I grew up on the North eastern plains of Colorado with my parents and my three siblings. Two older sisters and a younger brother all of whom still reside in Colorado. I came to know the Lord at an early age so young I don’t remember the exact date or time but I knew as a young man that I was a sinner in need of a savior and Christ’s sacrifice took care of that for me. When I was eight years old I was finally old enough to attend a small Bible Camp near me call Homestead Bible Camp. Homestead changed my life and while I understand that at eight there wasn’t a lot to change I came to realize what God wanted me to do while at camp. Bob Korthuis asked me at age 12 if I would consider helping him with his summer ministry a chance which I jumped at. Bob and his wife Ellen are two people whom I can only describe as second parents and mentors to me, they came alongside me and gave me opportunities to serve God right there at camp and have become as close to me as family.
In the summer 0f 1992 while sitting around the campfire at camp the speaker that week had pushed us to make our faith real and to resolve to follow him with all our hearts. I knew this message was for me because even though I knew I had made a profession of faith as a child I knew I was not living out that faith except at church and camp.
I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Rev. 3:1b-3
God has called on all of us to make our faith real if we look like we are alive and yet dead then we are zombie Christians and the only people we are fooling is ourselves. Our relationship with Christ cannot just affect our lives on Sundays or days we want it to.
On the Merry-go-round next to the fire I made the resolution to offer my life up to Christ and a moment later an almost audible voice said,
“You’re not done yet, I want more I want not just your life now but I want your future, I want you to serve me for the rest of your life.” So I made the decision seconds after re-dedicating my life to Christ I also told him that my life was his to do with as he pleased wherever He wanted me to go and whatever he wanted me to do I was willing.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss. Phil 3:7-8a
Most might think that this portion of scripture would mirror the conclusion of my decision to follow Christ but quite the opposite. For Paul his life before Christ was a huge success. Paul was a Pharisee and so zealous he sought out to rid the world of what he believed to be a false messiah and His followers. My own mistakes came after my decision to follow Christ but just like Paul it was this time which helped to define who I would become in Christ.
After High school I made the decision to go to Trinity International University in Chicago and for the first time ever someone in our immediate family left the state of Colorado for more than just a vacation. I loved college, I made some friends there whom I will always love and I loved college life unfortunately a bit too much. After the 1st semester of my sophomore year I came home for Christmas not to return to campus as a student for another 14 years. Failing out of college brought me to my knees because I believed God had desired for me to be there and therefore how could He change His mind and ruin my life.
Looking back I now realize how God was going to use this to teach me a very important lessons. Paul’s zealousness was not his problem it was just misplaced and when he turned that energy toward Christ his life was changed forever. God’s mind had not changed for my life but my own failure to take my studies seriously left me a broken humble young man who could no longer rely on his own strengths but had to learn to rely on God alone. This is a lesson God has had to teach me over and over again.
In 1999 I took a job working for an outsourcer of AT&T and quickly succeeded in the secular workplace and while I was making friends I was not effectively sharing my faith nor using the gifts which God had given me to teach and disciple.
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. Phil. 3:8-9
As Christians it is not enough to just identify ourselves with Christ but to “Know Christ”. I can say that I have studied Abraham Lincoln or Peyton Manning but that doesn’t mean I know them. Knowing means having a relationship which goes deeper than just saying hi every other night or so. Paul is calling everything of this world garbage actually his words have the illusion of poop left on the street. He doesn’t say this to degrade the world in which we live but to show the grandeur of a life lived in Christ. My own walk with Christ was at a stand still and need to be kick started and a return to camp is what I needed.
In 2001 while still working for AT&T I had an opportunity to get back out to camp for a week and after just a few hours of being there I found myself on that same merry-go-round and this time wondering what had happened to the past nine years and what I could do to change it.
