The Slow Drift

ocean Just 3 days ago, I was at the beach with my daughter, Avery, who is working on her surfing. Specifically, her take off and bottom turns. The sea was rough, and some of the waves were powerful. It was creating a riptide that I could feel tugging me out and we had drifted about 200 yards north of our towels.  As we got out of the water, I noticed a group of teenage friends entering the water, but didn’t think much about it. They were loud, laughing and obviously having fun.

About 10 minutes later as we were gathering our things to go home, I noticed that some of the laughing or yelling seemed to be different and looked out at the ocean. I could see the girls and at this point could clearly hear them yell, “Help!” and “Mom!”  Of course it was more like, “Hhheeeelllp!” and “Mmoooooommm!” A couple of them were waving their arms, and one of them was clutching her bodyboard in a death grip.

I told Avery, to stay at the chair as I took off my shirt and ran to the edge of the water, still not sure if they needed help or were playing. As I got closer to them I noticed it was more grim than I thought as they were being pummeled by the waves and there now included a dad trying to help his two young sons. He stared at me, begging me to help him.

Jumping to the point, I was able to help 5 of the folks out of the surf and 3 of them were able to self rescue. As we made our way in, 2 lifeguard trucks rolled up, but missed the excitement. There were also about 20 people at the water’s edge and another 100 that were oblivious to what had just happened. No one came to help me.

It got me thinking how easy it is between set waves…to slowly drift into positions where there is danger. Things can seem normal, even serene, until we find ourselves over our heads. We need help minimally and maybe need rescue.

It’s probably generalizing, but having been involved in university ministry for 20 years I’ve seen students sent to college like they’ve reached some invisible finish line. Lots of input and investment in their lives for the previous 18 years, yet now they are sent into the world with a hope that the foundation has been set. “What else can we do?” There can be the unintended message, “I’ve done my part, now you’re on your own.” There is hope that they will stay connected to the faith or values they grew up with. A hope that as they face the next few years…years that are foundational…years that include incredibly critical decisions…they will have the resources or communities to help them make great choices. Often though, they are alone. Culture, like a riptide, starts to tug. Starts to pull. Soon, firm footing is gone. They are drifting. Clutching onto anything for life, unable to yell for help. Embarrassed about where they’ve come. Fear of where they will end up.

Wendy and I have a passion to see folks reorient and live life on track with how they are created. Twentysomethings are changing the world and we are excited to connect with more of them; to hear their stories and encourage new steps of faith. Nobody intends to drift.

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Silent Night

I never seem to get my thoughts into words enough on this blog. But, with the holidays now here, I’ve been chewing on what it must have been like for those shepherds on their hill as an angel appeared…then loads of angels. Terrifying and amazing all at once.

I don’t know what it would have felt like, but I do know when I’m losing sleep in my own silent dark night, it can feel pretty lonely. “Does anyone care?” “I can’t really share this with,_________, they’ll think I’m a freak.” “If they only knew what was really going on….” I can live life hiding out in my dark and silent nights.

So, to have the light enter in can be freaky. To have someone really love ME. But, I’m scared and excited at the same time. To be seen and oved…still cared for, is what my heart longs for.

I don’t know where you stand with who Jesus is in history, but I do pray that during this time of year…and any day for that matter…that you experience hope and love. And I am excited that for me at least, celebrating the birth of Jesus is celebrating a God who pursues me and knows me…and meets me in my silent night.Image

Dream Big

I know that much of the time, my dreams can be pretty small: please let my kids eat more vegetables, please let my kids not be so loud; or if I’m feeling daring… ‘what would I do if I won the Lottery’? These aren’t very ‘eternal’ dreams. They are fairly lame on the Dream-meter. But, I like that God wants us to dream big…and he enjoys blowing us away.

If you’re like me, sometimes your life can get in a rut. It just kinda limps along and you may not be sure you’re even making progress.

I enjoy Luke 5, cause it seems like Peter’s life is just in cruise mode. Fish a lot. Hope to make enough to keep fishing. Nothing too exciting.

Then Jesus comes into the picture and asks Simon [Peter] for help. Basically, ‘can I use your boat to help me teach?’

When he’s done teaching, he asks Simon to go deeper and fish. We see Simon say out loud what he was thinking… ‘Master, we worked hard all night and didn’t catch a thing.’

