Letter #686: 2016 Election Perspective

Dear perspective on the election,

Full parking lot. Packed auditorium. Unified purpose.

There aren’t many places that fulfill this description. A sporting event or concert would top the list of possible answers. Last week I found a new answer to the above description.

Traveling in Kansas City, I drove into a full parking lot. I didn’t exactly know what I was going to, but when we pulled in I knew it was significant. I piled out of a van and headed inside. Again, I really didn’t know what I was walking into.

Walking in, I was overwhelmed. The auditorium was packed, and the theme of significance inside me echoed louder. I stood stunned, searching for an open space to sit. After gaining my bearings, I made my way through the crowd. Standing in an aisle searching for a seat, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to a woman offering me the seat next to her. I slid in and sat for the next hour of my life. My world was rocked.

You see, the night before my co-workers and I decided to spend an hour of our day in Kansas City at a place where 24/7 prayer has been going on since 1999. 17 years. I was excited for an opportunity to have an hour of time where I was forced to be still, but I didn’t expect what ensued.

I sat in my seat as people from every race, age, economic status and religious affiliation surrounded me. Nobody told me this. Nobody had to. It was more than evident as I scanned the crowd surrounding me. 60-year-old Korean woman, a 35-year-old massive black man with dreads, a 35-year-old white woman with her baby, a 35-year old white man, a 21-year-old black girl and a 70-year-old black woman. These were the people in my direct line of sight. None arrived here together, however, every single one of them were present for the same reason.

I walked into a room filled with 700-800 other people unified with one purpose: To pray for revival in our nation. Not for a particular candidate or even party to win, but to pray for the heart of the American people to turn to God. The prayer gathering isn’t normally this large, in fact it’s normally in a much smaller venue. But people came in droves to pray leading up to maybe the most controversial election in American history.

I thought I was walking into an hour of opportunity to simply be still before the Lord. In reality, I walked into a sea of fellow believers committed to praying boldly for the hearts of the people of our nation to be softened to the things of God. Salvation was boldly prayed for by hundreds.

And as I sat there as a nobody among the sea of believers, I began to weep. As I observed the room, I witnessed unity among believers the way it was intended to be. Every tribe, nation and tongue at an American level represented. There was unity underneath the banner of God, His Word and the saving power of Jesus Christ. And for an hour of my life I believe I had a brief and beautiful glimpse into heaven. Unity-where Christ’s blood brings people together and sends people on mission to share with anyone we encounter.

For an hour of my life I sat and prayed for the salvation of our nation and our world. I didn’t pray for the outcome of an election. I didn’t pray for a party platform. I didn’t pray for equal rights, taxes, healthcare or the Supreme Court. I prayed alongside hundreds of strangers that the finished work of Christ on the cross would be revealed and understood by the people of our nation. And this is what I continue to pray for today.

God “removes and establishes kings” (Dan. 2:21). He is in control and will not be surprised by what happens in the outcome of this election. Where there is great darkness, light is able to shine all the brighter. Regardless of the outcome of tomorrow, Christ follower (and I’m speaking to myself), I am convinced we will have more opportunity than ever to declare truth in our nation’s history. I am also convinced that it will come at a greater cost than ever.

So after two years of news coverage, it’s time to go vote. And vote I shall, but I’ll also be continuing to pray. For my own boldness and confidence to stand firm in my faith as well as for the softening of hard hearts toward the things of God.

To God be the glory because no matter the outcome we have hope in Christ!


Letter #620: I See the Up and Coming…

Dear America,

If you haven’t heard everyone griping about Miley Cyrus’ Build a Bear gone bad twerkfest, then you officially live under a rock. Rather than analyzing the VMAs, Miley’s issues and how you’re absolutely hopeless based on the types of things that were acceptable on MTV Sunday night, I want to tell you about something full of hope. You see, Miley is 20 and this has everyone freaking out about the up and coming generation. But let me tell you what I see up and coming in young adults.

I see the giving up of summer vacations, laziness and lake days to be part of something bigger than self.

I see turning down worldly internships and material gain to spend time doing things that will matter in 50 years.

I see excitement and energy like nothing you’ve ever experienced.

I see the most fun group of people you’ve ever been around.

