Friday, April 29, 2005

School Mistakes Huge Burrito for a Weapon

I have heard people tell me that Mexican Food could be lethal under the right circumstances...but I haven't heard of this before. The headline for a story reported on Yahoo says, School Mistakes Huge Burrito for a Weapon!

Read the story here. Link.

Signs of the End Times

I have heard several times over the last two weeks that Pope Benedict XVI will be the next to the last Pope. Based upon several people's interpretation of the fulfillment of prophecy Christ will be returning after the next Pope.

Yahoo has an interesting news clip on the current Pope and prophecy. It is located here. Link.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Tentative Schedule for Christ on the Quad- 6 May

Here's the tentative Schedule for Christ on the Quad at McKendree College on May 6. Standby for changes. Please be in prayer for all the students participating and those who will hear the gospel presented.

11:30 Noah Oldham

12:00 PINE

12:40 Phil Nelson

1:00 Mike Cheeseman with worship sketching by Cat Hamrick

1:30 Randy Rains

1:45 Andy Rains with worship painting by Laura Cochrane

2:30 Lyndsy Lafenhagen

2:45 Chapel Band

3:15 Gwen Stokes Testimony

3:30 Nick and Jonesy

4:30 Andy Rains

Most Freshmen Say Religion Guides Them

The Chronicle of Higher Education published a new study this week that says most college freshmen say religion guided them. You can find the article here. Link.

The first paragraph highlights a dichotomy in the lives of today's college students. The Chronicle states,

Most college freshmen believe in God, but fewer than half follow religious teachings in their daily lives. A majority of first-year students (69 percent) say their beliefs provide guidance, but many (48 percent) describe themselves as "doubting," "seeking," or "conflicted."

Seems like college freshmen are caught in the same struggle that society in general is caught in today. There is a deep felt understanding within our souls that God exists, but no deep felt desire to commit to following God's commands and desires for our life. There is feeling without commitment. Sad.

Paul says in Romans 1:18-23,

18 For God's wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, 19 since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. 20 From the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. 21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.

We all feel the presence of God, but have to conscouisly make the decision to follow Him.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Street Witnessing

My McKendree College students have been taking a weekly trip to St Louis to do street witnessing. A month or so ago four of them went to downtown St Louis for the NCAA Basketball Final Four celebration and witnessed to as many people as would listen to them.

Two weeks ago twelve of them went to the University City Loop (the most eclectic part of St Louis, right next to Washington University). They experienced spiritual warfare like they never had before. Although Satan was battling they made several contacts and presented the gospel to many people.

Last Friday eight of them went to the St Louis Zoo and did street witnessing there. The atmosphere was a little less hostile, but not too many people are interested. They have been a little discouraged, but are still motivated to keep on hitting the streets.

We estimate that they have presented the gospel to over 200 people in the last month. My students want to do more than just talk with people though. They want the people they talk to to walk away with something physical that they can look at a day or two later when the Holy Spirit is knocking on the hearts of those people the Gospel was presented to. So, we are looking at putting together small packages including New Testaments, tracts, and candy for the people to walk away with.

Our next project is called Christ on the McKendree Quad. My students are playing music and presenting the gospel for aobut 4 hours on May 5 at the McKendree College Quad. I am really looking forward to the Christ on the McKendree Quad. Although McKendree was founded as a Christian college it is pretty spiritually dead right now. Hopefully we will set the campus on its ear!

It is so incredible for God to give me the opportunity to work with these students. I have never met a group of college students so mature in their walk with the Lord and bold in the faith. The Lord has great plans for this group, both individually and collectively.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Missional Living

Last night at our Bible Study we talked a little about living a Missional Life. Darryl Dash sums up living a missional life very well in this post. Link.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ivy Jungle Campus Ministry Update

Here's the latest Ivy Jungle Campus Ministry Update. Link.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Twelve Steps to Raising a Juveline Delinquent

Scott Williams has a great post on Twelve Steps to Raising a Juveline Delinquent. It hits close to home as my son is 13 and my daughter is 10.

