Be a part of our work

This year, a colleage challenged me to try a new approach, and so instead of a usual year end appeal letter, I put together a small catalog of giving opportunities.

I’m really excited about it, and would love to share it far and wide. But one of the opportunities is to give toward the work of someone who would be at risk if I gave much public information on the internet.

So, if you already subscribe to our newsletter list, you’ll get the details. If you don’t, and want the catalog, send me a message and I’ll pass it along. Also, if you’d like, now would be a great time to subscribe to our newsletter. 🙂 (There’s a subscription form to the right on our website).

What does it mean to know someone?

A number of years ago, I was editing a video.  In it a man shared his life story.  He was relatively old, and there was a whole lot of footage.  A personal conflict had prevented me from being able to do the recording, so I’d never met him.  For several weeks, I poured my every free moment into editing his life.  He had experienced some incredible hardships, but the twinkle in his eye, friendly demeanor, and the sense of who he was won me over.  As I watched the story of his life again and again trimming and tightening his story, I felt I’d come to know him.

A few weeks later, I ran into him at an event.  Warmly I hailed him from across the room, one friend to another, only to be greeted with a cold stare and his retreating back.  I didn’t really know him.  I only knew about him.  I had confused knowledge with relationship.

This story came to me this week as I was thinking about Jesus.  In this part of Germany, you can barely go ten steps without seeing a “Jesus.”  He’s been carved from wood and stone, cast in plaster, painted, and cut from tiny shards of glass.  You can find him on the sides of buildings, in any one of thousands of churches, or even on the side of the road.  Almost no matter where you look there is a cold lifeless figure of Jesus.  In general I attribute the best of intentions to the people that scattered Jesus’ image all over the world, but I wonder, does it really help?

Do you know Jesus?  Or do you just know about him?  Do you have a relationship with him or just knowledge about him?  Please don’t confuse the two.  Relationship with Jesus will change your life.  If you don’t see the evidence of that, the little changes day by day that are radically impacting you and your choices, I would challenge you to get to know him better.  It won’t necessarily make you healthy, wealthy, or wise.  In fact, I think in many cases it will lead to struggle, possibly even suffering.  At the same time, neither wealth nor getting our way all of the time can bring us happiness, just look at our Hollywood icons.  (More people we know all about, without really knowing.)  A life of virtually endless money, surrounded by sycophants who indulge their every whim, yet very few of them seem happy.  What knowing Jesus can give you is better than money, better even than happiness.  There is a Joy in Jesus Christ, a hope that life in the future will be better, a contentment in living where he places you that doesn’t exist anywhere else in life.  Living in relationship with Jesus isn’t easy, but it is incredible!

This past week I got a chain email.  I really don’t like chain letters, and determined a long time ago that no matter what the letter contained, if it pressured me in any way to send it on, I wouldn’t.  As they so often are, this email was a “forward this on if you really love Jesus” email.  I struggled a bit with guilty feelings about not forwarding it on.  However, a question struck me and I read it through again.  There was nothing in this email, nothing at all, that would reveal the character of Jesus to someone who didn’t already know him.  That’s what inspired this message.  I want you to know that if you reach out to Jesus he will not glare coldly and walk away.  He loves you and desperately desires relationship with you.  He gave up being God to come down to earth and live with all the same conflicting wants, unmet needs, passions and sufferings you experience today, and then he was brutally beaten, murdered, and he overcame death.  He did this, not because he needed to, but so that he could have a relationship with you.  No one else in your life will ever go to these lengths to try to know you.  Don’t stare coldly and turn away.  Take the opportunity of a life time.  Jesus loves you.

If you want to forward this on to your friends, feel free.  However, please do not include any guilt trip inducing language as though somehow punching the forward button on your email is living out the great commission.  🙂

Learn more about Jesus here.

I’m it, apparently.

