Many around us are struggling

This is one of those months where I feel burdened to share with you all something very hard. Please bear with me as my thoughts are still processing what’s happened. In the last two months we have had two believers we know take their own lives. One was a complete shock to just about everyone and the other, which happened yesterday, was less so.

I want to talk about this because we, the church, need to understand that this happens to believers. We need to understand that it can happen to any of us given enough difficult circumstances. We are all capable of doing the unthinkable.

Secondly, I want us to be ready to be helpful to each other, to be a safe place to help each other so that this happens less.

In light of that I wanted to talk about some of the causes of suicide, chiefly mental illness. I think mental illness is hard for all of us to understand and so we can shy away from helping out of fear of doing it wrong, or just lack of understanding what’s happening. I know I feel this way.

However, we can add pain to people who are suffering through our beliefs and choices. We need to understand that much mental illness is not stemming from sin, it’s more a condition of our fallen world and broken bodies.

I had a coworker who loved the Lord whole heartedly, yet was bi-polar. He was a great role model for me to understand, because I watched how he handled his condition and I knew how he loved the Lord even when his mind and body chemistry betrayed him. For example, one time when he was manic he stared into the sun looking for Jesus to come, burning spots into his retinas. Since he knew he at times would not be able to reason properly, he had a network of friends and coworkers who had his permission to intervene if his meds got imbalanced. They had learned what to look for and he cooperated as best he could. We can learn a lot from his and their example.
In other cases, such as the man who ended his life yesterday, sin is involved. Here’s an excerpt of the email he sent out yesterday to his friends. After doing something really bad that became public he said,

“In the months that followed, I felt myself slipping emotionally and spiritually. I tried to reach out to a few close friends and I never heard from two of them again. Having friends turn their back on me probably hurt the most and I went into a shell. I didn’t want any of my other friends to hurt me, so I didn’t tell anyone else. Perhaps this wasn’t smart on my part, but it’s what happened.
I just don’t have any more fight in me. The thought of finding a new career, interviewing for new jobs, and having to explain why certain things were on my record was just too much for me to handle. Don’t feel bad for me. My story is one of self-inflicted wounds, both figuratively and here at the end, literally. I’m so sorry for the pain this action will cause others, especially those closest to me.

What is heartbreaking is seeing how many responded instantly to this email with love and pleas for him not to follow through, but it was too late.

We, as believers, will sin. And we’ll watch friends back away from the Lord. Or we’ll back away from them because they do something abhorrent. But Christ came to save sinners. We are recipients of this and we are his body to reach out to sinners with truth and grace covered in love. Oh that we wouldn’t weary of doing what is good and right! I’m preaching to myself.

He gave up because of shame and isolation. We need to create environments personally and in our church communities that counteract that. I think it’s especially hard for men, since opening up emotionally and being vulnerable is even harder for them. We won’t catch everyone who chooses the path of hiding sin and isolating, but if we consciously try to make safe connections with each other, it will help.

Lastly, we need to know when to call for help. The national suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255. We also can have our churches research local resources and well trained Christian counselors so that we are ready to help fully swiftly. Thank you all for bearing with me and trusting God to work in and through us.

Marriage Tune-up

Napa, CA Weekend to Remember, February 3-5, 2017

“We have been broken for several years. This weekend we were hoping to rekindle our faith and marriage, or part ways. What you shared, and what you shared personally, helped us to know that we could write a new story together”.
– Wife, married 25 years

“It has reminded me of things I already knew but allowed myself to neglect through a pile of excuses. This has damaged my vertical relationship. I have been in a spiritual low for a while. This has hurt everyone I hold dear. I can’t waste any more time. None of my excuses hold water.”
– Husband, married 4 years

“Through the speakers sharing their experience with bringing porn into marriage, it opened up conversations we’ve never been able to have. I’m thankful that light was shed on this area”.
– Wife, married 4 years

“I’m so glad that my mom pretty much “forced” my fiancé and I to attend this conference. My mom registered us after we got engaged – without our consent. This was probably the best surprise she’s done for us. This weekend was very informative and really gave us tools to prepare for our marriage. I didn’t know these conferences existed. I’m also happy that there were areas that focused on “pre-married” and not just married/re-married couples”.
– Female, pre-married

As you can see, marriages have many pitfalls, from wrong expectations to porn use to poor communication to selfishness. And the poor communication isn’t always just with your spouse, but with God himself. Our marriages are precious, and worth the effort of saving and making work well as God designed. Karl and I have been fortunate to attend the Weekend to Remember several times over the years and we just registered online to go to the Columbus weekend this fall, because it’s worth it.

And thanks to FamilyLife’s generosity, we are able to offer you the opportunity to attend the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway at 75% off the regular registration rate! (now thru December 2017).

The getaway will feature two and a half days of practical teaching and insights from the nation’s top marriage experts, along with plenty of time to relax and enjoy stress-free time alone.

To take advantage of this opportunity, simply visit to select a date and location that works for you. Then enter promo code: CruThanks at checkout to receive your discount.

If you have any questions and if you decide to attend, let us know. We’d love to pray for you during that weekend.

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


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