Monday, June 21, 2010

What does it profit a man?

What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? Luke 9:25

“Martha, Martha”, the Lord answered, “You are upset about many things but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the best part and it will no be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42

Last week was a glorious week. Pam was here in San Jose with Amira and I. It is a rare experience when we get to spend time together in the same place, as friends and as a team. So we drove to Santa Cruz and had breakfast in my favorite place, Aldo’s. Aldo’s has an outdoor deck right on the ocean overlooking a lighthouse. We sat together basking in the sea air and the warmth of each other’s friendship. How I love and cherish my sisters.

We began a conversation that each of you reading this will understand. Where is the line of continued growth and our own limitations? This is a difficult question. We all love the Lord and His work. We love kids and we long for the Gospel to reach every kid with a disability in the world. It’s a grand and glorious vision. The problem comes when I think I have to pull this off and make this my work instead of the Lord’s work. The result can be catastrophic: weariness, being overwhelmed, frustration, anger, health, loss of quality in family and friends.

I believe Luke 9:25 is about more than being wrongly centered on material greed. I believe it can also read like this: What does it profit a person if they build the greatest and most expansive ministry, but lose their own soul. Is it possible to lose your own soul in ministry? The frightening and sobering answer is yes!

How do you do that?
• Believe that you are God and it is all up to you
• Say “yes” to everything
• Say “yes” without consulting the Holy Spirit
• Say “yes” without council from your community
• Live for an audience of multiple people, rather an audience of one
• Stack up days and days without a break
• Believe if you don’t do it then it won’t get done or done well
• Don’t exercise
• Eat poorly
• Believe you have no human limitations
• Stuff feelings rather than confessing to your friends
• Your “to-do” list is longer than your prayer list
• You talk way more to kids about God than to God about kids
• Believe you are a failure if it all doesn’t get done or the numbers aren’t big enough

Dearest friends, the YL Capernaum work is God’s. As Mother Teresa said, “We are just pencils in His hands. He uses us to write HIS story.” It takes discipline to remain a pencil and refuse seeking to become the author!

Living this and praying this with you


Thursday, May 13, 2010

When There Is No Empty Day

How’s your schedule? Is it like mine? Non-stop demands, limitless emails, phone calls, tasks, family to pay attention to, little league games, school concerts, church, friends to care for and other problems or illnesses that affect you. Is it even possible to find an empty day?

I have been wrestling with this lately. Most of the things are good, but still there is a drain when you have to be “constantly on” so to speak. I am faithful to my time with the Lord, which is my sanity, but once I leave that time, it feels like a flood breaks and drowns me. I have found out three things that I must commit to do:

1) Practice mini Sabbaths throughout the day. A moment here, a moment there. I stop; I close the office door or take a 5-minute walk and breath in the Lord’s presence.
2) A monthly day of solitude. All technology off for the day, the challenge at the heart of this is: Do I believe I am God? Or do I believe God is God. Do I believe that I run my ministry or that God runs my ministry? I suspect we often believe we are God.
3) Sit with friends weekly. Share and pour out our hearts. Confess our anxieties and pray together and for one another.

I know we probably know these things. That is never the problem. The question is do we practice these things? I pray for you and myself this Psalm:

My heart is not proud O Lord. My eyes are not haughty. I do not concern
myself with great matters or things too difficult for me. But I have
stilled and quieted my soul like a content child at its mother’s
breast, like a contented child is my soul within me. O Israel!
O Capernaum! Put your hope in the Lord both now and forever more.
Psalm 131

Seeking the Lord as my contentment,


Friday, May 7, 2010

Proclaim Jesus!

The apostles left the Sanhedrin rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day in the temple courts and from house to house they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the Good News that Jesus is the Christ! (Acts 5:41-42)

I am studying the Book of Acts. It is amazing! Pentecost comes and Peter gives a club talk and all of a sudden they have a Campaigner group of 3000. After this, the first ministry act post Pentecost was the healing of a man with a disability at the Gate Beautiful near the Temple. Isn’t this just like God? A person with a disability daily ignored and passed by and seen as a wretch, has basically a sign over him saying “Beautiful.” On this day, Peter and John do not pass him by, but instead heal him in Jesus’ name.

