From the monthly archives: April 2013

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God on Display: A Taste-and-see Kind of Sunday


It’s hard to find the appropriate sequence of words to describe the scene at Summitview yesterday. How would you describe it? What words would you use? I went from tears and throat lumps to laughing out loud in an instant – on multiple occasions. How do you describe that?

I don’t know. In Deuteronomy 3:24, Moses writes, “O Lord LORD, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours?” Moses, it seems, was also at a loss for words when the nearness and bigness of God is on display.

So, what can we say about a day that goes beyond language? We experienced something yesterday, Summitview. And it wasn’t our awesomeness that we experienced (though the BBQ was that); it was God’s awesomeness. The wonder of the Spirit’s movement in our midst is stirring, and we were stirred yesterday. The range of human emotion you felt yesterday is a testament to the empathy and the relationship-centricity of our Savior. It was a sweet, sweet foretaste of a heaven that puts the best tastes of our earth to shame.

And that’s saying something. Because raising $84,000 for our Missions Fund tastes really good.

Because recognizing Travis Swan as a pastor in a standing-room-only gym tastes really good.

Because singing our hearts out in an auditorium full of saints and family members tastes really good.

Because listening to members of our family share their struggles and salvation stories and how God is in the middle of it all tastes really good.

Because that pulled pork was really good.

Because your service – all those hours of service that Pastor Mitch highlighted – tastes really good.

Because a celebration like that makes me hungrier for more.

And, really, that’s what a good celebration should do. It should cause us, like it did Moses in Deuteronomy 3:25, to hunger for much, much more of “that good hill country.”

Thanks, Summitview. It’s a blessing to be the church with you.


(Photo credit: Jon Thompson)

No Man Is an Island: A Recap of "Man to Man"


No man is an island,
Entire of himself.
John Donne


"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:13)

Death may not have the victory but it does have its say. Moses asked God to teach him "to number his days so he might gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:1-12). To be wise, we must know our limits. Our limit, simply stated, is that we are not self-sufficient. We do not have the personal resources to achieve eternal perpetual motion. And, sometimes, it is easy to feel we don't have the resources for any motion at all.

Yet men are called to be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13) and to use that strength to bring value and life to the world around us. Every man lives with this problem: "The world around me needs strength that I do not have." 

Men are continually gnawed by that impossibility. But the impossibility has its merits. It moves humble men to seek an external source of strength and it smashes proud men until they are humble. 

The proud man isn't necessarily cocky, he's just deluded. Like a modern prospector standing in Spring Creek panning for gold, the proud man pans for strength within himself. Whatever he finds will be minimal at best, if anything at all – and it will run out. His demise is a tragic scene. With his world in disarray and his soul and body withering away, the proud man continues his droning mantra:

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley


Thankfully, this is not the only way. God gives grace to the humble. To the one who wisely recognizes his limits and upward cries "Help!", God graciously gives strength. This arrives through his Spirit and his Spirit uses many means. One of those means is other men. Men are strengthened by every "Once more unto the breach, dear friends" and crushed by every "Et tu, Brute?" Therefore, the effect of our lives depends, in part, on how we relate to one another as men.

This year's Spring Training for Men focused on those relationships. In "Man-to-Man," we examined the lives of men throughout the Bible to see how masculine relationships bring strength through encouragement, training, teaming, sharpening and commissioning.

As we considered David and Jonathan, Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Timothy, Paul and Peter and Moses and Joshua, one thing became clear: Men bring strength to other men by revealing the other necessary component of wisdom, namely, the fear of the Lord (Psalm 111:10).  Our relationships point to God who is the Alpha and Omega, the only self-sufficient one. We can be strong because God is with us. 

The proud man foolishly lives as his own Alpha and Omega. His strength is sapped bearing that weight. Godly friends and mentors protect him from that and encourage him to see God who does the heavy lifting. Only in this understanding does a man become strong. It is the Christian paradox: life via death and strength via weakness. The man who seeks his own glory finds death, but the man who does all things to the glory of God finds life and strength.

