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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

More Than This?

Our life and times are not what they appear to be. I can hardly believe how easy it is to get sucked into the idea this life offers everything there is to take pleasure in... and everything you'd want to take pleasure in! It's The Deception as old as mankind itself, " Did God really say....?" Do you recognize those, Satan's, enticing words to Eve there in the Garden as he worked to deceive her? If we recognize the challenge in those words, the insight such recognition  offers can influence so many of the choices we make daily.

Perhaps some past generations have been better at dealing with this deception, but if you're a student of the Bible and history, I suspect you will agree with me. The world has probably never seen a more energetic and creative "en mass" seduction effort than what we are witnessing and being influenced by right now.

Our Lord Jesus Christ made a very clear and interesting statement in reference to the last times. He said that had his Father not shortened theM, even the very elect would be deceived and fall away. Hmmm.

Give this some thought...prayerfully. Let me know what you are thinking, too. Don't hesitate to get back to me ....I know I'm being very cryptic here. But I suspect that if you are personally invested in this daily discipline, too, the Spirit of God will offer you even more insight  and opportunities for discussion.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Contributor Chagrin?

The national economy is not a support-raising friend. Corporate America may be doing better, but small business.....NOT! But even corporate America reflects the economic pinching. Down sizing adjustments have been made in work schedules, employee numbers, hours worked, bonuses, healthcare packages, etc. The money is just not out there.  

So what's a God-trusting wanna-be-campus- missionary supposed to do? Well, it still crystallizes around TRUST.

 I'm frequently asked, "What do you do knowing that so many of the people who supported you in the past are now on fixed incomes?"...a question I have found myself answering multiples of times in the past months. The answer to it is simple: expect less. 
 Unless you've done some support raising or you've been faith-supported yourself, you can't know the solid sense of exhilaration I get when someone makes a monthly commitment of $10, $15, $20. It's HUGE! It's like lifting a cold drink to one's lips on a really hot working day. In the context of faith support it merely means I need many more of those. The reassurance I get when my friends--the people who know me well--are behind me, that they are there, praying and emotionally invested...well, it's irreplaceable

I've also discovered Contributor Chagrin. That's my label for what friends feel who want to give, but slip into a three step faith-deterioration skid.  Sympathetic and well-intentioned they realize they can't give "enough." Disappointed and maybe even a tad ashamed(?) of what they can give, they procrastinate and....and then don't do anything! Oooh, that's thrice the pain! It's painful for them that they can't give "enough," that they've done nothing  yet--and then don't do anything; and it's painful for me because I know they intended to support me, but they haven't, and my support account's growth curve is flat, flat, f-l-a-t. So, please let me encourage you, "Don't be that guy!" I can promise  you that what you think of as "a little bit" will go a long, long way. So, again, here's my  Missions Door web page, see the top right-hand corner, and click!

In just a few days I will be flying to the Tucson area. I'll be joining other Missions Door ministry staff from the Southwest and Rocky Mountain mission regions for a collaborative conference. It'll be encouraging to spend time with these men and women similarly focused on ministry efforts throughout these two regions. The event, referred to as SWaRM (Southwest and Rocky Mountain...hmmm), will offer some strategic encouragement, program planning insights, spiritual focus, and fellowship.

Thanks..n..keep praying.

Hey...if you've not done so already, please sign-up at the top of this page for my blog updates. The update notices will then show up in your email. Thanks again!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

OK, so how do you spell relief?

Take that question out of the narrow context of a Rollaids commercial. Then, if we make it about stress management, it asks a broader and every bit as practical question: "How do we manage stress; what's our chosen method?" 

I think as a general rule we learn how to deal with stress at home growing up. Dad and and mom, brothers, sisters, uncle Fred, ...and even our friends "teach" us.  Of course the most influential members in that very abbreviated list are those closest to us, those around whom we spend our most formative hours, days, months, and years. We watch and learn the details of the stress-management process, the necessary management tools, how and where to get those necessary tools, and what the process is supposed to look and feel like. 

