Saturday, November 23, 2013

Weekend at Messiah

The first weekend of November, Dinita and I took off and visited with Lyndsay at Messiah College. There is a web site that posts the 25 Most Beautiful Christian College Campuses ( and my alma mater, Nyack College is listed at #23. But after being at Messiah I'm wondering how in the world did they miss this place?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Is "RADICAL" all that Radical?

     One of Crosspoint's Sunday morning Adult Bible Studies did a series based on the book by David Platt entitled, "Radical." The series featured a video presentation of Platt as he preached a series of messages that challenges the Americanized Christianity that we've become so comfortable with. I'd read the book and saw the positive results in other people's lives of how this teaching impacted their discipleship. I was very excited about the potential of this teaching being revolutionary to our family of faith.

    I wasn't prepared for the negative reaction that came. In the video's Platt makes his case well for what ought to define a fully devoted follower of Christ. It isn't what we typically think of as the American Dream. Rather it is about sacrifice, simplicity, generosity and just simply care for the poor and broken of this world.

    Where things seemed to have broke down in my expectations was that Platt evidently pretty plainly states that if you're not living this radical discipleship type of lifestyle then you really aren't a Christian and that you are going to hell. That didn't settle well with half the group. The other half were OK with it.

    A number of those who were offended by his stark statements, agreed with the basic premise. We aren't living the style of Christian life that Jesus and the Bible calls us to and the challenge is a right one. What was offensive was the manner in which it was said and the guilt and fear that Platt tried to drive his message on.

    This is a great example of the power of communication and the disaster of miscommunication. I'm not one who is motivated by someone trying to make me feel guilty. There are some that need that sort of leverage. I often wonder though, when the guilt is relieved if the person doesn't revert automatically back to his old ways. When the motivation is external and then removed, then there is not motivation. But when the motivation is internal it has been made a part of our soul and therefore it only needs to be maintained. Only the Holy Spirit can take teaching like the message of Radical and transform us to make it a part of who we are.

     Now here's the punch line of this post. I just read a blog that my daughter Rachel posted a couple of days ago about her first field trip with her third grade class in Jakarta. He experience reveals the powerful way the Holy Spirit can transform us through experiences and teachings that align with God's Word. I encourage you to read it and let it soak in. Click HERE to go to Rachel's blog.

    After reading her post I think you will agree that what we don't need is more guilt-trip sermons ... but field trips to the inner city and to the hurting people in our world. If we could just get the eyes of a third grader and quite trying to rationalize and defend our lifestyle, then maybe the Holy Spirit really could transform us!

Monday, August 26, 2013

An Incredible Fishing Spot

    I got this photo in an email yesterday from a friend and I found it to be quite amazing. More people living in that little circle than living outside of the circle. Within that circle is China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and a host of other Asian countries.

    What grabbed me was that three of our young adults are now serving in this circle. We seem to be gaining more and more connections with people from and in this circle all the time. Chinese students who come to the US to study have found a church home at CrossPoint. The Lord seems to be developing a heart for the people of this circle in our community of faith.

    Take it another step. I'd like to see an overlay map of Christianity. My hunch is that this region might be the least impacted by the Gospel. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:15-16, "We hope that your faith will grow so that the boundaries of our work among you will be extended. Then we will be able to go and preach the Good News in other places far beyond you, where no one else is working."

    I'm NOT a fisherman. But I'm not dumb either. If I want to go catch fish I go to where there are the most fish. In one sense we go to this region of the world we are fishing for the souls of people in one of the most populated fishing holes in the history of mankind1

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Gospel is a Powerful Path

This morning I read an article entitled “8 Evangelism Lessons From a Former Lesbian.”  It’s a review of a video interview of Dr Rosaria Butterfield who was a tenured professor at Syracuse University (which is probably why I was more attracted to the article). She tells the story of how God reached her through a Presbyterian pastor and his church there is Syracuse, NY. The eight lessons that the writer of the article distills from the one hour interview are the real spiritual weapons that we need to rescue people from darkness. I really encourage you to take the time to read and assimilate the means that God uses to call people to Himself. CLICK HERE to go to the web site for the article.

What gives Dr Butterfield her notoriety is a book she wrote that is getting very good press entitled, “Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith”

But this posting is about another comment that Dr Butterfield makes that caught my attention. I watched the interview because the article so intrigued me. The video can be viewed on YouTube by CLICKING HERE.

The context of this comment is important. In the book she talks about how the first time she went to the Pastor’s home they didn’t follow the script. She was nervous about going and getting “the Gospel” in four phrases and then being asked to go to church. The pastor and his wife did neither. That was attractive to her. They didn’t have an agenda. They displayed genuine care and were interested in her. She found that then something she didn’t expect to find out about The Gospel.

The Gospel is not just a set of ideas or a set of words. It is a powerful path by which God calls people to Himself and redeems us and heals us.

