Thursday, October 29, 2009

Words of Wisdom

From Nick, along with Pam, Suzanne, Liz and Amira, willing slaves of Christ Jesus!

Chapter 1

To true heroes of faith, serving in YL Capernaum, our ministry is a village of comfort for our friends left out in the world’s cold. May the comfort you give our friends be yours in abundance as you labor relentlessly with lavish generosity and joy in God’s city called Capernaum.

It’s because of your faith that Jesus makes our YL Capernaum friends whole, yes; He has seen your faith. You have worked together doing whatever it takes to get our friends in front of Jesus. You have ripped holes in rooftops to make a way of access to our friends who so often see the sign posted that reads “no entrance” to wherever they go. No challenge is too big or small. As our dear brother Skeeter says, “YL Capernaum is the place where the first word our friends hear is “yes” rather than “no.” Dear sisters and brothers you are God’s yes to our friends!

Chapter 2

We thank God for you night and day. We never cease to pray for you and thank God for you. You are our joy and reason for constant worship and praise to our God and Deliverer! And this is our prayer to the Father of Mercies and God of all comfort, may He fill you with His Holy Spirit to accomplish every good work with our YL Capernaum friends. May you serve for His pleasure with gratitude and limitless joy. May you dress in the full armor of God and be wide-eyed alert to the fact that your faithfulness has aroused a ruthless, relentlessly evil enemy of God. May you overcome in God’s power for His glory. Be on your guard sisters and brothers, wear the armor. Wield ever more skillfully the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God that you may slash and kill every negative thought that opposes the will of God. Beware of his insidious attempts to use your own thinking and words against you. Rise up in Christ in the victory that is yours from Him and guaranteed to you. Be baptized daily in the Holy Spirit who is our source of wisdom, strength and fruit.

Chapter 3

Keep going back to the ABC’s of our faith. Remember, He is the vine, we are the branches and we can do nothing a part from Him. Remember He is God and you are not. Remember Jesus is the Savior and you are not. Let His Spirit flow in and through you and produce the fruit of YL Capernaum. Beware of attempting anything in ministry in your own strength, which can only result in discouragement, failure and pride.

Guard your lives! Take a lesson from our friends we serve that are often dependent on others to live. Copy their example of an open posture of receiving with gratitude. For we can help no one unless we acknowledge our dependence on our Heavenly Father and humbly receive what we need from Jesus. Ministry is not a sprint, it is a marathon. The race is not to the swift but to those who keep running. You must exercise spiritual discipline. Immerse yourself in the Word, let it shape and form you. This takes unhurried time, ceaselessly pray, pray for yourself, your team, your YL Capernaum sisters and brothers all over the world. Be patient with each other. You cannot love kids if you do not love each other. Be hospitable, kind and encouraging to one another. Practice forgiveness; always greet one another warmly with genuine love from the heart and with a holy kiss. In all this our YL Capernaum friends will be drenched in the overflow of Jesus from your lives to theirs.

Chapters 4 & 5 to come next week.....Nick

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Amazing Women

Luke 8:1-3
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
Today I want to celebrate the amazing women God has called to YL Capernaum. If you are a brother reading this, please celebrate our sisters with me. If you are a sister, allow yourself to be celebrated. Over the course of my life, God has blessed me with amazing women.
There was Jane Thomsen, my spiritual mother, who tolerated, loved and sometimes disciplined a loud, obnoxious 16 year old with way too much energy (me). A number of times she had to make me sit next to her in Campaigners, but she was so patient and mothering and saw something in me. And then there was my Campaigner group, which comprised of Mary, Linda, Donna, Krista, Cindy, Marti, Cheryl, Brenda, Laurie, Helen, Becki and me! The 12 disciples comprised of 11 senior high school girls and one junior boy. When I became a Christian they watched out for me like a little brother. They made me memorize Scripture, came to my games and prayed for me.
It was a woman named Mary Ann who believed in me and empowered me to begin YL Capernaum. I talk to her regularly to this day and every time I call her I can hardly keep from crying. On every call she says, “Nicky, I am so proud of you.” It was a woman who gave me my first chance to speak at a camp for assignment. Dawn Finch! She believed in me and let me use the gift God has given me. It’s the only time I’ve been asked to do so and it was one of the great months of my life.

During three different decades of my life (20’s-40’s) God brought of women in each decade who have profoundly influenced and shaped my life more than anyone else. They have all been angels, mentors and nurturers to me that have loved, believed, challenged, confronted and defended me like a mother lioness. In the recent past I had a few years of the greatest joy in Christian community, I have ever known. This was when my teammates locally were Lydia, Shelley, Donna, Debbie & Otila. My admiration to this day for these women, who love Jesus like few I’ve ever known, has forever changed me. These are amazing, godly, prayer warrior women.

As YL Capernaum has grown, God has placed me with even more women who are so gifted and talented that it leaves me speechless. Right now I get to work closely with Pam Harmon, Suzanne Williams, Jen Exsted, Liz Stiger and Amira Corby in leadership of YL Capernaum. They are gifted, creative, talented, competent and committed. We are moving forward around the world through their godly leadership. Yes, YL Capernaum is alive with Esthers, Deborahs, Mary Magdalenes and Priscillas.

