Monday, February 20, 2012

Funding the Mission

Campus minister Tim Casteel hosts a fantastic blog on Leading in Ministry.  
I've benefitted from a number of his posts, especially the one titled Money To Fund the Mission.  In it Tim points out how critical finances are to the mission of moving the Gospel forward.  
During the spring of 2012, every single Cru staff member in the northeast region had to take 5 whole weeks off of campus to work on raising financial support.  The sad reality is that almost all of us are under-supported and struggling at some level.        Both our personal support accounts and our campus accounts are low. And without adequate finances to live, eat and minister staff must pull back from time on campus, meeting up with people  and spend time looking for new financial partners.   
In Tim's article, he references a Mark Driscoll video where he describes THE game changer in the history of Mars Hill (Seattle).  
He says there was " a single thing that took them from 40 people to 800. A turning point that made the difference between their church shutting down and being the global influence that it is today through the Acts29 Network and Mark Driscoll’s teaching.
It wasn’t hiring a key staff. Putting on a big outreach. Giving a great sermon. Getting a new website. Him yelling at a bunch of men (that was a different video).
It was money.
A gift from a generous couple – a $200,000 gift that was 100x greater than any gift they’d ever received."
I recommend reading Tim's article where he includes insights from both Bill Hybels and R.C. Sproul.  
He concludes: 
"As ministry leaders we spend countless hours thinking through how to reach more people with the gospel. We plan ways to raise up new leaders. Get excited about new books/ideas that could be gamechangers. Dream of new websites that will singlehandedly reach the campus with the gospel. But we rarely think of money. 
I just wonder what would change if our ministries and staff were abundantly funded. Imagine what God could do."
That's our goal!  Stephanie and I are in a place where we actually need to raise $1300 in new monthly support.  Even as we take seminary classes in Colorado this summer, we are working to raise money.  God has raised up three fantastic interns for next fall; Will Poon, Mercy Gbenjo, and Kelsey Karys.  But if we don't get adequate support, they'll be ministering on campus without us! 
We want to see the Cru ministry at Cornell truly taking the gospel to every student.  We can no longer afford to be barely making it as staff or running on financial fumes as a ministry.  
If you are reading this, and you are a financial supporter of our ministry, I want to thank You!  If you aren't, and you would like to be, please be in touch, or check out this link.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Old School Integrity

I wrote this down shortly after my dad passed away:

One characteristic that I think truly defined my dad was integrity.  I found his authentic and consistent honesty remarkable, and whenever I shared with others about my dad, I usually mentioned it.  I think most people found it refreshing, while at least a few who had a mind to cheat on their taxes found it shocking and convicting.  (My dad was a CPA)   And, I know I was certainly convicted over the years. 

One time in high school – I was probably 15 or 16 years old.  I was falling behind on some homework, slacking off really, and I needed to get caught up.  I borrowed someone else’s homework, one of my friends,  and was sitting in my room copying answers page after page.  I had the door closed, and I was making good time.  My dad came in to my room, and I must’ve flinched something serious and he knew right away something wasn’t right.  I tried to tell my dad it wasn’t a big deal, and he told me the story that my brothers and sisters and I have heard at least 20 times each.

We call it the “nail story” and it’s blessed our lives, so I’m gonna pass it on to you. 

When my dad was 8 or 9 years old, a house was being built down the road from where he lived.  One day –could’ve been a Sunday, might’ve been after hours - no one was around and he wandered over to the work site.  Looking around, he noticed there were tons of nails all over the place, in the dirt, on the ground.  He spent some good time gathering all the nails he could find and filled up a whole coffee can.  “Score” he thought as he walked home with his treasure.

But my grandfather had a different take.  “Is that your house they are building over there?” he asked him.  “no sir.”  Is that your construction crew working on that house?”  “no sir”  “Is that your land, was that your dirt that you found those nails in?  Was that your property?”  “no sir”.  Then, those aren’t your nails.   You didn’t pay for them.  What you did is called stealing, and stealing is wrong.”    The next day, my grandpa walked my dad down to the site where he apologized for stealing and handed the foreman that full coffee can of nails. 

That was old school!

Our dad learned that just because you find something doesn’t  mean it’s yours, and just because you can get something for free doesn’t mean you should.   He consistently taught us that just because you can do something the easy way, doesn’t mean it’s the right way.   Truthfulness, honesty, integrity matter. And they are good.

Jesus said, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,” and by God’s grace, my dad really did.    

Monday, February 6, 2012


I wanted to take a moment to endorse and recommend David Platt’s Radical.  

I started reading it a couple of weeks ago, and took it fairly slow in order to really digest and meditate on the Christ exalting truths that Platt unpacked. 

Platt’s books (and sermons, I hear) are loeaded with scripture and quite convicting as well as inspiring.   The book moves quickly as he addresses the call of discipleship in a direct, convincing and applicable way.  At the end of the book, he lays out a one year “Radical Experiment” with 5 ways to really pursue God and live for him.  

I guess in some ways, you could read the back cover of the book and get the main point!  I could summarize it in less than a sentence: 
God is amazing, His mission is glorious, Jesus our savior is worth your whole life!!

It's similar to most good Christian books in that way -including other best sellers like Crazy Love by Francis Chan.   But don’t settle with synopsis.  It’s worthy to read thru this whole book and really internalize the things that he’s talking about. 

He also has another one that I think is made for small groups called Radical Togetherbut, I haven't read that one....

A friend of mine,  Mike Morgan once asked me: "is there any book you've read that you didn't think was "great?"   I like to imagine that I pick my books pretty carefully  -and I don't subscribe to the idea that you have to finish everything you start.  (because some things should have never been started in the first place!)   Thus, I would say,  I haven't read too many books all the way thru that I didn't at least appreciate.  If a book is lame, I just stop reading it once I get the main point.   But, for insight and credibility sake, here are 

some that I don't think are great!  

Velvet Elvis  by Rob Bell.  Creatively written of course, and not boring, just not actually as illuminating as the author supposes it to be.  A book full of great questions, but lacking on clarifying answers.   This book rants and raises some great issues throughout, but in the end I felt like I was standing on sand instead of a solid rock. 
Servolution  by Dino Rizzo  A great concept; Basically, it's about serving like Christ.  Amen!  And I think Dino’s church must be doing some awesome ministry! There's nothing heretical in this book that I saw, but it was just not engaging!  I'm not sure why!  So, I didn't finish it.   I am sure some people find it inspiring;  that was the author's point, but I thought it was poorly written. 
Irresistible Revolution: living as an ordinary radical by Shane Claiborne  I actually enjoyed reading most of this book.  (i didn't finish it.)  I think I'd enjoy hanging out with Shane if I got to meet him, and I support the things he does in Philly and beyond.  But, his theology is kind of weak, and he uncritically weaves too many worldly political ideas (mostly liberal ones) into his books.  Tim Keller's Generous Justice is a way more worthy read.  And Keller allows the Gospel to critique both liberal and conservative ideals that aren't biblical.