“The Gospel is a powerful path!” That statement really resonates with me. I see that it resonates with many scriptures as well …

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Romans 1:16 (ESV)

Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.  
1 Thessalonians 1:5 (ESV)

How often we evangelize on the premise that if we’ve given the words and ideas of the Gospel then we’ve done our job. But this refined notion of what constitutes the Gospel tells us that the true proclamation of the Gospel consists of life, love and the power of the Holy Spirit, all on display through our lives.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rachel Travel Update

   I thought I'd better keep the blog up to date in regards to Rachel's move to Asia. She and Janna got in to the Singapore Airport about 11:30am our time this morning. There's a great app for my iPod called FlightTrack Pro which gave us real time updates of where the plane was, how fast it was going and how high it was. During the night last night is kept us updated every time the expected arrival time changed. Sometimes there's a bit too much information. But it was cool to come out of PrayerPoints gathering last night to see that she was flying over the north pole.

   She texted Dinita from the taxi on the way to Kenneth Sin's home in Singapore. They got all their luggage and through customs without a single hitch. She's now Facebook friends with Veronica's sister in Singapore and they are planning on dinner together on Saturday night.

   In two words ... "I'm jealous!" Way to go Rachel! Have a blast. Love ya!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Quick Travel Update

We saw our little girl off this morning about 9:30 at the Cleveland Airport. I think that there were just about the right amount of tears shed. Some wonderful hugs and even a huge smile. Thanks to all of you who have been praying for us ... don't stop now! She took off a few minutes after 11:00 and as I write this, the web site says she is right over top one of her most favorite places on earth ... Beulah Beach. He friend, Janna is waiting at O'Hara airport for her to arrive and the two of them will get on a flight headed for Singapore. How thankful we are that Rachel has a such a good friend going to Jakarta with her.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My LIttle Girl Is Ready to Fly

The picture above was taken 21 years ago at the Pittsburgh airport as Dinita’s and my family said good-bye to us as we headed to Thailand. The little 15 month girl between me and my dad is Rachel. Things have changed quite a bit at airports since 1992 so we’ll not be walking to the gate … but we will be dropping Rachel off at the Cleveland airport as she leaves for Jakarta, Indonesia and I’m just now getting the flood of emotions and pain that my mom and dad must have gone through that August morning so long ago.

I can’t imagine a more bitter-sweet moment. (Although the day that I walk her up the isle will likely top this one!)

There is incredible joy and thanksgiving to God for the abundance of His grace in her life. How many young people have great dreams in their early years but the dream so often fades or gets sidetracked? We have watched as God continued to foster in Rachel’s heart and mind a vision and dream of teaching children of many different cultures. In about 8th grade when most kids are studying the Toys-R-Us catalogue in November, Rachel had a catalogue from Global Adventures posting all the different short term missions trips. She didn’t want Christmas gifts ... she wanted money to go on a missions trip. She ended up going to Costa Rica for two weeks. Since then she has become a seasoned world traveler and sometimes she seems more at home in foreign cultures than she does in Fairlawn. She easily engages people of different cultures and has a way of building bridges with them with just her smile and laugh. Those at IWU who were her mentors and instructors talk in glowing terms of how she was able to so naturally embrace education principles for a broad variety of cultural backgrounds. Those who worked with her during her student teaching in Sheng Yong, China told her after a couple of weeks that it was like she had always been a part of the school. She just fit in perfectly.

During a visit with Rachel’s principal adviser for education I thanked him for all he and IWU did to help her grow into such a godly woman. His response was that they are able to do only so much, it really is a matter of what students bring with them to school, and then he added, “She brought a lot with her.”

I remember the first time that Rachel played an offertory at church. I got up and almost couldn’t go on I was so incredibly proud. I feel that way to the 10th power today. And I have only the Lord to thank and praise for the way he has blessed her and us through the years. It’s his grace and goodness that has brought this joy and pride into our lives!

But then, there is tomorrow morning.(July 17)

I can very easily recall the emotions that I had the day that we put her on the plane to go to Costa Rica for two weeks. I can’t imagine what I’ll be feeling like, 24 hours from now.

Thankfully, now there is email, Facebook, instant messaging, Facetime and Skype. The world has gotten smaller with the technology. But these past few weeks of having her at home and traveling through Thailand together are going to be cherished memories. Her warmth and joy will be missed. I might even come to the point of missing those early morning fog horn nose blowing sessions. She is fun! And her leaving will mean a “fun” deficit of sorts.

This morning I was in 2 Corinthians 2:14-15a: But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.(NLT) 

I’m going to miss that “Christ-like” fragrance that Rachel has brought to our lives, family and our church. But He has led her as His captive to Indonesia where she will spread the knowledge of Christ like sweet perfume.

I love you Rachel and my prayer is that His grace would continue to flow through you and touch lives for His glory just as he has used you to bless us for these past 22 years.

Grace, Peace, Joy and His Unfathomable Love to you!


Vacationing in Cha-Am, Thailand in June