As we get older we tend to apply those stress-management skills to all kinds of things. It's become pretty automatic; we just tend to do it. Again as a general rule, I think that's probably not a bad thing in and of itself, but it can get really out or hand. It can get crazy and personally destructive. As our stress mounts--around personal issues, work challenges, relationship issues, money concerns, academics, romantic drama, competitive goals, etc.,--our stress management "stuff" can shift into overdrive, and get really out of hand before we even realize it! With all that stress around us we just want to feel good. That occasional cola can become an every several hour "gotta have one." That wonderful morning coffee can become a love affair with the coffee pot. Shopping for our weekly needs becomes shopping for shopping's sake--all just because it's a welcome diversion...and it feels so good. We're visiting feel-good places, experiences, substances, things, people, situations more, and we linger there or with them a little longer. I'm sure you get my drift. We can very happily become the "bond slave" of our own stress management tools and behaviors.  So, I've discovered it's often necessary to take a close-up and carefully examine my own stuff!

 In his Epistle to the Philippians the Apostle Paul emphasizes moderation--"Let your moderation be known to all men..." (Phil. 4:4ff). And in his Letters to the Romans (12:1,2) and the Corinthians (2 Cor. 14:14 ff.) he challenges us to develop intentional, conscious awareness of our mental and emotional routines...and to be always carefully aware of them and managing them. The gospel writer, John, late in his life, similarly engages this theme when he closes his First Epistle with the fatherly admonition, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols!" (I John 5:21).

So, how do you spell RELIEF? Let's support one another around the development of good "stuff self-management" skills, and in ways that do not become self-compromising or self-destructive. In a world that appears to be going crazy with excesses and related excuses for all kinds of craziness (around things that used to be recognized unequivocally as aberrant behaviors), may we support one another to do the good disciplines. Let's vow to keep ourselves free so we really can be Children of God who love and do "good works." (e.g., Matt. 5:16; Titus 2:7)


 Missions Door page (click there)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Birds of a Feather

Designing and building stuff was always my thing. Even as a kid those events were my "sweet spots." After high school I briefly studied Architecture, but some timely observations triggered me to change my focus to engineering. Four years later my earned Bachelor's degree (BS, Engineering, 1970) from Oregon State University was from the department of Production Technology with a minor in Business Administration. (The same program at OSU is now advertised as Civil Engineering Technology.) 

In school I was an active member of the student chapter of Construction Engineering Students and the student Association of General Contractors. My after-graduation ambitions were modest by today's standards and a special young lady had also entered my life. My career plans were put on a two-year hold by the Vietnam war conflict, then....finally...I got an engineering job with CH2M-Hill. My role found me involved supervising the resurfacing of runways at Portland International Airport and then the construction of a 1.5 million gallon water tank on Mt. Sylvania in Lake Oswego, Oregon. 
I was smitten.
 But the winds of change were blowing. My plan soon came to a grinding halt. Along the way our first two sons had been born, and long story short, I lost my job. So I decided this might be a good time to get some seminary training. (Did you hear the logic in that?) Then, precious people God placed around me through those years and some other related uncertainties together influenced my career path. God only knows all those details. (Proverbs 16:9)

When I at was OSU all my close friends were engineers. We hung together through those special undergrad years. As a general rule we were all very studious...and not a slacker among us! Even at that time I was very aware of God's presence and call on my life. I translated the challenges I found in the gospel and personally forwarded them to my interested friends. Some of them developed vital faith and similarly became followers of Jesus Christ. That piece--the like-minded element in it--intrigued and affirmed me then, and I believe it will play an important role in my present and future support-raising activities.

I know that fellow engineers and engineer-minded men and women understand the territory of the profession. So I believe asking fellow engineers to get behind my effort for the CSM campus is both appropriate and strategic! 90 percent of CSM's students are engineering focused. Those graduates work really hard for their degrees, and they're of particular interest to me. As alums, CSM holds a special place in their hearts, it's a "birds of a feather" sort thing. If they are also Christ followers, they share a Kingdom passion for the CSM community and its people. So, I am particularly seeking their insight, suggestions, their prayers and their financial support. 

So again, I'm directing everyone who wants to help me to go to my web page at Missions Door (click there) and see the top right corner of that page for donation next steps. That's the shortest distance between getting the word out and my being able to actually get started on campus getting the WORD out! 