Twelve Steps to Raising a Juvenile Delinquent:

1. Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.
2. When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he's cute.
3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is twenty-one and then let "him decide for himself."
4. Avoid the use of "wrong." He may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later, when he is arrested, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.
5. Pick up everything he leaves lying around. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced throwing all responsibility on others.
6. Take his side against neighbors, teachers, and policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child. That will be good training for someday when you take his side against the police.
7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of your children. In this way they won't be so shocked when the home is broken up later.
8. Give the child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own.
9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that his every sensual desire is gratified.
10. Let him read any printed material, and listen to any music he can get his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feast on garbage.
11. When he gets into real trouble, apologize to yourself by saying, "I could never do anything with him.
12. "Prepare for a life of grief. You will likely have it.--Taken from a pamphlet entitled, "Twelve Rules for Raising Delinquent Children" distributed by the Houston Police Department.

The problem is that most of the TV my kids watch (The Disney Chanel) pushes this type of treatment. Every one of the sitcoms pretty much tell the story: Leave your kids alone, they will be OK, and besides they know more than you do anyhow!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Can You Show Me God?

Thanks goes to Sudarsun for writing this on his blog. It is inspiring to read and hear his refreshing view on life.

The Question:

Show me God for once, and I will believe in him right now. Can you?

Upon seeing that his atheistic arguments were doing little to shake my newfound faith, a close friend of mine once challenged me with the above question, much like any atheist would challenge a believer. My answer then was a circumlocutory "No", mixed with a suggestion to see God through experiences. Given another chance today, I would still answer him in "No", but with a rather different approach.

(Today at my study table, all of a sudden, I was reminded of that question. I contemplated for a while and then... a spark of light and boom. Thank God for his revelations. This is the second of that sort.)

"Can you show me God?"

My answer: Eyes aren't the only thing God has given us. He has given us ears to hear the wind blow so we can know that there is air, although we don't see the air with our naked eyes. He has given us nose with a sensation of smell so we, even when blindfolded, can distinguish a mango from an apple. He has given us the skin that tells us whether we are standing outside in scorching heat or freezing cold. You don't see the air, but you know it is there. You don't see the smell of a mango, you smell its smell. You can't see the feeling of heat or cold, you just feel it. Therefore, one must embrace the fact that his vision has limitations. If something is too dark, you can not see; at night, turn off the lights of your room and try walking around in the darkness. If something is too bright, you can not see; stare at the Sun for a couple of minutes and try looking around. If something is too far away, you can not see; can you show me the St. Louis Arch from McKendree? If something is too near, you can not see; can you see the tip of your index finger when it almost touches your forehead right between the eyes? Our vision has limitations. We can not see everything with our ordinary eyes. We can not see God.

As seen in above examples, our eyes can not judge the extremeties- too dark and too bright, too far and too near etc. Now understand this, God and mankind stand at extremeties. He is Holy, we are sinful; He is perfect, we are imperfect. Therefore, God and mankind stand at opposite extremes separated by sin.

Isaiah 59:1-2 says: "Surely the arms of the Lord are not too short to save nor His ears too dull to hear. But our iniquities have separated you from God. Your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear." Note the words here: "hidden His face". That's why we do not see God. Because our sins hide His face. Therefore, let's not seek God through our ordinary eyes. Let's seek Him instead with a repentant heart. Let's open our heart to receive Him, to experience Him. Let's employ our ears and listen to His voice. Amen.

Sudarsun is a McKendree College student from Nepal and was raised a Hindu. He came to know the Lord last fall and has grown incredibly since then. I enjoy his view on Christianity as one who has come from a completely different background. His viewpoint continues to inspire me to thinking about the ruts that being raised in a "Christian" nation allow you to fall in to. God bless you Sudarsun and thank you for the insight.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Opening Day Ritual

Well, yesterday was a great sports day. The fighting Illini didn't fare well against North Carolina in the college basketball national championship here in St Louis, but it was a great game and Monday was one of my favorite sports days. It was opening day for Major League Baseball. I know there was a game on Sunday between the Yankees and the Red Sox, but yesterday was the first day that most of the teams were playing. The Cardinals weren't one of them, they open today. I have a little ritual I do on most opening days. It goes like this:

Watch Field of Dreams and cry like a baby.

I don't know why Field of Dreams affects me this way. I am normally not a very emotional person, but that movie just rips me up. For several reasons I still think it is one of the finest movies ever made:

It chronicles the life of someone who hears a voice, knows his calling and is willing to suffer the consequensces for acting irrationally to follow his calling (I get convicted for not being in the full-time ministry every time I see the film). So needless to say I am in a very convicted mood this morning.