The world tells us in a thousand different ways that the bigger we become, the freer we will be. The richer, the more beautiful, and the more powerful we grow, the more security, liberty, and happiness we will experience. And yet, the gospel tells us just the opposite, that the smaller we become, the freer we will be. This may sound at first like bad news, but as we will see, it could not be better news!
Tullian Tchividjian, Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free


We began this year’s Spring Training with a video that serves as an excellent popular example of this. Listen for the subtle (and certainly imperfect) ways each man calls the other to be small and yet acts as a representative of God's strength-infusing words: "I am with you."


Men, don't be that prospector. Look to the hills: Where does your help come from? The LORD, your maker, and he is sending his voice through the men around you. Find them. Commit to them. And may God's Spirit inhabit our relationships and graciously give us the courage and strength to be the backbone of his church and her mission in the world.

Marriage Lessons: "Do With"


Early in my marriage, my mom told me something profound: “Make sure you do things with your husband that he’s interested in.” My dad is interested and talented in a multitude of ways, so that’s a tall order, but her advice has served as an incredible reminder for my own marriage.

You see, my husband is a public school teacher (and a particularly good one, in my opinion), a coach (cross country and track and field), an avid runner and interested in far more sports than I am.

At some point early on, however, I decided that what was important to him was going to be important to me. 

This makes and keeps life interesting. I’ve learned students’ names; I’ve sorted papers into alphabetical piles by assignment (mostly because I’m an organizational nutcase, but also because it’s useful); I’ve attended meetings and dances (hello, prom!) and met parents; I’ve watched kids run races on dirt and laps on tracks; and I’ve stood on the side of the road with bananas and a camera, waiting for him to run by so I could encourage him as he started his next mile on a race.

But with my learning curve of school politics and which types of running shoes are best for what types of feet, I’ve found that my willingness to do these things with my husband has given us a common mission field. I have the ability to pray for individuals he comes into contact with by name. Out of my interactions with parents, I’m often asked to pray for things they’re working with their kids on and for decisions they’re making. 

Engaging in these things is not naturally my first choice, but it’s not exactly torturous, either. Most days, it means I slather myself in sunscreen (pale Scandinavian skin being what it is), grab a camera, and sit around reading a book or academic article on the sidelines between races (because that’s more my speed). I’ve learned a lot about running, being flexible and engaging with my husband in the places God has put him.

Most importantly, though, I’ve learned how to pray for and encourage my husband in his daily life. I see the to-be-graded pile when it is much, much larger than the graded pile. I run alongside him when he runs from point to point to get mile split times and encourage his runners. I’ve met his coworkers and I know which ones he’s praying to have more meaningful conversations with. I get the blessing of hearing parents, students and teachers alike tell stories of how he has made an impact. I get to rejoice with him when students finally get the grade he knows they should and when they shave that extra five seconds off of their race times. If there’s a landmark accomplishment, I often celebrate his victory by buying gummi bears. His life is not foreign to me.

It would be easy to look at our lives and simply say that for 50-60 hours each week, they just don’t intersect because my husband spends his life at a high school in another town – but I don’t want to accept that. 

I want to be a wife with my husband. I want to do with him. And that sometimes requires sacrifice.

It means that I rearrange my workweek in order to go be at a meet. It means that, should God will that we have children someday, I’ll be there with one strapped to my back, cheering him on. It means I take vacation days and fly to Phoenix to watch him run his first marathon (not that much convincing is actually needed for that). It means I give up Saturdays and evenings at home. It means our lives are busier. It means we spend more on gas some months. 

But it’s worth it, and I’m so very grateful for my mother’s simple admonition to do with



(Photo credit: Flickr/Christopher Sessums)

The Double Black Diamond of Missionary Work


When I was 12-years-old, I began learning how to ski. As many of you know, the first day of skiing is basically miserable, but somewhere during the second and third times the experience progresses to tolerable and then enjoyable.

After my third time, I was beginning to feel reasonably comfortable and really looking forward to my next trip up the mountain. But it was then that I made a serious mistake. I went skiing with an expert skier friend of mine who had no ability to identify with a novice like myself. This “friend” took me on trails I had no business laying eyes upon. I vividly remember one run I didn’t ski down so much as I somersaulted. During my tumbling routine, one ski popped off and smacked me in the face, breaking both my goggles and my nose. That day I learned a valuable lesson: After mastering a green, you don’t go straight to a double black diamond. It’s better to have at least a blue run in between.
 
