Future of the Church

29 04 2010

Hey guys,

Sorry I didn’t get an email out last week.  I was at a leadership conference in California and had so much to share that I needed some time to process.  This was a conference for next generational leaders in the church and business.  I walked away from this time feeling convicted that we can not stand back and watch others define what the Church will be.  God has called our generation to stand firm on Truth, to hold on to the hope that God has a bigger plan, and to speak up when the Church is heading in the wrong direction.

What will be the future of the Friends church?

Is it simply to maintain unity and tolerate diversity?  Or is there something bigger and more exciting ahead?

What structures need to die in order for God’s work to be done and His Kingdom to reign?

A friend of mine posted this video on her blog about the Missional church and what shifts need to happen within the church to change our focus outward.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arxfLK_sd68&feature=player_embedded

No matter what the Church looks like…one thing is certain.  The Church needs to have its foundation in Jesus Christ!

So this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
       “See, I lay a stone in Zion,
       a tested stone,
       a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
       the one who trusts will never be dismayed.

I will make justice the measuring line
       and righteousness the plumb line;
       hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie,
       and water will overflow your hiding place.

                        Isaiah 28:16-17

What’s next?!  What is God calling us to do in our generations to bring about the future Church?

I know a lot of you are in the midst of the craziness of finals and other life stuff.  We are excited about our upcoming College Camp at Quaker Haven in May and we want to make sure you all have a chance to come.  Registrations are for this camp are due ASAP and the fee gets more expensive after May 1st.  Since this is probably the last thing on your mind right now, we wanted to extend the registration deadline to May 10th.  So get your registrations in.  Its only $60 until May 10th, after that its $75.  Let me know if you’ve got any questions.

Have a great week!

To the King!

Katy

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Justice For Such A Time As This!

15 04 2010

Hey guys,

I wanted to share with you some thoughts about justice and how deeply our God cares about those who need justice on their behalf.  I pray as you are finishing up your semesters and getting ready for summer plans that you can keep in mind that God has called us to be His people of justice and that you can pray for clear purpose in bringing His justice into a broken and hurting world.

 For Such a Time as This

by Amber Van Schooneveld

Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”  I said, “Here I am. Send me.”  Isa. 6:8

Olive

Olive is a beautiful woman, with skin like dark coffee and eyes that flash. She is my age, born in the same year, and for some reason this makes me feel a strong connec­tion – as a kid I might have played Hide and Seek in the street with her or sat next to her in math. Olive speaks of her life growing up in Uganda. I’ve heard statistics of poverty before, but those were faceless – they didn’t have Olive’s eyes or her white smile. The statistics are like annoying pebbles the news pelts me with. They fall to the ground and are forgotten.

Olive is different. She isn’t one of the annoying numbers I’m bombarded with. She speaks of her life when she was 6.  I think to myself, What was I doing at 6? First day of kindergarten with my new pink backpack and Mary Jane shoes. Pictures were taken, friends were made, cookies were gobbled. Your basic Leave It to Beaver episode. But at the same time I posed for pictures in my Mary Janes, rebels were spilling over Uganda’s borders. Olive and her family lived in a small village. Someone ran, yelling that the rebels were coming. It was every man for himself. All dashed to the bushes and hid. The rebels swept through the village, killing those they found and burning huts on the way. Fleeing danger then became a regular occurrence for Olive. From the age of 6 to the age of 8, while I was eating Cheerios and watching Sesame Street, she was crouching in bushes, hoping not to be found and killed or, perhaps worse, forced to become a soldier’s bride.

Next scene: 13 years old. I hated 13 – I didn’t make friends easily, and I was made fun of at school because my parents had bought me a leather skirt instead of a suede skirt, which was a must-have. But I was loved and safe and fed, embarrassing leather skirt and all. At 13, Olive had moved to the city with her mother where unrest wasn’t knocking on the door each night. But Olive’s mother had become ill. She was weak and getting weaker. One day Olive came home to bring her mother oranges. She was sleeping. Olive shook her. She didn’t stir. Olive shook and shook, but her mom never woke up. Olive was an AIDS orphan at 13. Fifteen years later, telling the story, she holds her head in her hands as tears drip from her chin and her shoulders shake. This is no statistic; this is a daughter, just like me. This isn’t a number that fell to the ground and was forgotten; this is 15 years of pain. This is a daughter who lost her mother too soon … while I was wishing my mom understood fashion trends better.