  • For strategic people connections...and for God's favor
  • For the perseverance in the use and management of time and energy juggling what I'm doing right now
  • For wisdom and insight in my decision-making processes


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Ministry That Can Be: Some humbling and exciting thoughts....and prayers

 The very thought that I could again be focused to touch peoples' lives, and this time on the Colorado School of Mines campus...well, it's precious!  Since my successful application to Missions Door eight months ago, I've grown increasingly excited and marvelously aware of the opportunity I've been given. 

1977 Western Seminary Grad
I remember feeling this way in Oregon, in my early thirties. At that time I had recently graduated from Western Seminary. I'd been appointed by an international missions organization (the same one!) and I was trying to finish up my support-raising effort and move to Colorado. The move and support-raising success triggered an adventure at the University of Denver. It became a 15-year tenure at DU, of course now history, that saw scores of students come to Jesus Christ. It similarly impacted the lives of many precious members of the University's academic, administrative, athletic and faculty communities.

This past s-l-o-w eight months have prompted some interesting, albeit very unofficially prognostic comparisons between then, in my 30's..and now.
A young missionary family serving  the DU campus, 1987
  • Then....I had never started a university-focused ministry before--especially on a campus with an earned reputation (at that time) that said to Protestant evangelical ministries, "Go away; leave us alone!" Also, outside of my personal experience as a undergraduate student, I didn't really know how a college or university worked or was put together. But now...I have that very successful ministry PLUS 15 years of administrative insight at Centers for Christian Study International and VP for Student Affairs at Rivendell College. I even helped start the college! 
  • Then....fresh out of seminary, I had a pretty tight set of expectations for what a good, biblical ministry should accomplish. I had excellent biblical training and understanding around the rebellions and sinful nature of man. However, I had almost zero training or insight to practically love and support tragically fallen and emotionally broken people to move beyond their emotional ruts and relationship scars. But now...I have the academic degrees, pedigrees, 20 years of proven experience, and some modest confidence to recognize first my limitations and then those of the precious people God brings my way to empower them.
  • Then....I was largely ignorant of university systems, administrative protocols and the reasons behind them. I really had little knowledge of how it all worked together to support student integrity, personal and community growth and development, or how it all contributed to a community-college/university reputation. But now....I've "been there; done that." I know it inside and out, backwards and forwards. For example, I've created the documents that support a student community's living environment and that help distinguish it as a healthy, supportive and cooperative system.
  • Then....I was a young guy focused predominately on collegians. But I worked hard to relate and be relevant to the administrative echelon, to departmental faculty, and to the university's team staff--the grounds crews, facility and maintenance personnel, security, etc. But now....because I've "been there and done that too" I've found I can communicate easily with administrators, faculty, and staff on a peer level, share war stories and count battle scars--yes--of the professional and the life-relationship varieties. 
  • general life experience was comparatively limited. Understandably, it made it harder for me to see how to make student development programs practical and progressively relevant. But now...I can see how and why I was near-sighted in my development perspective. I know, oh so much better, what to do, for example, in both supporting and training my own student leaders, but also in my attempt to galvanize more general curiosity and involvement of the student community and its diverse leadership base.  
OK...Please read this blog entry in context with my many other entries. I'm not really trying to toot my own horn, but I do realize no one else will do it for me

As you can tell, I'm genuinely excited and humbled to be in the position I'm in, this opportunity God has given me....again! I covet your prayers, your financial support, your insight, and your collaborative partnership. Again, if you have not been there already, please visit my web page at Missions Door (click there).


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dead People Walking?

A friend was in our home fidgeting with his new mobile phone. Head down, deeply concentrating on details he saw in his screen,  he walked slowly, albeit purposefully, across the living room still carrying a marginally intelligent conversation"? I quipped, "Dead man walking?," and his broken concentration erupted in laughter. If you have a smart know the territory.

Then the spiritual truth in the situation broke in on me. How easy it is to get lost in the spiritually distracting demands of a moment, of the week or the month...of my life. All the contemporary important tyrannical stuff subtly inserts itself into my intimate routines; it easily becomes the stuff of life. Ugh.