Basically, ‘Look, I’m not new. This is a horrible time to fish, I’m tired and I’ve done all I can.’

Reading on, we see that Simon does indeed put his nets out and he’s blown away with more fish than he’s ever caught…and two boats are full; almost sinking.

You may know this story already. But, I like it. It reminds me that God has more in store for me than I can imagine. God is gonna blow me away.

Also, I don’t have to initially even be that into it…I need very little ‘belief’ to be obedient.

I don’t know where I give up on my dreams [or where you might give up on yours]…usually at times when I’m weary…feeling like I’ve done all I can. But, I know that God cares about me, wants to include me and enjoys my boat full and sinking.

Dad, I’m scared.

I was recently at a Scout camp with my son. Late that first night…as I was deep in sleep and probably drooling…I felt some pressure on my shoulder and woke up. My son let me know that he needed to go the bathroom. Now, I can be a grump when I’m tired and hibernating, so he was pretty cautious. But, he clarified that he needed me cause, ‘Dad, I’m scared.’

So, we shrugged into our jackets, slipped our feet into untied shoes and grabbed a flashlight. I told him that he couldn’t see everything, but he only needed to keep the light in front of him to know where he was going.

We found the bathroom, he did his business and we walked back, got warm again and went to sleep.

I remember laying there thinking that it IS scary when you can’t see what’s in front of you. Night can be freaky, but at least we had a flashlight to partially bring comfort. It’s cool how light does that. And day brings all kinds of clarity as you can now see that there wasn’t really anything too freaky. That the monster was really just a weird tree.

1 Corinthians 13, which is the famous LOVE chapter, says this in verses 11-12; “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

I like that. As kids our minds can go crazy with fear. It can immobilize us at times. Our reasoning isn’t that good.

My son has also been asking why we are going to Australia. ‘Why do we need to go there and talk about God, when there are lots of people here?’ It’s hard to argue with that. I tell him that there are fewer opportunities for the people there to hear compared to here.

But, that doesn’t really help him. I know he’s a bit scared and I am too. But, we can only see things dimly at this point. It’s like only having a flashlight, when we’d rather have the sun up. Jesus calls himself the Light of the world and he seems that way to me…at least when I don’t forget to bring him so to speak. He’s brought more clarity and vistas into my life. I’m starting to know more, reason better and it’s comforting to realize that I’m fully known.

I also like that these 2 verses are surrounded by verses about love. That’s what is really important and I know that is what is ultimately important to my son. To be known and loved well.

 

“I’m not sure this is a good idea.”

We recently told our kids that we have been accepted to go to Australia for 2 years with our jobs. It didn’t go bad, but it didn’t go easy either. I know both Wendy and I realized how much this decision would affect our kids and the rest of our families. Maybe for the first time, I realized that my ‘calling’ would really impact others.

This isn’t my kids’ calling or our families calling. Yet it will impact them…we hope positively, but for the short term I know it seems negative. There is loss. There is grieving and mourning. There will be disconnect as we ready ourselves and then literally go to the other side of the planet.

Our hope and prayer is that Australia will be a high-point in our families history. A time of risk, adventure and growth that wouldn’t happen staying at home. But, my son’s quote [see title] feels heavy to me.

How do I communicate with him that this is decision comes from a deep place to me? I feel created…almost uniquely for this opportunity and so does Wendy.

Just staying at home…. I can remember growing up and almost nothing good seemed to happen if I just stayed at home. The adventure was always out, always with friends, always. That’s kind of what this opportunity seems like to me now. Some of those times when I was younger came with the caveat, that ‘this might not be a good idea’. But, when it was over, seemed like the best idea ever.

Thanks for reading, and please consider subscribing…as the Menig’s prepare for life away from home

Veruca Salt missionary

“I want it NOOOWWW, Daddy!” I don’t know if you have even seen Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, but Veruca Salt is an all time character in that film. She has the whine down perfectly. So impatient. So rude. So selfish.

I’m starting to realize how often in my life, sadly, I live like Veruca. I’m impatient with what God is doing. I want to see things change, and I want it to happen NOW…if not yesterday. Whether it is my own circumstances…our support, our fruitfulness or success. Or, it can be with others…”when will they take the step that is clearly before them?!?” Or, “when will they change?”