Without parents, Olive moved to a little house with seven of her cousins – all of whom had been orphaned. They slept stacked in different rooms. Olive slept in the kitchen with her sister. They scrounged for food. They took care of each other. They got by. The end of Olive’s story is a happy one. Through a relief and development program, she had enough food to eat. She had enough money to pay for school fees. She got treatment when she had tuberculosis. She learned about the love of God and that he has a plan for her. And now she is a proud, tall woman with a master’s degree in social work, helping children with disabilities. She isn’t a number. She’s a story of hope. She’s a daughter. She’s a friend. She’s a treasure of God.

I’m Convinced

The pesky facts of poverty can bounce off of me. It’s all so far away, the numbers are so big that they are just too much to digest (how many is a billion anyway?), and it’s so much easier to just close my mind and move on. But then I think of Olive … and I’m convinced. I can’t stand passively by anymore. That could have been me. That could have been my sister, who has her same flashing eyes. I can scarcely comprehend a life in which my sister and I would have to regularly run from men who are trying to kill us. But at 6, that could have been us; instead, it was Olive. At 13, it could have been me shaking my mother who never woke up. It was Olive. It could have been my cousins­ Sarah, Katie, Greg, Tim, Tara, Chris, Kim – living with nothing and with no one to care for us. It was Olive and her cousins. I told my mom this story, and she trembled. It could have been her baby, her sweet little 6-year-old with a pink backpack and Mary Janes.

I’m convinced because those in poverty, the Olives, are just like me. I saw her. I looked into her eyes. A thin, thin line separates me from her. I’m convinced because I know God loves those I’d kind of like to forget. I’ve read the verses. I know the poor have a special place in God’s heart. I know Jesus is somehow close to them, in them. I know that he wants me to free the oppressed, feed the hungry, and clothe the naked.

Ok, God I’m convinced…What do you want from me?

Such a Time

I could have just as easily been born in Uganda, running from rebels as a tot. But God chose differently. God “determined the times set for [men] and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27). God had a reason for placing me exactly when and where he did, as the daughter of a middle-class chiropractor in Aurora, Colorado. It might seem pretty random, but it was not.

Not only that, God also prepared particular good works for me: “We are God’s work­manship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). God has been planning and planning … placing me just so, giving me exactly what he has, that I might find him and that I might do the good he has prepared in advance for me. What exactly that is, I’m not sure yet. But I’m convinced there’s something.

I think of Esther in the Bible. She was beautiful and charming and became a queen because of those qualities. She might have lain back, eaten grapes, and gotten shoulder rubs every day. I’d like that. But Esther chose to believe her uncle when he said, “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). “Such a time as this.” Esther’s husband, King Xerxes, had ordered a genocide of the Jews. Esther could have chosen to shut out the troubles of the world, stay quietly at home, and enjoy her very pleasant life. Instead, she used her position of power to speak up for the oppressed, risking not only her comfort, but her own life.

Could it be that God has placed me in a position of comfort and material power for such a time as this? A lack of clean water is killing almost 2 million people a year, 15.2 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS, 1 billion people live in extreme poverty, and 1 million children are trafficked into exploitive labor each year. If ever there was “such a time” – a time that needs God’s redemption, healing, and love – this is it.

I’m definitely not a savior of the world. Esther 4:14 says, “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance … will arise from another place.” That’s a relief – because it’s not about me. It seems God is on the move, always on the move, ready to raise up relief and deliverance, people who will go for him, who will be his hands. And maybe, just maybe, I am a part of that plan. Maybe God has given me what he has and put me where he has for just such a time as this.

God on the Move

There is a lot going wrong in this world. I can’t change everything. But I’m learning that God hasn’t asked me to. I think there may be one little piece of the puzzle he’s asking me to fill in, one good work he’s asking me to do. Maybe when I’m working on my little piece and my friend is working on her little piece next to me and some church in Massachusetts is working on its piece and some Christians in Rwanda are working on their piece … maybe then God’s great masterpiece will be revealed. My piece may seem small, as if it doesn’t matter, but I’m just one part of the body of Christ. God is on the move to change this world one person at a time. Olive was one small person who was loved by someone. It mattered to Olive. If Olive’s mother had known, it would have mattered greatly to her. And now it matters to the children Olive is helping. What if I could be a part of something like that?

I’m convinced God is asking me to join him. God is on the move to heal, love, and restore, and he’s asking, “Who will go for me?”

Who knows what God will do?

My heart cries out, “Here I am, send me.”