Now things really start to get out of control. Peter and John get in trouble for preaching Jesus while 2000 more are added to their number. The disciples are flogged and get this! They go away rejoicing that they could suffer for the sake of the Name. They report all this to their community. They don’t get into a planning session about how they are going to care for 5000 new believers. Instead they pray for more boldness to speak the Name. They pray for more signs and wonders from the Holy Spirit. They pray for a greater telling of the Good News and more fruit. Then their meeting place is shook and the Holy Spirit is poured out again. Wow!

Does this blow your mind like it does mine? Their strategy seems to be simple and unspoken amongst them: Proclaim Jesus! Fellowship with each other daily and pray for more boldness, signs and wonders. And wrapped up in all this is an incredible sensitivity to the Holy Spirit to let the Spirit blow and flow as He wills. They stay out of the way. They seek to fall into this wild raging river of the Holy Spirit. They are relaxed with being out of control and not knowing what is going to happen next.

There is also a beautiful sense of unselfconsciousness. They have truly died to self and are alive to God and each other. Isn’t it true when we are swept up into God’s business we have little time to be annoyed by one another? What does this all mean? I am not fully sure but I am going to concentrate on waiting on the Holy Spirit and then in His fire and wind around my life doing three things:

1) Proclaim Jesus to Kids’ boldly
2) Fellowship daily with fellow staff
3) Pray for signs and wonders

Holy Spirit fall on all of us in YL Capernaum. Stretch out your hand with signs, wonders, healings and miracles. Holy Spirit set YL Capernaum ablaze as a wild fire throughout Young Life and beyond. O Lord, add thousands of kids with disabilities to our number. Grant us boldness to proclaim your Name. Let our fellowship be sweet and deep. Immerse us in prayer and we rejoice in all this when we suffer for your Name. We are yours. Let us be resilient! Let us glorify you and rejoice that we bear your Name – Christ-ones!

Out of Control,


Thursday, April 29, 2010

What If...

What if…Anxiety

What if the money doesn’t come in?
What if I don’t know what I am doing?
What if I can’t recruit enough leaders?
What if I fail?
What if people are critical of me?
What if I don’t have what it takes?
What if my health doesn’t get better?
What if I give a lousy club talk?
What if I never change that defective area in my life?

What if….Peace

What if God provides me with the money beyond my needs? – Philippians 4:19
What if God knows what He is doing and He includes me in it? – Romans 11:33-36
What if God sends more leaders than I expected? Matthew 9:38
What if I succeed? Philippians 4:13
What if, what God thinks of me is all that matters? Colossians 3:23-24
What if God has what it takes? Ephesians 3:20-21
What if God begins to heal me? Isaiah 53:5
What if the Holy Spirit speaks through my trembling and weakness? I Corinthians 2:1-5
What if God breaks through my impossibility? Luke 1:37

Even if….Faithfullness

Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him. Job 3:15
Be encouraged dear sisters and brothers. If God is for us, who can be against us!
What if God is bigger than anything we are facing?

Overcoming in Him,


Friday, April 9, 2010

Monday Morning

We gathered Monday morning at Martha and Mary’s home. All of us like children that had received gifts that we didn’t expect. We entered the sisters’ home in a holy joy we had never known. All eleven of us along with Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, Cleopas and his wife Mary, Salome, Joanna, Veronica and Mark. This created work for Martha, but I could tell she didn’t mind one bit. We fell into each other’s arms in joy, laughter and free flowing tears.

Mary, Martha’s sister, beautiful Mary washed our feet as we came in. We objected but Mary softly said, “It is what the Master would have done.” We turned silent for a moment, drinking in the memory of a night that was so filled with fear and tension. Jesus washed our feet that night and now Mary does, but the room is filled with quiet Shalom and joy rather than foreboding.

Ecstatic conversation resumed and I, the disciple whom Jesus loved, received my foot washing last. When finished I said, “Mary, please dear one, let me wash your feet.” She flashed her beautiful shy smile and slightly lifting up her skirt, allowed me to wash her feet. As the water lapped over her feet and my hands caressed her beautiful feet, I began to cry remembering Jesus doing this for me. A memory that I know I will never forget. Then I began to laugh and looked up at Mary who looked at me quizzically and she began to laugh. Finally, she said, “What in the world are you laughing at, youngest one? Are my feet that funny?”

