatment and continues to lower her dosage of Prednisone, which is now being reduced at a slower rate. She is now taking 9 mg per day.

The main issues now are continuing to build lung capacity, while hoping and praying that the many side effects of Prednisone will begin to subside. Among the side effects we are hoping will dissipate are blurred vision, bursitis in the knees, water retention and weight gain, and loss of hair.

Please pray with us for Jen’s continued recovery. Pray both for increased lung capacity and also that her body will be healed of the many negative side effects of Prednisone. Pray especially for perseverance as the recovery process often feels like 2 steps forward and 1 step backward.

Please pray for healing from a minor surgery Jen had to remove a skin cancerous mole as well as a tooth extraction and permanent implant that will be coming up in the near future.

As always, we are grateful for your continued prayers, support and many notes of love and encouragement!

Click here to read the pdf version of The Lowedown.

The Thanksgiving Tree

A picture of our Thanksgiving tree on our Kitchen counter
A picture of our Thanksgiving tree on our Kitchen counter

This November, Jen initiated a new tradition in our house. We call it the thanksgiving
tree. It’s a pretty simple idea. A handful of long, slim branches placed in a vase with dozens of cutout paper leaves attached with ribbons. Every night at dinner, one of us would pull a paper leaf off the tree and read a Bible verse that was printed on it related to giving thanks. We would then go around the table and share something we were thankful for.

Since we agreed not to repeat thoughts from previous days, it was a great opportunity to
expand our hearts and think about blessings beyond the biggies like my home, my family
and the food on the table.

Last week, Jen and I attended our staff conference to say goodbye to the friends and colleagues we have worked with for the past 25 years. It was a bittersweet moment to share our vision with them concerning our new direction and also brought a moment of finality to our 25 years of ministering to college students. We were truly thankful.

In the midst of saying goodbye, we received an enormous amount of encouragement and words of thanks and gratitude for our years of service and the impact we’ve been blessed to make in the lives of students and staff in our region.

Below are a few notes that encouraged us, and hopefully will encourage you as well.
As we read through all the notes that were given to us, we were particularly encouraged to hear about the indirect impact we have made in the lives of people we have never met.

Like us, you may not directly know all of the people whose lives have been impacted
through your partnership, but your impact is real nonetheless.

As November ends and the Thanksgiving season is officially
behind us, we are incredibly thankful for you, our ministry partners.
Because of your prayers and generous giving, we are able to
influence many lives for the sake of Christ!

Chris Warren is a graduate of UC Davis where he was involved with Cru for 4 years. Chris now serves as the director of Cru at the University of Arizona.

“Dear Dave & Jen,

I want to thank you two so much as you’ve both significantly influenced me. Your faithfulness has led us to where we are today. So thank you!”

– Chris Warren is a graduate of UC Davis where he was involved with Cru for 4 years. Chris now serves as the director of Cru at the University of Arizona.

“Dear Dave & Jen – You guys rock! It’s a privilege to labor alongside such faithful people and to see you continue following Jesus wherever He takes you. As someone who found Jesus and grew up in faith at Davis when you were leading there, I can never repay you for the change in my life (Jesus can, though, so stay tuned for that). You make such a difference in our world!”

– Beth Sekishiro is a UC Davis graduate and now serves on staff with Cru at Cal Poly, Pomona.

Lucas Mathews“Dave & Jen – I’ve never met you but I am a UC Davis grad. I understand that you started the movement at Davis. I wanted to thank you because through that movement I came to know Jesus and now I am interning with Cru at UC Davis. None of that would have happened without your vision and passion to reach my campus. God Bless!”

– Lucas Mathews came to know Christ at UC Davis through Cru and is now serving as an intern with Cru.

Click here to read the pdf version of The Lowedown.

 

Communicating a “Boundless” gospel

David speaking at our San Diego Winter Conference

The spotlight blinded me as I stood before 1000 students and staff who were gathered together for our biggest event of the year – our San Diego Winter Conference. I had just been introduced by one of our former students, who was serving as the MC for the conference.

Read the latest “Lowedown” here.

Baby Steps!

Jen and Dave as Emcees for CCC's regional staff retreat
Jen and Dave as Emcees for CCC’s regional staff retreat

One of the things that has been fun about our job is that we have had more opportunities to speak and teach and influence our staff. Not only have we spoken on many campuses this year but Dave flew to Daytona Beach in January to address all of Campus Crusade’s new staff.

We had fun serving as Emcees for a portion of our staff regional retreat and in addition, Jen and I were able to lead a training seminar in “Building movements” with 25 new leaders of ethnic movements.

One of the points we shared with these new leaders is that building anything significant takes time. To help illuminate the principle, Jen showed a clip from the movie “What About Bob?”

In the movie, Bill Murray plays Bob, a neurotic patient who drives his psychiatrist nuts (pun intended)!

Bob finds a new doctor, Leo Marvin, played by Richard Dreyfuss, who recommends to Bob a ground-breaking new book (his own) entitled Baby Steps.

The idea, Dr. Marvin explains, is to take small steps to achieve a larger goal. By taking small steps, the stress that sometimes comes with the enormity of a task can be eliminated.

Bob takes the advice to heart and as a result, develops an unhealthy attachment to his new doctor, which ultimately drives Dreyfuss to the loony bin.

It’s easy to sometimes feel overwhelmed with the stuff of life like Bob. When I think about the enormity of our job, I can sometimes begin to relate to Bob’s neuroses. We’ve been given the leadership task of reaching over 2 million students who do not culturally relate to our traditional ministries. It’s no small task and be quite overwhelming at times.

We’re trying to heed the advice of that wise sage, Dr. Leo Marvin, who encouraged Bob to take “baby steps.”

As we look back on this past academic year, I can say that we’ve definitely taken “baby steps.”

Though there’s still much to do, we’ve seen new Destino ministries started at Chico State, San Jose State, and UC Irvine, along with a new Destino team that is focusing ministry efforts at Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton.

We’ve seen new Bridges volunteers raised up at San Jose State, Berkeley and Hawaii.

Most importantly, we’re seeing more and more of our staff and students step out in faith to reach into these different cultural communities with the message of the gospel.

We’re reminded that change is often slow and incremental rather than fast and instantaneous. As Bob quipped to Dr. Leo Marvin, “we’re doing the work, we’re not slackers!”

Thanks for your partnership with us in taking “baby steps” to seeing every student of every culture have the opportunity to hear and respond to the message of Christ.

Click here to download the pdf version of “The Lowedown”…

Fall Retreats

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at the Fall Retreat for our San Diego Campus ministries. I do a series of talks based on Jesus’ invitations in the gospels to “Follow Me!”

Check out this brief highlight video of the weekend. I’m not prominent but if you look closely, you’ll see me make an appearance!

This weekend, our family will be in the San Bernardino mountains as Jen and I will be speaking at the Fall Retreat for my alma mater, Cal Poly Pomona. Please pray for us.

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