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Luke 12:48b

What part is God asking you to play?  Why has He placed you here for such a time as this?  How can you be a part of bringing His justice and love to this world?

Praying for you!  Have a wonderful weekend!

To the King!

Katy





Importance of Doctrine

8 04 2010

Hey guys,

So I’ve been knee-deep in summer camp planning this week trying to get details ironed out and curriculum written, and counselors lined up.  It’s a fun process and builds the anticipation for a great summer seeing God work through His children up at Quaker Haven.  I know many of you have wonderful memories of your time as a camper up at Quaker Haven.  It’s a special place, a place that God has worked through many generations.

Think about how formative some of those early experiences with God were in your life.

Sunday School

Children’s Church

Vacation Bible School

Summer Camps

After-School programs

AWANA/Pioneer clubs

Mission Trips

Whatever it was, those were times that you spent learning about God.  Times of laying down a foundation for your faith.  There comes a time in your life, usually during your college years, when you have the choice to take that faith you learned as a child and make it your own.  Not the faith of your parents or your church, but a personal intimate relationship that you have with your Heavenly Father.  But if you think about it….that relationship wouldn’t be the same without that foundation you built on as a child.

The Church is currently at an interesting place in history.  We are seeing a shift away from foundational truths, or doctrine, or theology (whatever you want to call it) and a focus more on individual experience and relative truth.  We, as Quakers, value the experience individuals have with the Holy Spirit, but without the context of Truth, doctrine/ theology, and Scripture, that experience can flounder in a borderless realm of feel-good statements and watered down platitudes.

Last month’s issue of the Christianity Today magazine had a wonderful article by Darren Marks called The Mind Under Grace; Why Theology is an Essential Nutrient for Spiritual Formation.  I wanted to share some if with you guys…

Doctrine.  The word conjures in the modern mind a string of negative images: The Inquisition.  Boring professors debating the number of angels on the head of a pin.  Bloggers arguing endlessly while the church flags in relevance in the once-Christian West.  Doctrine is a bludgeon, a curiosity, a rearranging of the deck chairs while the ship sinks.  Vibrant Christians want little to do with it, and instead focus on spiritual disciplines, works of mercy, and authentic Christian living.  Doctrine belongs to the past, when it was used mainly to divide believers…But we have to ask: Is it possible to live out discipleship without  a good measure of heady doctrine?  I see doctrine not as a boundary but as a compass.  Its purpose is not to make Christians relevant or distinctive but rather to make then faithful in their contexts.  Doctrine is a way of articulating what God’s presence in the church and the world looks like.  It can orient us by helping us…major in the majors.

In addition, I believe the crisis of the Western church is not about information itself but about the kind of information we absorb in our churches.  Philosopher James K. A. Smith put it best: “Theology is not some intellectual option that makes us ‘smart’ Christians; it is the graced understanding that makes us faithful disciples”

I’m using the terms doctrine and theology interchangeably.  To be exact, doctrine is more or less settled theology…Doctrine is wisdom that helps us clarify our mission.  Yet we seem decidedly uninterested in such wisdom today, both inside and outside the church…Many complain that the church has become incapable of cultivating Christian habits in its people.  No wonder, when for so many the starting point is not God but spiritual experience.  How can we sustain any spiritual growth if it is grounded in something as transitory as what we feel, individually or corporately?  The decreasing lack of interest in core Christian beliefs is due in part to church leaders who chase after relevance over substance – focusing on the feeling that something is meaningful rather than the truth that something is meaningful.  It is also due to church members who imagine that their experience is the touchstone of truth about God, rather than learning to evaluate their experience in light of Scripture and theology.  Over the years, I have found that the students in my classroom grow in understanding by studying “dusty” and “dry doctrine.  They learn to interrogate their experiences, asking how they may find a “theological experience” or mission.

We, as Quakers, are not opposed to doctrine, as many would claim we are.  Basic Christian doctrine has been the basis of our faith since the very beginning.  In fact, Robert Barclay wrote this in his work Anarchy of the Ranters:

Where a people are gathered together into the belief of the principles of the doctrines of the gospel of Christ, if any of that people shall go from their principles, and assert things false and contrary to what they have already received; such as stand and abide firm in the faith, have power, by the Spirit of God; after they have used Christian endeavors to convince and reclaim them, upon their obstinacy, to separate from such and to exclude them from their spiritual fellowship and communion.  For otherwise, if this be denied, farewell to all Christianity, or to the maintaining of and sound doctrines in the Church of Christ.

