When my grandma purchased the land that camp sits on, she made a sweet request to the Lord and asked that everyone who stepped foot on this property would feel the presence of the Lord. I have had the golden opportunity to watch this peace land inside the heart and soul of many lives while being a part of the ministry here at Snowbird over the last two decades. The Lord is so very good!
My life is a beautiful chaotic mess, raising 2 teenagers, one pre-teen, a kindergartener, and a toddler. I’m always on the go—like so many of you. However, in the busy-ness, it has been very refreshing to have a few moments to myself preparing for the Respond Women’s Conference.
Most of that preparation has been in reading through the book of Philippians. The old truth that to live is Christ has breathed a new freedom into my lungs and drawn me into His marvelous light once again. Paul’s words compel us to dig deep and press close to our Savior, dying to ourselves that we might live. If our lives are found in Christ, we can be women who are unified in a way that speaks the truth of our Savior in the midst of suffering.
My prayer for the women who come to Respond is that they would feel Christ as they step onto the ground here…that they’d hear Him softly calling them into a place of humble re-purpose…soaked and saturated with the joy of the Lord. I can’t wait to see each of you ladies! There’s still a few spots left, so if you’re thinking of coming, please do! Register today.
I wanted to share the opening session of the SWO16 Winter Be Strong Men’s Conference, which happened last weekend. A couple hundred men from all over the U.S. were in attendance. From Northern Illinois to South Florida, men came together for fellowship, recreation, and discipleship. I hope this is encouraging and helpful. Give a listen, then pass along.
We have just finished our first two rounds of Winter SWO Retreats. This year, our Winter SWO teaching focus is Psalm 23. This passage is a very familiar for most Christians, but it’s one that few of us have ever really dug into and studied. The feedback from staff and students so far is really positive, and it seems that this is a very practical and encouraging study. One of the goals we have here in our teaching ministry is to be faithful in our handling of God’s Word while being practical in our delivery and instruction. We want staff, students and leaders to be encouraged as they sit under the teaching and preaching ministry of SWO, but we also want them to be focused and determined in their own commitment to study God’s Word—that they’d be shaped by it.
The kickoff to Winter SWO was pretty wild as unseasonably warm temperatures left us with no snow and no possibility of skiing or snowboarding. Many of the groups that come for Winter SWO sign up to spend an afternoon at the slopes. But this year, we just didn’t have that option. With temperatures in the seventies, we did what we had to in order to make the experience memorable. We went whitewater rafting! That’s right. We took students down the Nantahala River on the first day, but even that was cut short! We’ve gotten a lot of rain here lately, and since the forest service said the water levels were too high, we couldn’t go rafting the second day of the retreat.
The week between Christmas and New Years brought the craziest weather we had ever seen for that week, but the SWO staff, Pastors, and students who were here just made the most of it. In the end, we had a blast, and the Gospel remained the focus of the week. Students were challenged both spiritually and physically and God moved in our lives.
We will be traveling and preaching a lot over the next several months and maybe we will see you while we are on the road. God is good, and we want to see him do great things in 2016.
In 1994 a man named Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Palestinians, and wounded over a hundred more. He believed he was waging a holy war and that his enemies deserved killing. People of faith tend to think and act to the extremes. As Christians, we need to think and act by the power of The Gospel. In America today, it sure feels like a lot of Christians are thinking from the same mindset that motivated Mr. Goldstein. It is alarming.
There is a lot of talk and even panic over the possibility of Syrian refugees coming into our country. I don’t want to get into a political debate over whether they should or shouldn’t. But, as Christians, we need to be constantly asking the question of how we may reach people with the Gospel. The Government we have allows for voting, interaction with Representatives, and activism. We should exercise those opportunities we have been given. So vote, and correspond with the offices of your representatives and senators, and trust in the sovereignty of the same God who left Nero on the throne long enough to kill thousands of Jesus’ followers. But we should absolutely be strategizing how we may utilize every means to reach the nations with the Gospel. When the nations come to our shores, we can bellyache about how they are going to kill us, or we can meet them with the Gospel.
The Gospel is bigger than guns and bombs. Jesus is greater than Allah. IF you are an evangelical Christian, you should already believe this.
**Blog originally posted on Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters.
In Mark 10, Jesus gives us the story of The Rich Young Ruler. This man is a very religious guy, and has been really good at going to church and doing religious things—but he feels empty. After realizing that neither status nor religious living would earn God’s favor and salvation, even the disciples are confused. They ask Jesus how in the world could anyone hope to be saved if successful religious people weren’t good enough. Jesus told ‘em it was impossible. There was no way man could be saved—at least, not in his own strength. But that is the beauty of Amazing Grace! Only GOD has the ability to save me, and I have nothing in my own power to overcome my inability to get myself saved! Wow, that was a mouthful.