I finally said, “How our Master has turned the world upside down. You take the servant’s role and wash our feet, and I, a man, wash a woman’s feet. What is next? The freeing of slaves?”

She smiled and kissed me and whispered, “I think so youngest one, yes. The slaves will become brothers and sisters, like us.” I smile back knowing we were only at the beginning of what was ahead of us. We then reclined to eat a delicious meal prepared by Martha and her servants. Martha….she can cook! Mary went up to Martha and whispered in her ear. Martha drew back with a look of shock and began to laugh loudly. Next thing we know, Martha was calling the servants to recline with us at the meal. We all looked at each other, not knowing what to do. The servants looked like they had seen a ghost.

Finally, Thomas broke the silence with a one liner that only Thomas could come up with. “Is this really that shocking? After all, our best friend is walking around after sleeping for 3 days in a grave.” An explosion of howls and laughter erupted all around the room. The servants had no idea what was going on and we experienced our first telling of the Good News. Simon the Zealot told the servants all about Jesus and that He had risen. Phillip chimed in that He is not just for some people, but He is for ALL people, including slaves. Joanna added “and women”, Bartholomew added “and children,” Mary Magdalene added, “and the sick, lame, blind and poor.”

And so there we sat on Monday morning, trying to take in all that had happened. As we continued, we wondered what it all meant. Then Jesus came through the backdoor and stood in our midst. We joyfully shouted, “Master!” Jesus smiled and looked at Martha and asked if she had anything to eat. Again we laughed until we couldn’t breathe.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Are you ready for a party?

Luke 14:16-24 (New International Version)
Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.' "But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.' "Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.' "Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.' "The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' 'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.' "Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.' "

I have always loved this parable! And even more after the Lord used it to lead me into the lives of kids with disabilities. I always loved it in the first place because it identified with those not getting the initial invitation. Growing up was an uphill battle for me, especially after all my friends passed up my permanent 5’4” status after the 8th grade. But it was uphill for serious reasons. My dad’s sudden death at 11 and a mother so needy that she could not parent me. I often felt like an orphan and second rate. So I turned towards sports and achievement in general. I pressed and pressed to succeed. It seemed 100% of the time I was the second or third option, constant rejection.

My big goal was to go on the Young Life staff. This was something I heard from God at the age of 17. When I met my new friends with disabilities at Blackford High School, I was on my third rejection from staff while others were eagerly courted; and this is why I LOVE this parable. Jesus was saying that there was a place for me at His party. I am invited.

Then I met my new friends and they translated this parable for me in greater ways. I realized that this world is full of people whose lives are too full for God and the things of God. They have it all: talents, money, possessions, status and incredible business. What they do not have is time for a party. But when I met my friends, they had very little, but what they did have was time and a heart open wide and ready to be filled. So when we invited them to the party, which was club, they came like stampeding buffalo. They were being invited to the party with all their friends and they did not come up with lame excuses, like I just bought a cow. They came and they wanted in on everything. The first time I threatened to pie a kid, instead of shying away, they all raised their hands asking to be pied. So we obliged and I didn’t want to be rude.

What does this tell us? God’s kingdom is for those who are empty, for those rejected, for those not believed in and for those at least a little bit desperate. The kingdom is for those who struggle, who doubt, who are misunderstood, for those who have lost a lot, for those not picked or an after-thought if they are. The kingdom is for those who are hoping and waiting so long that when they get an invitation they cannot wheel, walk or crawl fast enough to get there. In short, YL Capernaum is the place for kids, leaders, staff, committee and donors like this. I have learned over the years that this is the place for the most “disabled” of all, typical kids who are shattered on the inside, but look good on the outside.

I thank God everyday for leading me to the place of realizing that in all my many disabilities, that I am loved and accepted with my friends. YL Capernaum is truly a ministry WITH kids with disabilities and not a ministry TO them. Let us go to the party together.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Happy Birthday YL Capernaum

“Do not despise small beginnings.” Haggai

Happy Birthday YL Capernaum!