I know in the Book of James, in chapter 5, I’m called to be patient. And I know I’ve always thought of patience as a passive trait…kinda wimpy. I need to makes things happen! But, like a farmer waiting for the fruits of his labor, I need to be patient and stop telling God that, “I want it NOW!”

Destino launch at CSUN!

Today was a ‘launch’ day at Cal State Northridge. I love launch days because, like a mission to space, there is a lot of prep that goes into them…and a lot of hope. There are months of prayers, visits to find the best places to set up tables, fliers made, ads put on Facebook, training of volunteers, etc….

Then the day arrives and there is always the hope and prayer that we will find and raise up students who have a desire to lead…or at least be trained and coached to lead. And then, if we find enough students we will have a brand new contextualized ministry to students who weren’t being reached or loved on before we stepped on campus.

I hope we remember to update you on all our future launch days; who knows, you may just want to join us!

To the world…

Last summer, Wendy and I led some conferences to get teams of students ready to reach the world. It was fun, challenging and humbling to be part of something like that.

Right now, the leaders of this years teams are meeting in Denver to dream, train and plan what they will do on campuses around the world this summer. Please join us in praying for them…and that God would do great things in and through them.

Surviving College With Your Faith: Final bits….

I have obviously been on a bit of hiatus. Sorry. Here is the last bit of the article titled Sink or Swim by Ryan Moore. I hope it has been helpful.

Set a precedent

Determine where you stand early and often. I’m passionate about meat, bread and potatoes. On the other hand, I’m adamant about not eating anything green. I’m sorry, I just can’t get myself to put anything green in my mouth—I’m not going to do it. Because I set that precedent early on with my friends and family, no one ever expects me to eat broccoli, green beans or lettuce. When eating at someone else’s house, they don’t even bother preparing a salad for me because they know I won’t eat it. Similarly, if you take a stand early against immorality, people will eventually not even bother to ask if you want to participate. You don’t need to be overbearing, but you need to be honest. When you have an opportunity to talk about your relationship with God, do so with grace and peace. Once you explain where you stand spiritually, you make yourself accountable to everyone else. Set these precedents early.

Find a church home

I remember walking into a Starbucks for the very first time on my own to order a drink. My wife, being a Starbucks vet and fluent in the lingo, would always order for me. This time, however, I stood alone before a bunch of completely foreign words and had no idea what to choose. The person in front of me ordered a Caramel Frappucino so I decided to do the same. I quickly realized it was completely different from what my wife always ordered for me. I hesitated to even try it because it was so unusual to me. After the first sip, though, I knew this was my new all-time favorite drink. Finding a new church is somewhat similar to my Starbucks experience. Most likely, your parents or girlfriend or boyfriend have always chosen a church for you. Once in college, however, you get to decide where you attend. Many college students don’t attend church because they haven’t found the “perfect church.” Rest assured: There is no such thing as the perfect church. I encourage you, in the midst of your church hopping, to eventually settle on the essentials. What are three areas of a church that are non-negotiable for you? This could be biblical depth, worship and community. You don’t need to find the perfect church—you just need to find the best church for you. Remember: A church may seem odd to you, but after your first visit, you may realize it’s the one you’ve been waiting for all along.

My experience of falling into the pool at the age of 4 was traumatizing for me. I wasn’t completely prepared, I didn’t know all the steps and it scared me to death … almost literally. You may be experiencing some similar feelings as you are about to enter college. Or perhaps you feel as confident as Michael Phelps before he enters a pool, but still anxious of how you are going to get to the finish line. I encourage you to realize God is a God of the journey and not just the destination. He is with you every step of the way and does not want to see you drown. God is cheering for you and wants to see you succeed. With that in mind, you don’t need to fall in or even slowly test the waters; you can have the confidence to dive right in.

New Name for Campus Crusade for Christ

Not sure how many people are interested, but a couple nights back the company we work for changed it’s name after 60 years. It was a 2 year process with a lot of activity over the last 12 months to find a name that didn’t carry the baggage of the word “Crusade”, or seem to limit the scope of the mission to the “Campus”.

It was decided that “cru” would represent our organization well. There may be a lot of questions you have, and you can feel free to comment or ask. We will be adding more soon, to help clarify.

I did enjoy this article by a secular company on the name and logo: http://bit.ly/otFrgf

And again, it will serve us well as we continue to go after the mission.