Now, for those of us who are in Christ, we should feel invincible. I remember reading a quote from Stonewall Jackson, the great battlefield general of the 19th century. He was a devout man of God, who loved The Gospel and wanted to see men come to faith in Jesus. He was fearless in battle and was so confident in God’s sovereignty that he stood in the face of enemy fire like a statue. He said he felt as safe in battle as he did in bed. THAT is confidence in The Lord.
Adam Brown, a member of the elite Seal Team Six who was killed in action in 2010, once said he didn’t know how anyone could go to war that didn’t have faith in The Lord. Confidence in God’s providence enables men and women to move forward in the face of overwhelming adversity.
The Gospel-Man knows that there is no greater miracle than the miracle of the salvation of sinners. If God can radically redeem sinners, and if that salvation actually happens—and it does—then anything really is possible. My life is defined by the calling and blueprint God has for me. So, to borrow from a favorite modern hymn, “til he returns, or calls me home…” I am invincible. And regardless of how difficult the circumstances in life may be, God is never nervous or unsure of what he intends to do. The God who saves me, empowers me to live obediently, and the impossible becomes possible.
I want to live as one who really does believe that with God, all things really are possible.
Check out Part One.
Every year for the past twenty, I have managed to avoid the chaos of being in the public marketplace on Black Friday. Most years, in fact, I have spent the biggest shopping day of the calendar year on the family farm away from the craziness of it all. The morning is spent in the deer woods, the afternoon hanging out with my wife and kids, and the evening around the fire with extended family. It is a refreshingly slow day—not exactly the way most of us spend the day after one where we give thanks for all that we already have. America is a nation of consumers, and this is never on display more than on Black Friday. It seems that each installment of this event comes with stories of grown-ups fighting at the entrances of Wal-Mart stores and shopping malls all over the country, just to be first in line to get the best deal on a tech gadget that will be outdated and laughed at by the next time this day rolls around.
There is no doubt that we live in a consumer-driven society and we often take that mindset into the church. We show up on Sunday, receive what is offered, maybe give our thoughts and opinions to our lunch company, then relax or recreate the afternoon away in preparation for the work week. Most of us would have to admit that we simply do not prepare to receive the Word of God before we arrive, and we do not reflect after we leave. We have allowed the mindset of a consumer to hijack every aspect of our lives.
This year, would you consider giving the gift of camp to a student who otherwise may not be able to go? One of the great rewards of serving at SWO is working with youth pastors and leaders who are in the trenches daily laboring over the lives of young people and their families. Most of these guys work on a shoestring budget and must find creative ways to fundraise for kids whose families cannot or will not pay to send them to camp. We keep costs at SWO as low as possible, but it is simply out of reach for so many that would love to come. We love to give stuff away, and we especially love to give away free spots at camp as a resource to student pastors and parents who know the Gospel-impact that a kid will receive.
Would you pray about giving to help a teenager get to camp? If you can’t pay for a full scholarship, maybe you could donate a portion. It will legitimately change a kid’s life, and give a youth pastor the boost that he needs to get his kids to camp.
Let’s move beyond consumerism this Christmas, and invest in the Gospel impacting lives in this generation.
This is an exciting time at SWO. We are ramping up for SWO16 and staff applications have started trickling in. We are already over eighty five percent booked for SWO16 summer camps! This is a record, as we typically don’t reach that number until January. God is moving in and through the ministry at SWO. I am so grateful for the team God has assembled here and for the way I am seeing these laborers come to work to serve students and leaders. I will be on the road preaching and teaching a good bit this winter (you can follow my schedule here), so I hope to see you at one of those events.
We are planning breakout session topics, media projects, facility improvements, and of course, NEW REC IDEAS! If you or someone you know would be interested in serving or maybe just looking for a great way to serve while being trained and discipled, staff applications are open until February. Please check it out. Let me know if you have questions or need some direction as you pray about joining the SWO team. We typically select about one hundred additional staff to join our year-round team of forty–and we’ve already had over 200 folks start the application this year. Go to the SWO website for more information here.
Hope to hear from you soon.
“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…”-Rudyard Kipling
Ole Rudy was on to something.
If you have never done a self-evaluation to determine whether you are a “glass half empty” or a “glass half full” kind of person, you should do it. You may need to get really vulnerable and transparent and ask the people around you, closest to you—those you trust. The fact is, pessimism is a fairly cultural norm in our generation. We tend to think the worst in any given situation, and we tend to expect the worst outcome. We impose this onto people, expecting others to disappoint us, and we rarely give others the benefit of the doubt. We sort of expect the worst out of people and almost wait for failure to ensue.
But in a world where enough bad stuff happens, a Gospel Man will look for opportunities for Christ to shine in the worst situations. I want to be the kind of man who cannot, and will not, be discouraged.
When the economy tanks, Jesus is still on the Throne, and opportunities abound. When terrorists attack and politicians disappoint, The Gospel will still thrive. We serve a God who DOES. He is at work, and things are happening everywhere for His Glory. We need to view life through THAT lens.
And we need to remember Jesus’ words in Mark 10, “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
But we’ll get into that in part 2…