In the Great Commission, Jesus gave us a mission that sometimes requires double-black-diamond kinds of undertakings. When he says to make disciples of all nations, he really meant all nations, even the tough ones. Most foreign missionaries are nearly overwhelmed by the challenges they experience in a new culture. Simply trying to buy groceries can require enormous faith and endurance.

Many of us, though, approach overseas missions with naïve romanticism. We may have had a fantastic experience participating in a short-term mission trip and are therefore ready to sell everything and move to the other side of the world. The problem is that going from a short-term mission trip to long-term missionary work is a lot like going from a green run to a double black diamond: You’re likely to take some big tumbles and hurt yourself. With that in mind, one of our goals as a church is to build intermediate steps towards long-term, overseas mission work.
 
Part of the money raised through our Missions Fund campaign this year will go towards helping to support participants in the Asia Cross-Cultural Training (ACT) Program. This new (and hopefully ongoing) program is launching this fall. The idea is to have a small team of people spend the entire academic year in an Asian country studying the language, learning the culture and assisting some of the long-term missionaries we have relationships with. In time, we hope there can be a large pool of people in our church that are semi-fluent in the language, familiar with the culture and have realistic expectations of long-term missions work. Not only that, but upon their return, many of the ACT participants could be an invaluable resource for our International Student Ministry here in Fort Collins.

We currently have a team of six young men and women in this year’s program. Over the next several months, they will be preparing to leave their lives here and fly across the ocean to enter language school in September. For the fall semester, they will be taking language courses and helping to support our missionary connections in a large Asian city. For the spring semester, they will move to a different city, continue studying the language and support a native church with which we have had an ongoing relationship for the past six years. This next year will take an amazing amount of courage and faith for these six missionaries, but we trust that God will build and strengthen them in profound ways and that in years to come, they will be well-equipped to take the gospel to difficult places. Join us this Missions Month in helping to build a sustainable bridge across the ocean for ongoing, fruitful missions work.



(Photo credit: Flickr/Greg Younger)

The Week Ahead: Service and Celebration


Attention Summitview: Awesome things are happening this week. Please read the following words (replete with consonants and vowels) to make sure your iCal, Google cal, Franklin Covey day planner, sundial, etc. are properly updated with the happenings, goings on and other goodies for this week.

Wednesday, April 24

This year’s Spring Training for Men’s series, “Man to Man: Recovering the Lost Art of Friendship among Men,” concludes Wednesday morning. This is in the Gym from 6 - 7:30 a.m. All manly types are encouraged to partake.

Friday, April 26

To Have and To Hold is a two-day retreat designed to prepare engaged and newly-married couples for a marriage journey full of beauty, intimacy and adventure.The retreat begins Friday at 6 p.m. at Beggar’s Gate church in Loveland and lasts through Saturday afternoon. For all the details and to register, visit summitview.com/marriage.

Saturday, April 27

This is when things escalate quickly. This is the day when things jump up a notch.

First off, we have two High Park Fire seedling projects scheduled from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Summitview is the sponsoring organization of these work crews and we’d love to have your help. All the details are on our High Park Fire page: summitview.com/highparkfire. This would be a great service opportunity for your family or D-Team.

Speaking of service opportunities, Summitview is responsible for staffing the chapel service at the Fort Collins Rescue Mission on the fourth Saturday of every month this year. There are still some openings for this Saturday. Get all the details and sign up at our Service page: summitview.com/community/volunteer.

And there isn’t a better or more fitting way to cap off a day like Saturday than with a couple hours of rousing worship and prayer. Everyone is invited to this extended set of music and missions-focused prayer in the Auditorium beginning at 7 p.m.

Sunday, April 28

Let’s see ... I seem to have forgotten what’s going on here? Anybody know? April 28 ... hmm ... OH YEAH. CELEBRATION SUNDAY.

Sunday is the end of our month-long campaign to raise $70,000 for our Missions Fund. (BTW: Please click the previous link and prayerfully consider what you can give to help us take the gospel all over the globe.) It’s also a day we get to step back and say “Thank you” to God for who is he and what he’s done in our context over the last year. It’s also a chance for us to say “Thank you” to all of you for serving and running this race well. There will be videos. Testimonies. A rousing rendition of “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho.” A BBQ lunch. A new pastor will be recognized.

Did I mention the BBQ lunch?

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