Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 2013 Christian Challenge Update!

Hey Team! Hope you’re doing well! With summer moving along, we have transitioned to support raising trips and the small summer hiking trips we do for our students through Climbing for Christ, the same organization we did the Philippines mission trip with.

This summer, God did some pretty cool things. Our first hike of the season was four days after getting back from the Philippines. It was up to a beautiful area north of Durango called Ice Lakes.

After the hike, our group decided to stop by Cascade, a series of waterfalls people jump off of in the summer time. It was on the way so we figured we might as well.

Upon entering the narrow canyon the waterfalls are in, we found the water to be a bit too high for the beginners in our group. I decided for safety reasons, our group wouldn’t jump that day.

As I looked down canyon though, I noticed a group of eight stranded on the first jump. The water was too high to get back to safety. Long story, short, I was able to rescue them from the situation. It was awesome that God put us there at just that moment to save those eight people. God wasn’t done yet. That was just the start of what God was doing.

Fast-forward to July 4th. Our plan is to take students to jump the falls before the great Silverton fireworks display that night. Who do we run into? One of the young women from our earlier rescue with another group of people...stranded on the first jump. This time, the water was at a safer level so I offered to guide them down it with our group. When all was said and done, we all made it out safely after a great time in the cold, mountain creek.

Through that, we were able to invite this young woman on our next hiking trip, the Grizzly Peak Camp and Climb. The trip, filled with hiking, fellowship, and devotionals, really gave Rachel a chance to connect, to pour into this young woman and encourage her. With the weather and other risk factors, our team was also able to pray a lot and see God answer those prayers. In the end, the whole team summited and returned safely. I think faith was definitely grown on the trip. I love seeing God work like that!

Prayer Requests:

-For Nick, one of the guys I’m discipling. Though it’s not for sure, the doctors think he has scarlet fever. He is still very sick. Pray for miraculous healing over him and that God would give him strength.

-For the FLC students, that the Holy Spirit would already be working on their hearts even before they start arriving in mid to late August.

-That God would continue growing us closer to Him and help us not neglect our first ministry; our marriage.

-For open hearts, for many to join us prayerfully and financially to bring the Gospel to Fort Lewis. If the Lord is leading you to give, please go to:

Thank you for joining with us to reach Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO! -Cheers and God Bless, Mike & Rachel

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Donald Miller Hatred

One thing that has been bothering me lately is all the criticisms of Donald Miller I come across online.  For those who don't know, Donald Miller is an author who wrote non-theologically deep books on Christianity and how it relates to his life, books like "Blue like Jazz" and "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years."  It's not that they are criticizing him that bothers me.  It's the way that people do it that can get under my skin.

There really seems to be a hatred among many Christians against Donald Miller.  It is not just a "I disagree on this issue because of what this scripture says."  Many times, there is a hatred that burns through their writings.  I'm all for being firm with people when they claim to be Christians but are out of line with what scripture teaches but there is a way to do it and a way not to.  If you are going to correct your kids, do you do it out of hatred?  Do you do it in a hateful way?  Nope, hopefully, you do it in a loving way.  Isn't that how God deals with us?  I'm sure thankful God has dealt with my shortcomings in a loving way.

Unfortunately, that's not the way Donald Miller or those who like to read DM have been treated.  No, they have been attacked and bullied by brothers and sisters in Christ, by preachers and pastors.  It's embarrassing and disappointing.  It's like I'm watching a bunch of middle schoolers gossip and bully...or maybe even like watching pharisees.  Instead of lovingly coming with scripture, they use the scripture to bash Miller and those who like to read him over the head.  Yeah, that always makes people listen.  He is at times treated as if he is not even human.  We need to remember that whenever we correct someone, that they are human.  They are not some tin can that you can just kick down the road.

Often times, they also attack him without actually quoting him.  They tend to use quotes from other people about him to do the attacking.  A lot of he said/she said has been used to attack Miller.  Rarely do you even find someone use actual quotes by Donald.  "Well, I talked to this person and they said this about Miller and his book.  They said that about his book."  But what do you say after reading it?  Oh, you didn't read the whole thing?  Well, maybe you should read the whole thing before judging the whole thing.  Judging a book by only a few pages is not much better than judging a book by its cover.

I often times hear arguments from people condemning Miller for things he never said or wrote.  But somewhere, they heard someone else say they heard it from someone.  They take it and run with it.  Let the attacks begin.  That kind of stuff doesn't fly very well in a court of law.  Why do we allow it elsewhere?  If I'm on trial, I wouldn't be very happy to be convicted on the testimony of a 4th-hand "witness" who heard about it 4 generations down the line but didn't actually witness it.

This is not just about Donald Miller.  This kind of thing happens a lot in Christianity.  Just google your favorite Christian big name author or favorite big time nationally known church and you will come up with sites calling them antichrists and heretics.  We beat our brothers and sisters in Christ down and push them away instead of trying to encourage and build people up.  When you beat someone down, you don't just beat that one person down...but you beat down those who associate with them.  On the other end of the spectrum, when you build someone up, you build up those who associate with them.  Instead of beating people down, you could be encouraging them and building them up even during times of needed correction.