Today is the 24th anniversary of the very first YL Capernaum Club here in San Jose, CA. It was March 10, 1986. After 3 failed attempts, the YL Capernaum Project as we first named it, burst from a dream into a reality. Twenty-four years ago, I turned the YL Capernaum Van into the school parking lot to see 5 screaming kids in wheelchairs, trying to leap out of their chairs. Their names are: Jim, Bret, Alison, John and Lori. Lori, by the way, has been a volunteer with us for nearly 20 years. As I watched this spectacle, I thought to myself, “What are they so excited about? They haven’t even attended club.” (That is because there hadn’t been one yet) I understood so little then. I was about to buckle up for a roller coaster ride for the next 24 years.

The ride to club made me wonder if they had been drinking because they were so excited. We gathered together, 5 kids in wheelchairs, 5 Campaigner kids (Ted, Susan, Sheri, Cynthia, Teresa) & 4 adult leaders (Kelly, Valerie, Mary Ann and Me). There was more joy, laughter and anticipation in that small gathering than in any other club I had ever attended. Nothing went smoothly, everything I normally did in club had to be adjusted, including the club talk. When I began my club talk they interrupted me and wanted to talk about death, because their bus driver had just passed away. So my first club talk was about death and Jesus. Over the next 24 years, there would be 22 other times to talk about death, as various friends from club passed away.

I didn’t have any experience then, but what I did know was that these were the poor in spirit that Jesus told us would inherit the kingdom. They ate up everything that was put before them: music, skits, laughter, friendship, food, drinks and Jesus! Wow! What a day! Later I found out from their teachers that they talked about club all week long until the next club.

Lori Semas, one of the first 5 kids, came for the whole next year and then graduated. Her mom asked me, “So is she just thrown out now?” That was the beginning of Club Beyond, our post high school club. Lori went on to volunteer in that same high school club. Today on this 24th anniversary, Lori and I will do the club talk together in the same club that began 24 years ago. Now we have 30 kids instead of 5, plus staff, college and high school leaders.

What a joy to look into our friends’ eyes with Lori and let them know this all began because God did not forget them. To let them know that there is a God so madly in love with them that He sent His son Jesus who said of people with special needs “they were born this way to show the glory of God.” (John 9:3) What a joy to look back 24 years ago and see the mother club that has birthed YL Capernaum Ministries around the world. As I look back, I am in a state of worship that with God nothing is impossible. And believe me, there have been many times when YL Capernaum seemed impossible.

You are a link in a chain that is growing larger and stronger every day. I want to encourage you to press on in the power of the Holy Spirit for the long haul. There were plenty of opportunities to quit and many times I wanted to. There was a span of time where my friends wanted me to quit and even my wife wanted me to do so.
But every time God met me in a kid’s face, and my call was renewed. As Paul said,

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance, in trouble, hardships and disappointments; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and the left through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine yet regarded impostors, known yet regarded as unknown, dying and yet making many rich, having nothing, yet possessing everything. We have always spoken freely to you Corinthians (Capernaum kids) and opened our hearts wide to you.
2 Corinthians 6:3-11

I thank God that He gave me the grace to stay. I would never have seen all the miracles, wonders, signs and healings that He was going to perform. So my friends, by the grace of God endure hardships as a good solider of Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:3) because God has great things ahead for you and your ministry. I am so excited for the next 24 years!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why do we do, what we do?

Twenty-four years of YL Capernaum! Why do we do what we do? For me it still comes every moment of every day in the face of my club kid Antwon when I turned him in his bed at camp 24 years ago. I hear Jesus voice everyday, “It is me you turned. It’s me you stood by.” To this day that gives me chills and sustains me. It is only knowing that our kids are Jesus in disguise that can sustain us through deficits, disappointments, and struggles with leaders or committee, our own failures and weariness. Yes, we are sustained when we are able to look a kid in the eye and see the face of Jesus.

There is so much we have to do: GPS Stats, strategic plans, goals, meetings, training, conferences and T.D.S., to name a few. So much we are called to and charged with, but if we ever lose sight of the face of Jesus in a kid, we are irrelevant. Our mission is to pursue the Jesus who is rejected, alone and miserable. The Jesus in a wheelchair, sentenced to suffering and an early death. The Jesus that lies in a hospital bed and whose parents have abandoned Him.