I went to Bob who was still the director and started the process of becoming a missionary in order to take over the camp and a year later ten years after I had made that promise to God there I was in my first year of directing at Homestead Bible Camp. Two years later while attending a new missionary orientation I met this girl whom I couldn’t get enough of. She bent paper clips with me into strange statues while we were supposed to be listening and she made me laugh like no one before. Unbeknownst to me she was also interested in me but in an effort to not appear too occupied and therefore rude to the rest of the group she tried to sit with and engage in conversation with other missionaries. I however had no problem with ignoring the rest of the class and was not impressed by her always leaving me behind. In her words I followed her like a puppy dog but from my perspective I was just chasing down my new friend who always seemed to be leaving me. This started an amazing friendship and a year later I got to marry my best friend.
Rachel and I have been by each others side ever since. Noah was born in May of 07 and Hannah in October of 08. Rachel and I have been serving the Lord through the ministry at Homestead Bible Camp
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:13b-14
A year after we were married we felt the need to start up a new ministry. God called us to spread the Gospel as the great commission states:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt 28:19-20
The Great Commission begins not with an imperative, a plan, or a strategy for our victory in the world but with the announcement that Christ has conquered SIN and DEATH. See, if we know Christ- really KNOW HIM. If we really get the idea that Christ not just forgave sin but became sin in our place. That Jesus truly didn’t just die on the cross but conquered death. If we truly believe that- than change happens. If there is no change- than we must look at what we truly believe. Because the same power that conquered sin and death is alive in those of us who have trusted in Christ as our Saviour. That power must change our lives! When we truly know Christ then the natural result is to share Him with others.
If we were to fulfill this calling we needed to be reaching out in ways outside the walls of camp. Both of us had been touched by the ministry of Vacation Bible School while growing up and it was our desire to start a ministry which would lead kids toward a relationship with Christ.
This also fulfilled Christ’s last words to the disciples before his ascension:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Seeing the need in the communities of NE Colorado we decided to start up teams which would go out into our own Jerusalem.
This new ministry had dual ministry outcomes because not only were the youth of NE Colorado reached for the gospel but the youth on the teams were directly affected as we had the opportunity to disciple and teach a new group of leaders every year. Quickly this ministry became our most profitable because we were fulfilling the great commission and doing it by raising up youth to teach and lead in exactly the way Jesus taught his disciples.
Five years ago Rachel convinced me I needed to go back to school and finish my degree. I did not know if I ever wanted to do this. I had been such a failure at school, could I change? This is just one more lie which I had continually told myself and allowed Satan to have in my life.
for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Phil 2:13.
I could not in my own power change anything and I had proven that over and over again. However Christ in me is power and it is through his power that on Dec. 13th just three weeks ago I finished my bachelors degree with an A average.
So why are we here? We are here because God told us it was time to move on. Two years ago I came home from a summer of camp and realized while I still loved it my desire to be there for the rest of my life was gone. We prayed and sought council and after a year we felt peace about the idea of moving somewhere else.
God has lead us here- to you. To work with your kids and your young people. God has given us a passion and a love to intentionally disciple youth- teaching them to Know Christ and to make Him known. Our children and young people have a realm of influence. We need to teach them who Jesus really is, the change He wants to do in our lives and send them out to influence the world for Christ.
All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Phil. 3:15-21
It is up to us as leaders, volunteers, adults, parents, teachers, mentors and friends to be the example for others to follow. Our lives are mirrors in which we let the light of Christ shine through. The message of the gospel is offensive to those who do not want to hear it. It’s offensive because it 1) sheds light on our sin and 2)inspires change in our lives. As Paul stated they are living in poop on the street when the grandeur of heaven is within their reach if only they will believe. Are we willing to let them stay in the muck living as “enemies of the cross of Christ” or are we going to share our citizenship? We cannot live our lives as if the sacrifice of Christ means nothing to us a Christians. The relationship which God desires for to have with should compel us toward spreading the word.
We cannot just go through the motions of being a Christian. Christ wants more. He wants all of you. He wants you to know HIM and to make Him known.