If I'm a boxer, getting beat down doesn't make we want to stay in the ring.  That changes though if I've got a coach in my corner suggesting corrections or ways I could improve.  My resolve also changes if I've got fans cheering me on in the stands.  I don't need the people who should be in my corner to beat on me as well.  When that happens, many just walk out of the ring and never come back, spiritually speaking.

I get that it's a bit different with DM being an author that can lead people astray.  But every author has the power to lead his or her readers astray.  That's why we should always pray for discernment and test what we read and hear with the Word.  Whether it's Miller or Tozer, it should light a fire under our butt to get into the Word and find out if it's true.  We can't take the authors word for it.  We can't take the reviewers word for what the book says.  If you want to know what the book says, actually read the whole thing.  If you want to know how that stacks up against scripture, dig into the Bible.  Actually read it.  Then, whatever you find, learn to convey it, not out of hatred, but out of love.  The world is watching how we treat our brothers and sisters.  Let's not scare them away.  We are to represent and reflect Christ to this world, not embarrass Him with prideful infighting and hatred.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Christian Challenge June/July Philippines Update 2013!

Hello Team!  We hope you guys are having a great summer so far.

Rachel and I have certainly had a pretty amazing summer.  We actually just got back from the Philippines not too long ago.  We’re still adjusting to life back in the States.

With that, we’re working on getting caught up on post-trip things.  It may be summer but things are definitely not slowing down.  Enough of what we’ve been doing since we’ve been back, though.  I’m guessing you’d rather hear about the trip.

Well, the trip was amazing!  It was an absolute success!  It certainly was not without surprises, though.

The biggest surprise to me was the climbing.  I really thought it was going to be less difficult.  We were lower in elevation than what we normally climb so it should be easier, right?  Yeah, not so much.

I have never sweated so much and for so long as I did on the climb.  You just never dried out.  It was actually cooler if you didn’t stop because at least you had some wind on you.  If you stopped, there was no wind and you just became hotter.  It was extremely difficult and trying.  Living in Colorado, there’s just no way to prepare for that heat and humidity.

Ministry wise, things went much better than we could ever imagine.  God is good!

Rachel, Kala, Meagan, and Cody worked with the children’s ministry.  One of the most touching moments came as our team was leaving one of the villages.  The kids lined up for school and began singing “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know,” a song our children’s ministry had taught them the day before.  They then continued into a song thanking the mission team.  It was certainly a very special moment I’ll never forget.

Rachel had the opportunity to also work with the medical ministry.  She would meet with each patient to pray with them after they had met with the doctor.  It wasn’t what Rachel originally saw herself doing but God had a better plan.  In all, initial reports were that the team saw around 81 patients.

I was blessed to be able to work with the Bible ministry.  We started off meeting with local pastors surveying them as to how many Bibles were in their churches, and how many Bibles in the local language they needed.  Most churches had a Bible or two in the church...and for the most part, they weren’t in the local language.  Our team was able to bring 71 new Bibles in the local language to the area.  This will revolutionize the way Christianity functions in the area for generations to come.

I had many highlights along the trip.  From leading a devotional and some worship, to preaching in one of the churches with a translator, to divine appointments...there are too many highlights to list.

But one does stand out.  One of the days we were distributing Bibles, we had many villagers come to us asking for a Bible.  Some were from nearby but some actually were from very far away.    Two of those were mothers with children in their arms.  When asked why they wanted a Bible, they replied that they wanted to know God, they wanted their faith to grow.  Praise God for that!

After having traveled the same tough paths in the same hard conditions as these women, it was clear how important the Word of God was to them.  They didn’t take it for granted.  They overcame great obstacles for God’s Word.  To me, it reaffirmed why we were there.  We were there to bring God’s Word to people like these women so desperate to know Him on a much deeper level!

Prayer Requests:

-Praise for an extremely successful mission trip!

-That the Holy Spirit would continue working on the hearts of the local villagers.

-That God would raise up young pastors through discipleship as there is no one to step in for the “retired” pastors we met with still preaching and running their churches 10-15 years after their retirement.  The younger generations need to step up.

-That God would provide more Bibles for the region as there is still a great need.

Thank you so much for making this trip possible with your prayer support and financial support!  Cheers and God Bless, Mike & Rachel

P.S.  One last very important prayer request:

 -Pray for "N", an FLC student I have been discipling.  He was a student who had contemplated going on the Philippines mission trip but in the end, God closed that door.  Anyway, he became ill losing 15 pounds while we were away on the trip.  His doctors told him that had he not been so young, he probably would have died.  They still don't know what it is.  Pray for healing.  Pray that God would give the doctors discernment on what is causing the illness and wisdom so that they can treat whatever the illness might be.  Also pray that God would continue growing and encouraging "N" in his faith during this time of rest and recovery.  Thanks!