A friend of ours came to us for help recently. He was really struggling with circumstances and loneliness. He said, “I feel like I’m flying a plane and flying in circles because I just need a co-pilot.” He felt like there was a hole in his life that only a wife could fill and he was confused why God would allow him to struggle so much when he had worked so hard to live rightly. I couldn’t help but think of the words of so many Psalms that wonder why the wicked prosper while the righteous suffer. There was something else going on though as well. When we “play by the rules,” we can start to think God owes us something. I still remember the words of Cru president, Steve Douglass, during our New Staff Training 12 years ago: “What we deserve is Hell. Anything else is sheer grace.” We explained that God doesn’t promise an easy life, but promises to be with us during the hard times.
Then, we took our friend through the “Satisfied!” booklet which walks through 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 and 3:1-2 along with other passages to explain the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives. He is our true source of satisfaction, and my friend realized that trying to fill that need with anything or anyone else would only end up in more hurt. He asked the Lord to take the throne of his life and fill him with the Holy Spirit. He came back to the airplane analogy and said, “I shouldn’t be in the pilot seat. God’s the pilot and I’m a passenger.” As he is filled to overflowing by God, I believe he will have more to give to a wife someday as well.
Over Christmas break, about nine thousand students gathered in hotel conference rooms at 9 locations around the country for an intense week of spiritual growth and action. Here’s how one student, Shalom, was impacted:
“[Before the conference,] I asked myself: at what point do I stop being a Chinese immigrant and start labeling myself as American? As years went on, I started to suppress my Chinese cultural identity and began to embrace the full American culture.
Now, after this conference, I no longer see myself torn between two distinctly different cultures but as a bridge to reach out to the Chinese/international communities around my school. I realized I was gifted the knowledge and understanding of multiple languages and cultures by God to be a missionary to my fellow classmates at UCI!”
The event was an incredible spiritual accelerator for Shalom and the other 1,200 students attending in LA. They also had opportunities to share the gospel during the Day of Outreach. Stepping out in faith, many for the first time, in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results up to God… He allowed them to have 702 spiritual conversations with people around the city and 50 people prayed to ask Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior. Your prayers and support are helping students like Shalom reach their classmates with the eternity-changing love of Jesus!
In the only prayer request Jesus commands of us, He says, “ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38). The word “send” is ekballō which is closer to “cast out.” It makes me think of big bouncers coming to throw us out of our comfort zones.
Near the end of February, over 60,000 of God’s children will gather in a soccer stadium for 12 hours here in Orlando to an event called The SEND. Francis Chan, Lou Engel, YWAM, Hillsong and many others are asking God to use them to “cast out” these believers into high schools, colleges, neighborhoods and nations of the world with the love of Christ.
It sounds incredible! We can’t wait to be a part of it and we hope you join us, but Karen and I have already gotten to have an incredible part in this! We met with one of the folks running the event and introduced him to the Cru leaders overseeing ministry in FL. Because of that, 370 volunteers from the Send will stay for a month afterward, walking on 75 campuses and launching new Cru movements that we will then teach local churches how to run! Praise God for the unity of His Church!
I (Jeff) can swing back and forth between striving “for God” on one side and running from work entirely on the other. I act like I’m really running with God, but I’m doing it under my own power instead of His, and doing what I think should be done instead of letting God take the lead. When that happens I may get a lot done, but who knows if it is even what the Lord wants to accomplish. I certainly stay busy, but it is only a matter of time before I feel burnt out.
When burnout sets in, I stop wanting work for Him at all. I crave “me time” and would rather be distracted by entertainment, especially the kind that doesn’t require much energy.
This isn’t the abundant life Jesus promised in John 10:10, but it isn’t because God is holding out on me. I’m the one spending so much energy without plugging into the source. Rather than focusing so hard on results, I need to abide in (make my home with) Christ.
The model to the right came from a pastor and ministry partner who has learned this first-hand. Our only part in the cycle is seeking and responding to intimacy with God. I know that means spending time in God’s word, but one of the biggest dangers there for me is familiarity. Another friend encouraged me there, saying that God speaks to us through His living word even in passages that don’t directly relate to what you’re going through. I’m sitting at His feet more, praying deeper, and waiting on the Lord. His plan is better than mine, and a whole lot more livable!
Thanks for praying! You can see the latest in what God has been doing in our family and ministry by clicking here or on the image below. In the meantime, please pray:
- For the 60,000 believers being SENT for Jesus this month
- For students returning to campus after Winter Conferences all over the US to build gospel momentum, mature believers, and strong community
- Our family’s unity and strength
There I am standing in a sea of what I’m told were 80,000 people attending the Together 2018 conference at the Texas Motor Speedway in October. What an incredible opportunity to hear from over 40 bands and speakers like Francis Chan, Hillsong and Priscilla Shirer! So why on earth would I stay out of ear-shot most of the time, cooped up in some garage? The answer is beautiful!
While many conferences like these suffer from people going back to “normal life” afterward and losing much of what God did in their hearts, we were able to offer another option. Teaming up with InterVarsity, Chi Alpha, YWAM and several other ministries, we worked side-by-side to create a journey for students to walk through. Here they could explore the next steps God put on their hearts to reach their college, high school and town for Christ. Watch this time-lapse video of people praying over their communities on a giant world map.
A highlight for me was meeting Joe and Kayden, both high school students. After mapping out who in their lives needs to hear the gospel, how to share it, and who could help them, it was my turn to help them plan their next steps. They texted their youth pastor to hold them accountable to the goals they set. They’re committed to reading the Bible each night, praying more consistently through the Echo Prayer App, asking non-Christian friends the Sometime Question and making friends with Christian students at their future college. What goals will you make?