Theology Matters

Hey, y’all! Hope your year has been starting out well. Ours has been the normal, de-holiday the house, get back to school after getting over a cold and getting back to the normal swing of things at work and church (probably just like you ☺). One new thing for us is that Anja is in drivers ed! No road work yet, but that will come soon enough.

Another new thing is that I’m in a class, too, not just Anja. Cru staff can join straight out of college without a seminary degree. In light of that, Cru has all of our staff take condensed theology classes, a total of eleven, for what we call the Institute of Biblical Studies certification. These classes are a big part of what happens every summer, especially the years we’re in Colorado – that’s part of what the Conference team we work on makes happen.

Other times a ministry location brings in a professor and many staff in that region (like Indy ☺) take an intensive one week version of the class. This happened at our office last week with our staff delving into the depths of physics and philosophy and so much more as they learned more about Apologetics (which means testifying and providing reasoned defense, not apologizing like it sounds).

In recent years, technology has made it possible to do the classes online. Normally I’ve taken one every year or so in Colorado, but last year Karl and I did the apologetics class online together (and I’m so glad we did it together, it is a lot to chew on and really made my brain hurt!). So now I am taking my very last class! It’s about Systematic Theology, focusing on God, the Bible and the Holy Spirit. I thought I’d share just a tiny bit of what I’m learning. Maybe it will whet your appetite to study it, too.

Systematic Theology answers this: What does the whole Bible teach us today about any given topic? It treats topics in a carefully organized way, it is gospel-centered, and seeks to accurately handle all the relevant Bible passages.

All people live by some theology, some view of God and the world, and believers formulate their own understanding as we learn more about God, but much of what we do is disjointed. That can lead to picking and choosing a scripture out of context, misunderstanding the whole of God’s character or His expectations of us.

Since we are both finite in our ability to retain all of our knowledge and we still have the effects of sin marring our comprehension and desire to follow God perfectly, we all need to continually examine what we think we know and compare it to the whole of God’s word. But, since our time is finite as well as our minds, doing an entire, complete search of each topic every time – well it just wouldn’t happen.

That’s where studying Systematic Theology can help. It’s a resource that you can use to check your personal theology against and it can point you to the Biblical sources for your own research. And ultimately, the more you genuinely know and understand God and his character, the more you will love and obey Him and the more abundantly you’ll see/understand Him active in your life. We’re using Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem if you want to check it out. He designed it so you can study topically instead of needing to read it all at once or in a specific order. It is meaty, so you have to think, but I’ve found that my awe of God grows every time I put the effort in to digest some of it. This is a way we can love God with our minds as well as our heart and soul and strength. I hope you enjoy it!

Anthem City Christmas Outreach

anthemcity

Happy Belated Thanksgiving! It’s been a crazy, but good month so far, with so much to be thankful for in the midst of a very messy, sin-filled world. We see God providing for people in the midst of their brokenness.

In light of this, we wanted to highlight the latest band being sent out of the Indy Cru office. It’s a brand new team with new content, called Anthem City. Their goal is to bring hope to those who are marginalized by others or by their own choices by introducing them to the one who chose to join them in this messy life in order to save us all from our sin and ourselves. We got to witness the dress rehearsal and it brought me to tears, it was so good. Their performance breathed new life and meaning into songs we already know well and the testimony sprinkled throughout was powerful. Here are a couple of excerpts from their updates:

Nov. 17th– Last night we had a wonderful show down in Bloomington, IN. We teamed up with Wheeler Mission Men’s addiction recovery program at Camp Hunt. These guys are taking 6 months to start their journey of being drug or alcohol free and at the same time learning how to walk with God. It is an amazing atmosphere and program.

The little chapel made for a great intimate atmosphere as we rocked out Transiberian Orchestra’s version of Carol of the Bells. Roughly 70 people were in attendance. The common theme we heard after the concert was “I have heard these christmas songs all of my life and this is the first time I understood them and why they are so important”. We did do comment cards and there were 5 first time decisions for Christ and a bunch of recommitments. Praise the Lord for his love and grace upon those men!…

Nov. 28th—One show recently was on Nov. 22nd at Westville Correctional Facility. We were blessed to perform in an auditorium that had its nuances and unique odor, but it was a great huge room that allowed us to be loud! 110 men were in attendance and they were into the whole show! 17 new brothers in Christ and 60 recommitted to a life with Jesus!!! Praise God! The band was blessed to have post concert conversations with the guys and story after story of hardship and desperation. Scanning the room I saw smiles and prayers being lifted, God worked hard in that room that night and chaplain Brian was impressed… He wants us back to help expand his ministry.

Keep praying as our schedule is ramping up big time starting tomorrow Nov. 29th. 8 concerts in 9 days. As well, crazy equipment issues keep showing up. And they are different ones at different venues. So, I am slightly suspicious the enemy is trying to thwart our efforts. Pray to keep him at bay and that those distractions are not evident to the audience.

As for us, Karl’s been busy doing more international email migrations. This time it was Latin America, and it’s amazing how many unexpected issues can come up. We also housed more students for MC training, only 4 this time so my laundry pile was modest by comparison to some of the other training weekends ☺. It’s always fun to interact with them. Lastly, since Karl works for a team in Orlando, they occasionally would like us to show up face to face, so we will be heading to FL for a few days next week. We’re thankful for a couple of people who will be able to be the adult presence in Anja’s life while we’re gone. Wishing you eyes to see and ears to hear what God’s up to in your messy world this Christmas season,

Hacking for Jesus

makedisciplesWhat does the word “hacking” mean to you? In the popular press, it often refers to the act of breaking into computer systems. To me, it usually means “creative programming”, which is the meaning that we’re referring to below.