It is a good clean film with a great plot and characters

It has 3 of my favorite subjects embedded in it: baseball, farming, and an old Volkswagen Bus

I played baseball for Crescenta Valley High School and we played against Kevin Costner and Aviation High School almost every Saturday morning in Fall Baseball. It was a great rivalry. When he bacame an actor he moved into our neighborhood about a mile away from our house and I saw him in the local grocery store several times before I joined the Air Force and moved away. I'm still a big fan, although he has made some bad movies lately.

My kids actually enjoy the film also.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

5Q4 Me From Biscotti

Thanks to Erin of the Biscotti Brain blog for passing these questions on to me. I know it was a lot of hard work for her to do all this research. She told me that I must give a "music request"... what Erin should listen to while reading my answers, and why. So Erin, you should go plug in the CD player or the MP3 player and turn on some Third Day. They are my favorite group because I want to live a life of praise and worship, not just do it a couple of days per week. And Third Day is what I am listening to as I type this up.

1. Is flying a C-5 Galaxy as cool as it sounds? Can you describe the experience for those who've never been "behind the stick"?

Well, first off let me say that I'm not a Pilot, but a Navigator. I wasn't the one pushing and pulling on the yoke (similar to a car's steering wheel). But, I do have my pilot's license and used to fly a lot privately. The pilots tell me that the C-5 flies like a small Cessna airplane. There are so many flight computers on board that augment what the pilots do that the flying part isn't all that difficult. The C-5 is the world's largest aircraft and the hardest part was just keeping track of all the aircrew members. Navigators were used to fly Special Operations and airdrop missions, which included the largest amount of aircrew members. A normal C-5 aircrew could be as small as about 7 people. I went on a long trip to Australia that was so popular that we had 31 aircrew members. Imagine how much time it takes for each one of them to check in and respond to checklists before we start engines, taxi, and takeoff. It could be pretty embarrassing if you left one of them behind!

Navigating the C-5 and the C-130 was a lot of fun. On the C-130 we had limited navigation equipment and believe it or not up until about 1993 we still used the sextant, sun, and stars as our primary means of navigation when crossing the Pacific or Atlantic. The primary method of figuring out where you were when we were flying low level (300 feet) and airdrop was by looking our the window and comparing what you saw with what a map of the area looked like. They were good and detailed maps, but it took a lot of skill to navigate by map reading especially at night.

The C-5 was a much more technologically advanced aircraft and we didn't use the sextant in the C-5. It was much more comfortable to fly. My longest flight was a 19 and a half hour flight from North Carolina to Guam. We got off the aircraft and kissed the ground after that flight!

2. You've said "I just remember growing up loving Jesus from day one". How has that helped you in ministry to college students (and particularly cross-cultural students)? Has it posed any challenges?

I think it helps me minister cross culturally (I consider all collegiate ministry to be cross cultural ministry when you are my age) by understanding that not everyone comes to know Jesus the same way. McKendree is a unique college in that it is a Methodist school without much evangelistic push. They don't push religion on the students. I know lots of students that have graduated from McKendree without even knowing it was a church related school. In one sense that is tragic; in the sense that McKendree is missing some incredible opportunities. In another sense it is wonderful; in the sense that our ministry has great opportunities to proclaim the gospel to those who have never heard it before. Praise God that Sudarsun came to McKendree as a Hindu. If McKendree has pushed religion more openly maybe he would have gone to school somewhere else. He is now an incredible brother in the Lord.

So we get a great mixture of students that come to college with a Christian mindset and another group that have never heard of salvation before. Many of the college students I minister to grew up in the church and have known Jesus from a young age. On those students I concentrate my time on encouraging them to reach out and share their faith with others who don't know the Lord. We have had several students come to know the Lord this semester, and on them I am concentrating on laying a basic foundation of discipleship in learning the basics.

I guess I don't buy into the "You're not saved if you haven't experienced a life changing transformation when you gave your life to the Lord" quote so many Christians use. I don't ever remember not living for Jesus, but I also don't remember my conversion experience. I have loved the Lord from day 1 and don't discount my experience because I don't have a definitive conversion date. I believe that there are a few of us out there (one of my old Pastors, Chuck Smith from Calvary Chapel included) who have grown up "knowing the Lord" and feel that we have walked with Him from the beginning. I don't mean to sound egotistical about my walk with the Lord in any way because it hasn't always been deep, and I have rededicated my life several times, but I feel I have always been in the faith.