Last and most is the woman of God has used the most to influence me, shape me and teach me, my lovely wife Sue. I have witnessed the hand of God through her life and the voice of the Holy Spirit so intimately. There is not a positive thing I’ve done or a success I’ve had that she is not an intricate part of as well as my chief source of strength and encouragement. For me she is the 1st Lady of YL Capernaum.

So there you have it. Sisters, keep doing what you are doing, keep leading us. Brothers, let us continue to be our sisters’ biggest cheerleaders and support. Together we form the family of God in all its diversity and beauty. We need one another.

Thankful for all of God’s women, my sisters


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jakin and Boaz

Dear Capernaum Friends!

I read today in 2 Chronicles 3:17 of the two pillars Solomon erected for the Temple. They must have been magnificent. I was struck and amused that he named the pillars. I do not name any of the architectural pieces in my house, although lately I have been calling the doorknob on our backdoor “stupid” because it doesn’t open easily. Solomon was a bit more mature than me. He named the pillars Jakin, which means, “He establishes,” and Boaz, which means, “In His is strength.” Wow! Pillars are central to a building, they hold up a building. Paul called Peter and James “Pillars of the church.” Pillars are not foundational but they come close. Solomon was not making an architectural statement, he was using architecture to make a life and ministry statement. The statement was: He establishes and in Him is strength.

He Establishes
What a pillar to build my life and ministry on. It doesn’t say, “Nick establishes,” rather “God establishes.” Is this not great news? You and I are not responsible to establish YL Capernaum. This is God’s business. It is God’s business to establish leaders, donors, kids and a ministry plan. You and I do not make good pillars, unless one of our names is “God establishes.” The pressure is off, God is God and I don’t have to be. I have to repeat this countless times a day when I all too often start taking responsibility for YL Capernaum to be healthy and grow. I know when I feel the stress in my body and spirit I’ve turned “He establishes” into “Nick establishes.” Save me and save us from that lie.

In Him is strength
This pillar reminds me that as God established I am involved. Ministry is a marathon not a sprint. We become weary unless we run the race in Him who is our strength. If we do not run with Him we will run in vain and probably drop out due to exhaustion and discouragement. I have been reminded more times over the past 10 years that the enemy is out to kill, steal and destroy us. In my own strength I am nothing but a casualty waiting to happen.
But, this is the good news; I can live my life and my ministry, “In Him who is strength.” Praise God! Again I will say, it is not about me, it is about Jesus. “I can do all things through Him that gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) “Faithful is He who calls you and He will bring it to pass.” (I Thessalonians 5:24) “Since we have this ministry, by God’s mercy, we do not lose heart.” (2 Corinthians 4:1)
Isn’t Jesus‘ example amazing, because He fully lived His life on the twin pillars. His Father established Him and was His strength. How is it that Jesus lived this way and I continually seek to live by the false pillars that cannot hold up my life? These false pillars are: I establish and in me is strength.

Sisters and brothers, I am going to have my 15-year-old son Zack, who is an amazing artist, paint 2 pillars to put up in my office. Pillars named “Jakin” and “Boaz” to remind me that He establishes YL Capernaum and in Him is my strength to live out this glorious call.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Success by numbers?

…for wrath came upon Israel because of the numbering (census) – I Chronicles 27:24

God has not called us to be successful but faithful. – Mother Teresa

David took a look around in his midstream success and wanted to measure it, and judgment came because of it. This is not a comfortable verse or highlight in David’s ministry career. God did not want him to do this but he did anyway. I think God wanted David to keep doing his will faithfully and leave the numbers, fruit and success with Him.

I can really relate to this. Before I started YL Capernaum I competed with others about numbers. How many did you have at club last night? I was always hoping my club had more. Consequently if my numbers were not up, I felt even lower. It was a source of pride and idolatry that affected my self-esteem. And then came YL Capernaum. This was God’s answer to my obsession with results and numbers. I was entering a world of the small, the weak, the insignificant and the broken. This is a world where numbers would never be huge. And this was doubly true because all our kids were in wheelchairs. Numbers would be determined by transportation. So our maximum number for club would be 15. On top of that, it would be way more labor intensive along with a need for way more leaders in ratio to kids. Not only that, but my club talks didn’t seem to work as they did with typical kids. Early on, I realized I couldn’t even be sure of what conversion is.

In beginning YL Capernaum, God smashed to pieces my need to see results or measure success by large numbers. Early on I read from Zechariah, “do not despise small beginnings.” It made me realize how God moved from His place of significance to the insignificance of wrapping Himself in human flesh. YL Capernaum revealed Jesus to me in a new way.

So friends, I want to say to you, fix your eyes on Jesus and not your numbers and fruit. God has called you to be faithful not successful. The Holy Spirit is in the fruit producing business while like Apollos and Paul, we only plant and water. You are God’s chosen loved one which is measured by God’s grace and not your numbers or fruit.

For the least by one of the least