So as you are thinking about how your faith has been formed, take some time to think about how important those flannel-board Sunday school lessons or VeggieTales videos were to who you are now in your faith.  How those simple Truths shaped you.  And may you remember to fall in love with the teachings of your youth, that Jesus Christ came and died for you on a cross, and that through His death you may experience freedom and joy.

Plan to revisit Quaker Haven this May with our College Camp.  A great chance for you to reconnect and recharge.  Only $60!

To the King!

Katy





Easter Freedom

1 04 2010

Hey guys,

Well spring has sprung, and with 80 degree temps I’m not complaining at all.  You can’t help but find joy in the resurrection of life after the dead winter.  And as we head into this Easter weekend it couldn’t be more appropriate to celebrate the resurrection of creation and of our Savior. 

One awesome announcement I want to make: 

 College Camp 2010!

A time up at Quaker Haven camp for those of you who have graduated from high school and can no longer attend camp as a camper.  The purpose of this camp is to offer a weekend at camp for young adults to worship, play, fellowship, and grow closer to the Lord while exploring the themes of God’s sufficiency and purpose for our lives.  Here are the details:

Who: College Students & Young Adults (High School Graduates-30yrs)

When: May 21-23, 2010

Where: Quaker Haven Camp

Cost: $60 (after May 1st $75)

In order to encourage folks to be a part of our Connections gatherings as well as attend this camp we are offering a $10 discount to those who have attended at least on of our Connections gatherings.  The next Connections gathering is April 25th for those who are interested in being a part of that community.

Plan to attend now!  Brochure is attached.  Let me know if you’ve got questions.

Here’s some Easter thoughts from Mariya Jones:

Excerpt from an e-mail, that was taken from a newspaper printed near Luke Air Force Base in Arizona .
The complaint:   
‘Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base:   
Whom do we thank for the morning air show? Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 A.M, a
tight formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet. Imagine our good fortune!  Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns early bird special?  Any response would be appreciated.

The response:   
Regarding ‘A wake-up call from Luke’s jets’ On June 15, at precisely 9:12 a.m . , a
perfectly timed four- ship fly by of F-16s from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt. Jeremy Fresques. Capt Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq  on May 30, Memorial Day.  At   9 a.m.  on June 15 , his family and friends gathered at   Sunland   Memorial Park   in   Sun City   to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend.. Based on the letter writer’s recount of the fly by, and because of the jet noise, I’m sure you didn’t hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son’s flag on behalf of the President of the United States and all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the sacrifices they have endured.  A four-ship fly by is a display of respect the Air Force gives to those who give their lives in defense of freedom. We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June 15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay their ultimate respects.  The letter writer asks, ‘Whom do we thank for the morning air show? The 56th Fighter Wing will make the call for you, and forward   your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt Fresques, and thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the most honorable formation of their lives.  Only 2 defining forces have ever offered to die for you…. Jesus Christ and the American Soldier.  One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.  
Lt. Col. Grant L. Rosensteel, Jr.

This was one of those chain e-mails that my father just can’t resist passing on. I usually delete them and don’t give it a second thought, but this one stood out. A story like this just can’t be made up and it stuck out since it is Easter time. It is so easy for us to forget how much was sacrificed and this holiday is supposed to represent that. Lately, I have been hearing people talk about how unimportant this holiday is or that it’s not as major as other holidays. I think Easter has been made this way because people have forgotten the sacrifice our Savior made for us all. 

Independence Day in America has also become different. We are celebrating our freedom and all those who helped us become free. Today, people use the 4th of July as an excuse to party and set off as many fireworks as possible. Maybe people celebrated this way in the early days of this holiday, but it has definitely evolved since then. People are quick to forget the lives given on these holidays to free us. Galatians 5:13:

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”

God calls us to use our freedom wisely. He paid a high price for our freedom, but our sinful, human nature tends to make us want to use it for our pleasure and not to glorify God. We don’t act grateful to God for the great gift He gave us when we downplay this awesome holiday and act like it’s all about the bunnies and chocolate. These things are fun, but Jesus Christ paid the ultimate charge for the thing He loved the most: you! Don’t you want to glorify him and in some way say thank you for that? Maybe we should do like Paul said and “….serve one another in love.”

I hope you have a wonderful Easter celebration this weekend full of the reality of the resurrection and the appreciation of the freedom you personally have experienced through Jesus Christ.

Blessings!

To the King!

Katy

College Camp ’10 Brochure