Cru founded a project called “Indigitous”. The names comes from a combination of “Indigenous” + “Digital”.

  • Indigenous because it reflects our desire for locally-generated strategies that work in each generation, language and culture.
  • Digital because we believe digital tools, resources, platforms and strategies can accelerate God’s mission.

Indigitous is a partnership between several missions organizations and aims to “Connect you with people on a common mission, strategies that are effective and projects that are on the cutting edge of missional innovation.”

November 4 – 6, Indigitous is sponsoring a worldwide hackathon that will bring people together in 28 different cities to work on 14 global challenges. People can also participate virtually from wherever they are. This will involve people with talents in coding, problem solving, business planning, social network savvy, graphic design, understanding people, storytelling, and more. Since one of the cities is Orlando, many of my friends at Cru’s headquarters will be helping to facilitate the event or work on a challenge.

Mike Novak, President and CEO of Educational Media Foundation, says “The goal of K-LOVE & Air1 has always been to expand the reach of our faith-based messages, with an ongoing emphasis on the younger generation. We use music, short-form educational ministry features and on-air personalities who tie it all together. K-LOVE is extremely honored and excited to be part of Indigitous #Hack. This is the place to be, for anyone wanting to impact the world in a powerful way.”

Please pray that significant progress is made on these technical challenges, so that God’s kingdom is advanced. Also, even though time is short, please forward this opportunity on to those who have digital talents and a heart for the gospel. If they can’t help with this one, perhaps they can connect with Indigitous and get involved in the future.

Read more about Indigitous and the hackathon at Indigitous.org/hack.

Current Projects

We have some big projects happening in Cru’s Digital Products and Services office right now, and I’m involved in two of them:

Going Google
google-logoIn 2013, Cru in the US started using Google for mail, calendar, contacts, document sharing, and video conferencing. I love how Google’s tools allow us to work together across great distances.

Now we’re encouraging our ministries around the world to join us in the Cru Google system. Last weekend we migrated our Czech Republic staff, and we’re making plans for Latin America, South Africa, and other areas. Please pray that we plan carefully and communicate clearly as we work with teams around the globe to make this happen.

Redesigned Online Giving Site
new-give-siteAn increasing amount donations to Cru come through our online giving site at give.cru.org. The site works well on a full-sized computer, but doesn’t resize well for use on mobile devices.

As more and more people interact with the web on phones and tablets, we need to make sure that all of our web sites are “responsive” – that is, they respond to the screen size. It’s never good when you have to scroll left and right to view an entire web page or fill out a form online.

Here’s a fun experiment: browse to www.cru.org on a laptop or desktop, then gradually shrink the width of your web browser. Images that were beside each other will shrink, then stack on top of each other or disappear.

We would love to have this project done before the peak end-of-year giving season. Please pray that we can build all of the features and get rid of all of the bugs quickly!

Reaching the World

August is a big sending month for Cru. As I’ve seen pictures on Facebook of friends’ children heading off to college (and Anja turns 15 tomorrow!) Cru staff and students gear up to welcome them. Pray for students to come to Christ and learn to love walking with the Lord this year.

Our family has been involved this month in sending teams internationally! Karl went to Chicago to work on the staff and STINTers’ (1 year interns) computers that needed to be configured to work securely from within closed countries. We had a total of 697 participants of various types go through the doors of the Global STINT Briefing! This includes 98 STINT Team Leaders and 311 STINTers who are being sent to 43 countries, plus 14 International Campus Staff (ICS) who attended.

Stone Australia 2016Even Anja got to help by babysitting for the keytarist of the band “Stone” so that she could get in practice time before a month-long tour in Australia. They are able to do outreach in the schools, which is an incredible opportunity. As you’ll see below, they’re having amazing results and heartbreaking challenges on this tour and would be grateful for your prayers.

 

August 24
Show #1: 88 students attended and 12 indicated decisions to trust Christ!!!! Three wanted more info and the rest just rocked out with us like rockstars. Halfway through our set, this one kid started yelling, “One more song!”, which was good since we had about 7 more songs. Glad we were prepared for that. Whew!

Show #2: 201 students were in attendance and 34 accepted Christ!!!!!! Go God!!!! This was a seriously truncated set since we had only 30 minutes from bell to bell. I was quite amazed that we had so little time to build rapport and share the gospel, yet still got such a great response from the students.

-Continue to pray for favor with all those we play for
-Pray that we will love one another well, even as the days get busier
-Pray for our van situation. It’s still not operational and we’ve been having to arrange different rides, which separate us as a team.

August 28
Hey everyone. Well, while ministry is going great here, we’ve hit some snags and hiccups along the way that have the potential to be very discouraging.

While our van finally made it to the shop, it will not be ready in time for the next leg of our journey to the Outback. Thanks to some amazing people, we’ve worked out rides so we’re grateful for that.

We received news yesterday morning that our host for today’s four shows has died suddenly. We were all in shock and very saddened by this news. It turns out that he was the lone person at this school who was reaching these kids, so this is quite a loss for them. Please pray for this school as they hold a memorial service today to celebrate his life and mourn his loss. Pray that God will use this situation to draw students and teachers to himself in a way that our concerts never could have.