It’s this Jesus we have been granted the privilege to serve, feed and care for. As we do, we enter into sharing His suffering as Paul says in Colossians. Is there a greater honor? It’s the honor that can sustain us when along with our kids we feel ignored, misunderstood or rejected. At that point we rejoice because we have this ministry by God’s mercy (2 Corinthians 4:1) to draw close to Jesus.

May you be blessed with joy this week as you see Jesus in a kids’ face.

Sharing in His sufferings,

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Breath of Life

God formed the man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The man came alive – a living soul. Genesis 2:7

Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:22

Breathing has my attention these days because I spent every night, for approximately 10 years, fighting for my life as I ceased breathing 400-500 times a night. A few weeks ago I wrote to you about my diagnosis of sleep apnea. The CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Machine) has become my friend at night. As I begin to fall asleep each night, I feel the continuous air gently forcing me to breathe. In the first week I began to see it as God’s kiss on my mouth, breathing life into me, just as He did with Adam in the Garden long ago.

The physical became spiritual. I realize how true it is that I am dependent on God for my very next breath. It is a gift, not a right. I had taken that for granted until my diagnosis. I smile as I fall asleep knowing God is giving me the loving gift of His breath. Night turns to day and I awake. As I do, I have begun to realize I am breathing differently through the day. The CPAP machine is training me to breathe right. The result is a decrease in anxiety, which I have fought for years. It turns out it is one of the symptoms of sleep apnea. Another gift is God’s grace setting me free from years of guilt and self-condemnation. During the day as in the night, I recognize every breath as the loving kiss of God.

If we don’t breathe, we die. We breathe and we live. And God provides the breath. After the resurrection, Jesus commissioned His disciples for ministry. He took a deep breath and breathed on them. That breath was the Holy Spirit. No Holy Spirit, no ministry. With the Holy Spirit, you have ministry! It is that simple.

Does your ministry ever feel like it is on life support? Do you feel you have been running so hard that you can’t catch your breath? You are out of breath. You and I need to stop and be still and let God kiss us with the gift of His breath, the Holy Spirit. Just as we can’t breathe on our own, we cannot do ministry on our own. We can make strategic plans, we can craft great clubs, and we can work hard and use our gifts and talents. We can do all of this and our ministry can still be on life support and die. Only the kiss of God bringing His breath of the Holy Spirit can give our ministries life and us.

My friendly CPAP machine is God’s nightly devotional to remind me of His breath on my physical life, my spiritual life, and my ministry. Holy Spirit, breath of God, we receive you. Kiss me lover of my soul, breathe life into my tired body. Breathe life into my marriage, my family, my friendships, my leaders, my finances, my committee, my club and my campaigners. Breathe on our kids, your kids. Yes God, breath on YL Capernaum and give it abundant fruit filled life.

Breathing with you,

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

One on One (Part II)

I had an amazing experience in club a couple of weeks ago. A former club kid Adan gave his testimony. It really took me back. Adan is one of the two kids who have influenced and impacted my life the most and that is a huge piece of what contact work is. It is “withness” as well as a witness. It is the vulnerability of Christ who chose the twelve to “be with Him” as it says in Mark 3:14. The Son of God came and allowed Himself to be influenced and ministered to. He opened His heart and allowed them to experience their companionship and comfort.

I met Adan when he was 10 and in Middle School. He is now 29. For 19 years he has been one of my best friends. He is the wildest kid I have ever met, and at first the most obnoxious. A fact I was humbled by when Jane Thomsen, my YL leader, reminded me of how often she wanted to smack me in club. God really has a sense of humor, doesn’t He?

We spent thousands of hours and experiences together over the years. We have fought, cried, laughed so hard we could not breathe, and we have encouraged one another. We have been in each other’s lives through thick and thin. I was with him at Woodleaf when the Holy Spirit gave birth to him in the kingdom of the family of God. Today he loves Jesus, and he is one of the two most passionate people I know. His speed is always at 100% and the accelerator is always pressed to the floor of his life.

We read Philippians together last week and he said that is a great letter because Paul has confidence no matter what his circumstances. We talked and prayed together to live with this type of confidence. Adan has moved from a kid who basically told me to “drop dead” in our first conversation, to a young man encouraging me to have confidence in Jesus.