3. You obviously have the gift of teaching... they don't let just anyone teach others to fly zillion dollar aircraft! Not all teachers have the ability to step back and leave room for peers to teach each other. You've said that watching your students minister to each other has had a deep impact on you. Can you describe that impact?

My biggest reward in ministering to college students is to watch them grow through the use of their spiritual gifts. I believe I do have the gift of teaching, and I am comfortable using my spiritual gifts, but that is not my ministry is right now. My ministry is to proclaim the gospel to the unchurched and to develop today's students into tomorrow's Christian leaders. I believe both of these goals are best done through student to student ministry. A couple of friends tell me "what kind of a ministry is it where you aren't out front teaching most of the time", and I respond that being up front isn't what my job is right now. I teach a couple of times per semester, in fact I taught on Communion last week, but I think the students listen more intently and internalize the teaching more deeply if it is taught by one of their own. When I see the students ministering to each other I get the same feeling I got when my son first started to walk. They are growing up and becoming adult Christians before my eyes. I believe the college years are the most formative years of a persons life. Who you will marry, what you will do with yourself the rest of your life, your idea of who you are in the workforce, whether or not you will continue to serve the Lord are all decisions people normally make in their collegiate years. I feel priveleged to be a part of that process in the lives of these students.

4. You seem to have the ability to recognize areas of your life you'd like to explore, develop goals, plan to achieve those goals, and follow through. What are you currently recognizing as a need or area of your like you'd like to explore?

I am really trying to deal with the whole concept of God calling me to be a church planter. I am scared to death to act out on it. There are problems with my family not being best situated to do this, financial matters, logistics issues, time management problems, and ministry priorities. But the biggest issue is just having enough faith in God's calling to step out and do it. I want to, but it is always easier to talk about when it is months down the line. It is a little more difficult when you get into the weeds of doing it. I lay awake at night because it scares me, but I know it is what the Lord wants me to do, and it scares me even more to think about not doing it.

5. From you bio, I count at least 9 times in your life you've moved. What have you learned about Community and how it can be cultivated?

Great question! I have learned a lot about community over the last couple of years. My last move was on the 4th of July 2000 when the Air Force took me away from my family and moved me to SongTan, South Korea for a year. It was very difficult to be away from my family for the year. But, I did find that in Korea the brothers and sisters in Christ were so much more tightly knit than anything I had ever experienced at home. As hard as Korea was on my family I'll have to say that I grew more in my walk with the Lord during that year than at any other time in my life. When you are all away from home and have a common task that unites you it is hard to believe how close you can grow. I spent almost all my free time with Koreans rather than American GIs because I wanted to learn all I could about Korean culture. I attended a church that was half Korean and half American and traveled almost every weekend with my Korean friends. I still count two of my Korean sisters two of my best friends in the world. No matter where we are and no matter how different our backgrounds are we can be unified in Christ and that is the ultimate community.

I didn't think I would follow in Erin's footsteps because doing the research this 5Q4 trail requires is such hard work, but I enjoyed it and think I will do it afterall. So, if you have a blog and would like for me to pass on 5 Questions for you to answer please leave comments and I will pass the stick on to the first 5 who ask.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The 2005 Final Four

I am so excited! I got a phone call late last night from four of my McKendree College students. The phone call went something like this,

"Hey Rick, can you guess where we are?"

"I'll bet you are at the Spring Conference." (The Illinois Baptist State Conference is this weekend)

"Nope, we're on the Metro coming back from downtown St Louis. We were at the Final Four celebration talking to people on the streets about Jesus."

"Praise God!"

The conversation went on for a few more minutes, but needless to say I was impressed. My students are so bold in their faith and willing to talk to anyone about Jesus. My memories of the 2005 Final Four will be those four students in the finals of life doing something that will last for eternity. I am truly honored and awestruck to work with such dynamic young Christians.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Emergent Church in St Louis

Jordon Cooper has a super post on the Emergent Church movement in St Louis. Living in the St Louis area I feel as though we are on the cusp of an incredible awakening going on. New churches are springing to life in so many locations. It is very refreshing to live through it.

Here's Jordon's article. Link.