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We interrupt the important and momentous events usually happening on this blog because… well, Courtney has tagged me. (See rules above)

 7 random/wierd things about Ted:

(please note that I am currently running a fever, judgement compromised, and cannot be held accountable for anything I may say.  Feel free to blame Courtney.)  😉

1. For a brief period of time I was considered an expert on Elvis by my hometown newspaper.  (In reality I know surprisingly little about him)

2.  I knew that I would marry my bride the first moment I saw her.  This led to much awkward and uncomfortable silence between us since she was only 14.  (I’m a very mature 9 months older)

3.  I owned my dream car, a 1967 Mustang, that I had professionally restored.  I loved it a good bit more than I should have and God took it away, actually via a rather large explosion originating in the gas tank, but that’s a whole other story.  God used this experience to teach me that the material is fleeting.  I do still get a little misty when a pretty Mustang rolls by, though.

4. I once auditioned for the Broadway cast of RENT.  (I have still never even heard the music from RENT, but a number of people have informed me it’s probably for the best I didn’t make it.)

5. My senior year of high school, my nick name was “Paris Silk” and I was known by this even at rival high schools by people I had never met before.  Jeff still calls me this, occasionally.

 6. I am the only one of three brothers not to have red hair.  In fact, my brother, Tim, used to tell me I was adopted as a child, because even our Irish Setter had red hair, but I did not.  Strangely, I was terribly concerned about this, despite the fact that neither of my parents have red hair.

 7. Somehow, at dinner parties, or when meeting new people I often wind up having to diagnose their computer problems.  I used to think this was because I worked on computers for a living.  Somehow, though, even now, this continues to happen to me.

 Ahhh.  Now to inflict this on some other people, like …

1. Trace at Adventures in DiCoccoville (hop over and read about their amazing adventures in South Africa)

2. Durand at CreativeWorks (Durand is also with GEM doing media work, but in Ireland)

3. John at  johnandheather.com (They do really great work ministering to kids in Peru)

4. Bennie at The Gonzales Family (They are in Ecuador planting a church)

5. Emory, who’s web site is parked, but who seems to know virtually everyone on facebook, so hopefully he’ll respond there.

6. The Holabecks, who rock the house in Cambodia.

 7. Janet in Zambia who is apparently quite the rule breaker.  🙂

A Museum

This past Sunday, my pastor gave a wonderful sermon about the transformational impact the Holy Spirit should have in our lives. I highly recommend it to you. You can listen to it here if you like.

At the end of the sermon he shared this story:

Two summers ago I was visiting a student of mine in a church in Texas. Nearby was Anson, Texas, where my dad had his first church. My dad took me there to visit when I was 10 years old, but I wanted to see it again. Anson is small so I figured I could just wander around and find the church. I found the Baptist church – it was large, and the Methodist church. But I couldn’t spot the Presbyterian Church – it was a small town and must be close.

Soon I found the Jones County Museum, open on a Sunday afternoon. I stopped and figured that they would know where the church was. As I walked up the steps of the building there it was on the cornerstone – First Presbyterian. I hoped the Presbyterians had built a new building, but the lady inside told me that First Presbyterian had closed in 1984, and sold the building to the museum. She said that there is a room up front where I could see the congregation’s history.

So I walked up just off the chancel – there was my father’s old study – it was now the heritage room and all that was left of that church.

It haunted me to be where there was once such a vibrant church.

In my position at the church, I get to listen to the sermon three to four times every Sunday, and actually I think I get a bit more out of it that way. As I listened to this story it struck me service after service that quite apart from a small Presbyterian Church in Texas, he could have been describing almost any church in Europe. When I enter the dome in Cologne, I am struck by the magnficience of it. There is a powerful sense of that place as a monument to God. However, in reality, it is largely just a magnet for tourists. So much so, in fact, that the Munster in Ulm contains a tourist shop in the lobby and the side of the Dome in Cologne is given over to a camera shop. To most Europeans, the beautiful artistry that so moves me, is representative of a religion that has failed to meet their needs.

When I asked Dr. Singleton’s permission to share his story with you, he shared another interesting thing he had once been taught. He told me that a movement usually begins with a man. It spreads to men, and then as it becomes a movement, it has a moment of peril when it can either explode with growth or become a monument. If it becomes a monument it will eventually be just a museum. The great cathederals of Europe have ceased to represent a movement, they have become museums.