As I watched Adan give a club talk, I could see the face of a young 17-year-old girl named Carmella listen to every word that Adan said. Carmella is the female equivalent of Adan when he was in high school. She is wild, broken, combative and angry, yet Adan was able to reach her.

Contact work once begun, never stops. It is an action for life. Adan is one of my best friends. We are challenging each other, praying together and anticipating God’s adventure for us in the future. Do you have an Adan? Just keep walking together.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Being a friend

One of our YL Capernaum Teammates asked about ideas for one-on-one times with our Capernaum friends. So I thought I would reflect and recount some of my own one-to-one times with kids. I have always loved times like these more than anything else, and none of it is rocket science or that unique to Capernaum. It is what we do in the normal course of being a Young Life leader.

My first six years as an YL Capernaum leader were spent with kids in wheelchairs. I loved getting our Capernaum lift equipped van and to pick kids up after school and just go out for ice cream or hot chocolate. I loved to delve into their lives and find out what they love. It didn’t matter if they were non-verbal. I loved the challenge of that! What helped was using 20 questions that they could say “yes” or “no” to. One friend named Danny communicated by looking up for “yes” and down for “no”. He would laugh like crazy when I was way off the mark about what he wanted to say. I knew that was just the reality of trying to understand him, but it was the “trying” that meant the world to him. I found that it is just as important for a friend to know me. So I would offer up slices of my life of what I liked, hoped and dreamed for. I opened up my life as a gift to my friend.

I also like to go to a friends’ home. My friend Tony, who was laid up in bed with bedsores for 2 years, would love that I went to his home to sit with him and watch superhero cartoons. We would just be together. Words are way less important than presence. One day I glanced at Tony’s wall and he had written a note by his bed. He had written, “Nick, Best Friend.” I am still overcome by how powerful my once a week visits were to him.

Where friendships really take off is when you have shared experiences, adventures big and small. Sometimes it would just be driving around town listening to music, talking, joking and laughing. Sometimes it is a movie or going to a baseball game for the first time.

Last year I took my friend Manny to San Francisco to speak at an YL National Board Meeting, it was an hour ride each way and lunch coming back. Manny has not stopped talking about it. He felt important, he wanted to hang out more often and our friendship deepened.

I love having kids into my home. Years ago a friend built a cement ramp and every time one of my friends in a wheelchair comes to visit, they comment on it. One friend named Danny could not believe that I was taking him to my house when I picked him up. When I asked why he was surprised, he told me that no one invites him to his or her house. I said, “Well buffalo breath, you are wrong. You are coming to my house today.” And we watched the Three Stooges together for 3 hours until we cried from laughing so hard.

One-on-one times are simple. It is simply my persistent effort to enter a kid’s world and find out what we share in common. It is going into his world and letting him in my world. It is sharing new experiences together. It is becoming lifelong best friends….All this writing reminds me that I need to call one of my friends!

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:14

Loving Kids,

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why so long?

Though he slay me, yet I will have hope in Him. Job 13:15

Dear YL Capernaum Friends –

I am writing very personally to you today about a major breakthrough in my life. My motivation is to encourage any of you who have/are laboring and suffering under a long-term problem or challenge in which God seems silent. I pray God uses this to speak to you in a present or future circumstance.

For 5 or 6 years I have been suffering under extreme fatigue that stepped up greatly around August 2008 and then increased this past September. As it progressed, I did everything possible. I saw my doctor and cleared off any problems. I began exercising and making sure I got lots of rest. All to no avail. I prayed fervently and had others pray for me, but no change.

In the midst of this I searched my heart for answers and inquired of the Lord, nothing. I began to feel literally that God had abandoned me. I had a lot of self-doubt. I asked myself, was I not handling stress well? Was it a natural progression of aging? Do I have something seriously wrong with me? For someone who has always been high energy this was overwhelming and agonizing. My life has been so full these past few years. I had a growing family, YL Capernaum was dramatically growing, travel was increasing, coaching little league and volunteering and leading various clubs. I would pray to God each day for the ability to rise to each occasion. I think for the most part no one could see much difference in me because I sought to keep it from interfering with what God has called me to do. But underneath it all I was deeply discouraged. I leaned on God and sought to be faithful no matter the cost. Yet I continued to live in the darkness of God’s silence.

