Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April Update P.S.

In our updates, we often end up remembering stories just after sending it out or just don't have enough room to get them in the newsletter.  Sadly, we can only stretch our newsletter templates so far.

One of the things that didn't make it in the official newsletter, though, was how much emotion we saw in our Japanese students as we said our goodbyes with them heading back to Japan.  Both guys and gals teared up as they said goodbye.  They thanked us many times as they tried to fight back the tears from running down their face.

It was tough to see students you can't help but love go but we know seeds have been planted and the Holy Spirit is continuing to impact their hearts.

One of the students said that his favorite memory of being in the States was spending Christmas with Rachel, my mom, and me.  It was a special time that included going to a Christmas Eve candlelight service at our church.  He really enjoyed that and the time with our family as did we.

Another student said that his view on Christianity and Christians had been radically transformed in a very positive way through coming consistently to Christian Challenge, the conversational English classes, and hanging out with us.  The feedback we get from our students really touches our hearts and is encouraging.

We know, though, that we couldn't do this alone.  You guys have had a huge part in helping seeds be planted in these students' lives, and I ask that you would continue praying that those seeds would one day produce great fruit!  Thank you so much!

Cheers and God Bless,
Mike and Rachel

Christian Challenge April Update 2013!

Hello Family & Friends,

It’s been an amazing semester that has now come to an end.  Finals week is over.  Graduation has passed.  We have been blessed to see firsthand what the great things God is doing at FLC and in the lives of our students.

FCA has been amazing with a really solid, core group committed to growing together in Christ.  We have also made connections with John L. Smith, the new football coach.  He is behind FCA 100% wanting us to start up new Bible studies for the team and to travel with them.  It’s a huge door opened by God!

Christian Challenge and our international ministry have also been amazing building relationships and helping our students walk with Christ.

Even though the semester is over, we aren’t done yet.  We will continue meeting with students over the summer.  We are also still taking three students to the Philippines on a mission trip in June.  We’ll have more info on the trip and students going in next month’s letter.  Rachel and I will fill in the rest of our summer support raising wherever God opens doors for us.  Thank you all for making these past two semesters possible with your prayer and financial support!  Keep praying for FLC!

Here are some pictures highlights from the semester!



Dan Read:  Dan is from the Kansas City area.  He studied World History at FLC.  His next step in life is attending the Duke School of Divinity in the coming months and years to obtain his Masters of Divinity.  Pray for him as he seeks the will of God for his life and his future ministry.

Randi Lash:  Randi is from Kirtland, NM.  She graduated from FLC with a degree in Psychology.  Lord willing, she plans to come on staff with us to do ministry at FLC starting in the fall for the next two years.  Pray for her as she steps out in faith to further the Gospel at FLC.


-For our mission trip to the Philippines, that our hearts would be prepared for the trip and that funding would come in.

-That we find some rest and recovery time this summer between support raising, the mission trip, and continuing to meet with students.

-For our students, that they continue to grow in Christ and make good choices over the summer.

-That God would help us raise the funds to continue ministering at FLC.

Love you guys, Mike and Rachel

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Just jump in, the water's fine...

I always hear a lot of stories about Christians who don't read the Bible.  They want to but they don't.  Many have a long list of excuses why.  One of the biggest excuses, though, that I have heard is that people don't know where to start.  And because they don't know where to start, they just decide they won't read it.  They want to jump into the water but which way should they jump?  Where should they jump in?  Should they dive or cannon ball?  Shallow end or deep end?  Maybe they should just use the steps?  So many questions and decisions to make.  It's overwhelming to someone who has never entered the water.  Does it really have to be that tough, though?  Nope, not really...unless you over-think it.

So here's the thing with the Bible, reading it doesn't have to be complicated.  Often times, we over-think things and make them way more complicated than they actually are.  In reality, you can't really go wrong with the Word of God...unless of course, you're only using it as a paperweight.  In all seriousness, though,  you can jump into it anyway you want.  It's all good stuff.  Don't be afraid of starting in the wrong place.  I started in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible.  That's certainly not an easy one to interpret.  A lot of people laugh when I tell them that was the first book of the Bible I read...but I survived to continue reading more of the Bible. 

Sure, some things are easier to digest than others.  Some books are easy like the Gospels in the New Testament.  Some books are quite tough or difficult to swallow and get through...like half of the Old Testament.  Some verses may speak to you more than other verses but in the end, you really can't go wrong by just picking a place to start and reading a chapter.  If the chapter or book you're in is a bit tough, try another section of the Bible.  That's not to say that you don't ever have to tackle the tough parts.  God gave us the Bible for a reason, not to just pick and choose only the easy parts.

Personally speaking, I'd suggest starting in the Gospel of John.  You can find it in the table of contents.  It's a good place to start, and after you're done with it, you can pick another book of the Bible to read.  It's as easy as that.  (I suggest sticking to the New Testament if you're just starting out.)  You can even start by just reading five minutes a day.  Increase your time as you go.  Don't feel like you have to get through the whole Bible in a week.

For a Christian, there really are really very few, if any, good excuses to not read the Bible.  This is coming from a guy who has dyslexia and trouble reading.  If you want to start but haven't, just do it.  Don't put it off.

The whole thing reminds me of a guy Rachel met at the soup kitchen the last time she went with our students to serve.  Rachel was able to sit down with a guy and just talk with him.  He basically said that he just wasn't going to work until he figured out what he really wanted to do with his life.  And why should he work?  He had everything provided for him through the soup kitchen and other avenues there for people who actually need it.  He wasn't disabled.  It wasn't that he wasn't educated.  He just wasn't working because he didn't know what work path to start down.  He didn't want to start if he couldn't figure it all out beforehand.

That makes sense, right?  Yeah, no...it doesn't make sense at all.  That's just crazy.  Just because you don't know what you want to do with your life or where to start doesn't excuse someone from working.  You don't work, you don't eat...unless you are blessed to live in America, I guess.  You shouldn't get to be lazy and mooch taking away assistance from people who actually need it because you feel you have the right to do nothing until you have an epiphany about your work life.  Wow.  I'm not going to pull punches here.  The man needs to start searching and applying for jobs so he can support himself until he figures it all out.  I think most people would agree with that.

So why do we treat our spiritual lives differently when it comes to reading the Bible?  Stay with me here.  In reality, the same applies to Christians and getting into the Word.  It seems somewhat crazy to decide you won't read it until figure out where to start with it.  No, just crack it open and go.  You figure it out along the way.  You adjust to what works for you as you go.

Just don't wait.  It really doesn't matter how you do it or where you start as long as you do start.  Everyone does it a little differently.  They find what works for them over time.  It's okay to figure it out as you go.  It's okay to ask friends and family for help as you get into it.  You've even got a Holy Spirit you can ask for guidance from.  Not a bad deal if you ask me.  In fact, praying for guidance from the Holy Spirit is always a good idea whether reading the Bible or just living life.

It's time to put excuses aside and just jump in.  We don't have to over-think it or make it complicated.  It's really not as scary or overwhelming as we make it in our minds.  The more you do it, the easier it will become.  After awhile, it will become a habit.  Do it enough and it can become a craving or even an addiction.  That's exactly how it should be.  But in that, you will never become addicted to something if you never try it, if you never start.

So as a Christian, why put it off?  Why wait?  God's waiting for you to just jump in.  Don't worry, the water's fine.  Remember, pools aren't just made to look pretty.  They're made to be used.  They are a lot more exciting when you actually get in.