No cell phone criticism intended here, but in that moment I was curiously reminded how important it is for me to practice the reality of my Spiritual life (Colossians 3:1ff); 
  • to consciously and purposefully dedicate myself to disciplined parallel commitments that contextualize today's demanding temporal circumstances (Romans 12: 1-2).
  • to appropriately subject myself to the always present and ever jealous availability of our marvelous loving God (I John 5: 21).
  • to live in the unfathomable truth that He literally died for me in time and space (John 3:16)!
  • to invest myself in the implicit demands that spiritual truth makes on my time and how I use it (Philippians 2: 5-11) .
  • to develop the variety of life and spiritual disciplines (virtues) and skills I am commanded to master and humbly practice (Galatians 5:22; I Peter 1: 3-9). 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Your Plan, My Plan & Profundity?

When someone asks me, "How's it going," what do I say? I suspect that answer tends to depend on whether the person asking is really a friend or just an acquaintance--and whether I think he or she really expects more than a superficial answer.

Brandow Brothers
But there's another contributing influence to my response, too. It's about whether or not what's going on for me--how my day or life is going in the moment--seems to match-up with how I think it should feel or look or be. Implicitly, my answer to the question now perhaps becomes a mild reflection of how well I think life is playing out. Is my day or life going according to my plan and expectations? Is it on course (happily!), off course (a bummer), irretrievably off course (a real big downer)?  

Sis Suzie and Dad
Of course, how "on" or "off" course my life feels gets emotional. We all do that. And as we all know, our emotions tend to predict our behavior. So, wisely and appropriately I remind myself how Biblical scripture unequivocally challenges me, a Christ follower, to police my thoughts, be real (not phony) AND to think profoundly! 

Profundity is demonstrated in one's resolve. It's about purposefully, every day, and especially in such moments, choosing to anchor and then interpret the events and circumstances of my life from a broader perspective. It's one that stretches beyond the serendipitous influence of mere time-space limited scenarios and circumstances. 
Three Generations

Here are some simple Biblical examples I know of  that illustrate this kind of resolve--and profundity:
  • Abraham's response to Isaac's inquiry with the statement, "God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." Genesis 22:8
  • Job's response to his wife's inquiry, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him!" Job 13:15
  • Jesus' anguished statement to his Father in the garden, "... yet not my will but thine be done." Matthew 26:39
  • Jesus' John 9:3 statement to his disciples that the reason behind the blind man's troubling situation was, "...that the works of God might be manifest in him (the blind man)." 
  • Peter's statements to Jewish Christian exiles, "...though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials." 1Peter 1: 3-6, the contrast between vs s. 3-5 with vs. 6.
  • Jesus' admonition to his disciples to order their whole lives around Kingdom principles and priorities, "...but seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things (food, clothing, housing) will be yours as well." Matthew 6:33 
  • I think of the song, "This world is not my home I'm just passing through, my treasures are laid up away beyond the blue, the angels beckon me from heavens open door, and I can't feel at home in this world anymore..."


So, how's it going?


Monday, March 17, 2014

A Timely Support-Raising Update

Regarding my effort to begin a Campus Ambassador ministry outreach on the Colorado School of Mines campus, the support-raising challenge still comes first. 

I am directing everyone who wants to help me to go to my web page at Missions Door (click there) and see the top right corner of that page for donation next steps. That's the shortest distance between getting the word out and my being able to actually get started on campus getting the WORD out!

I have chosen to get my support raised before I begin actually working on campus. That decision promises NO DISTRACTIONS to the ministry effort once I actually get there. I'm really looking forward to being able to just focus on the ministry effort, new student and faculty contacts, and the general and three-dimensional adventure (spirit-soul-body) that a new ministry effort like this introduces.

In the meantime, I am p-a-i-n-fully (and frustratingly) distracted.  I'm doing furniture restoration and repair, maintaining a small counseling practice called Fine Tune Your Life...and raising the financial support.The sooner I can stop doing those other things, the better! But I must do those things now, too.

Would you like to see some miracles happen...and be a vital vicarious participant? If you've not already gone to my web page to join with me, do it now (above). Then text me that you're prayerfully anticipating some miraculous things at CSM....and pray with me for rapid success in this important support-raising effort. Subscribe (top of this page) to this blog for routine blow-by-blow life and ministry updates.


(Proverbs 16:9)