In September I was invited to go to India with my dear friend Clif Davidson for a Young Life trip. I was so excited, but as preparation began I noticed my fatigue was deepening. In desperation I went back to my doctor, wondering how I could possibly make this trip. She examined me and everything was fine. She sat in her chair tapping her pen on her prescription pad and suddenly asked, “Do you snore?” “Yes”, I said. I’ve been told that a lot by my roommates at Young Life conferences. She told me to go to a sleep clinic. I was relieved because I have been having problems sleeping.

A wonderful doctor from Stanford named Kim Mae Yuen interviewed me for an hour. When she examined me she sighed, “Oh my goodness.” I nervously asked, “What?” She said, “You have severe sleep apnea. I don’t even need the sleep study to evaluate you, your airway is about a third of what it should be.” The sleep study showed that I ceased breathing 54 times an hour with durations of 19 seconds to a minute of no air. If I was on my back it was 78 times. This significantly raised my risk of heart attack or stroke. The doctors I saw were wonderful. They gave me a CPAP machine that assisted in my breathing while I slept. Last night I had my first full nights sleep in more than 5 years.

As I have met and sat with Jesus my heart poured out to Him. I asked Him, “Why so long?” The answer to that question came from my wonderfully encouraging friend Jen. She told me that God has enlarged your belief by relying on Him and she was right. What is amazing to me is that I was able to do all I did the past 5 or 6 years without any sleep. Through immense suffering God was faithful to sustain me and even use me. It also feels like God on His own kept me alive. I have gained a new sense of love, admiration and care for our YL Capernaum friends and all they go through physically. It makes me more compassionate and understanding. Also Sue, my wife, is my biggest hero. She has patiently travelled this road with me like no one else. She has watched me suffer, listened to my cries, prayed for, comforted and encouraged me, and so have my children.

Ultimately God has been faithful and in a moments time through 3 wonderful doctors gave me a breakthrough. It will take time but I know the Lord is healing me. I don’t know what challenge or impossible obstacle you are going through but my encouragement is:

• Stay faithful to God
• Pour your heart out to Him
• Pour your heart out to a small circle of friends, let them carry you
• Enlist others prayers
• Wait on God and believe
• Remember, He is faithful

In 2010 I believe your breakthrough is coming! I am praying for you!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Filled with God's plans and dreams

Dear YL Capernaum Friends

Happy New Year! I have looked back at the past decade with awe. At the beginning of 2000 there were 5 YL Capernaum ministries in Young Life. In the beginning of 2010 there are 125 ministries in the U.S and ten YL Capernaum Ministries in other nations. God has been awesome and faithful, God has moved.

From 1986-2000 I prayed and prayed and labored before God for a breakthrough, and then in a moments time “it” happened, out of the blue (out of God’s blue) Bill Younger pledged 1 million dollars to YL Capernaum. That began a strong Pentecost wind of God’s Spirit across our land. The 14 silent years, leading up to this gift, felt like a pregnancy. Something was happening that we could not see, the ministry was being enlarged and prepared for birth. And then in God’s sovereign time it happened. Glory to God!

So here we are in 2010 stepping into a new year. What do you believe God for? What has He put on your heart? Believe! I am here to say, don’t give up. Don’t quit. Are you willing to wait 14 years for your dream? Don’t give up on what God has placed in your heart. God is awesome, powerful and sovereign. What you have prayed for, hoped for, labored for and endured weariness for maybe answered by God in a moment’s time. 2010 might be that year for you. Possibly today might be the day. Anticipate, be faithful, do not stop praying, be expectant, you are pregnant with God’s plans and dreams. Birth will happen and you will rejoice.

I am looking at this year for God to do exceeding abundantly beyond all I can dare to ask of imagine. (Ephesians 3:20) My dream is that YL Capernaum will exist in every place that Young Life is present. I do not know how long that will take but my attitude is similar to Paul’s found in Colossians 1:28-29:

We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom
so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor,
struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.

That is what we need, His plan, His dreams, His energy powerfully working in us as we labor to bring to birth the kingdom of God amongst our friends with disabilities in every corner of the world. I am praying for this everyday! Pregnant!