I see encouragement that can help others gain the confidence they need to believe in themselves.

I see a selflessness contradictory to culture with a desire to navigate how to be different.

I see a willingness to wake up earlier than necessary to spend time in the Bible and prayer before a day begins.

I see teachable hearts longing to have strong work ethic but rarely seeing it demonstrated.

I see passion to create and be part of change.

I see initiative to be the change they want to see.

I see a desire for truth and wisdom to be invested and poured into their lives.

You see, I see things from a different vantage point than the majority of our country. I work at a summer camp where we hire about 1,700 college students a summer to come work with and invest in kids. At camp, 18, 19, 20, 21-year-olds become mom, dad, coach, teacher, counselor, pastor, friend, nurse and so much more to kids that parents have entrusted us with.

All staff
I’m telling you, these people are FUN!

Three weeks ago I walked out of the gates after another summer and upon SEEing the teachability, performance and investment of my staff, I walked away more encouraged than ever. The best part is I wasn’t just encouraged after one summer. Instead, I’m going on my eighth summer of watching hundreds of young adults make their summers about investing in others. And every year, the encouragement’s the same.

Session 1 Girls 4th of July
The 4th of July…America at its finest with these ladies!

These are the difference makers. These are the people I see up and coming. This is why I get excited and passionate about what lies ahead for us.

While public outcry occurred over the performance of a 20-year-old, rather than joining in the outcry I wanted to tell you about some 20-year-olds I know. These are the 20-year-olds who thousands of kids look to as their role models. These are the 20-year-olds who will prayerfully lead our country one day. These are the 20-year-olds I am proud to call my friends.

Rather than being upset about our future after the VMAs, join me in praying for the future. Join me in praying for the faithfulness and steadfastness of the students I told you about. Choose to come alongside this age group and invest in them rather than write them off. They, heck we (I’m not too old yet!), need to see people of faithfulness, work ethic, integrity, faith and aligned priorities. We need you. Be encouraged by this, but be challenged to get out there and invest. Don’t just sit around ranting about how inappropriate and immoral things are. Do something.

Praying for people of all ages to do something and to live out their beliefs actively,

Believer in the up and coming

Letter #177: April Saturdays

Dear readers,

If you’re like me, you’re pretty content living in your easy, safe, American lifestyle. My mind tunnel visions easily about the things happening right before my eyes in Shady B, and every once in a while, I might think big picture America when I see Obama on TV, hear about our national debt or even when I think about where I want to travel within the US. I’d guess most Americans are fairly consumed by individual, everyday life. For me, global picture is very uncommon.

It’s difficult for me to grasp what’s actually happening in Libya. I can’t truly understand the tragedy happening in Japan. Then, there’s places news stations don’t cover, and I rarely, if ever, think about them. I may have a basic understanding of things sometimes, and other times, to be honest, I’m perfectly content in my safe, American bubble that thinking about the global picture would disrupt my state of comfort. Golly, I’m selfish, and I’ve only referenced political and major news stories.

If I’m really honest, I don’t think about the religious state of our world much either. It’s so easy to forget there are billions of other people out there, and sadly many of them don’t know Jesus. Truthfully, many people right here in America don’t either.

With all this being said, for the next four Saturdays, you’re in for a treat. A dear friend of mine, Alissa (click her name for her blog), will be guest posting about her adventures in Nepal where she was a modern day missionary for six months. Just like Paul, she went on three main missionary journeys! She will bring a global perspective I’ve never had. If you remember, I went to a lake house with a bunch of my Institute friends about a month ago. She was there, and after hearing her stories of Nepal I posted this. Her time in Nepal blew my mind, and I asked her to be a guest blogger. She graciously accepted and chose to approach it through four letters, one to her home base, Katmandu, and one to each of her journeys.

Not only were her stories challenging and eye-opening to me, but they were also like listening to an adventure series. She climbed parts of multiple mountains including Everest, lived in a foreign country for six months, had at least seven near death experiences and so much more! I’m looking forward to my April Saturdays, and you should be to…you get to hear from someone besides me 🙂

May our hearts and minds be tilted toward the nations,

Grateful for friends who challenge me and live out the Gospel