Keeping a Promise
I have fallen in love, not only with the people of New England, but with the opportunity to share the hope of knowing Christ as we come alongside people, communities, and churches.
Our recent changes here are exciting because I know the Lord is orchestrating them and we are responding out of obedience. I have an amazing staff who give everything, a Board who trusts me probably more than I’ve earned, and a wife and family who have sacrificed much as I try to lead this ministry through a season of struggle and change.
When I took this position three years ago, little did I know what would need to be done at Monadnock Bible Conference (now MCM) and the leadership that would be required to do it all much like the captain of a ship. Most of the data indicated that our organization was going in the wrong direction, and drastic changes were needed. Especially this past year, the challenges seemed insurmountable from: impending regulations that would have crippled many non-profits and camps, an outdated financial structure that threatened viability and sustainability, and an organization that was not structured for future growth.
Although we made tremendous gains and saw growth all across the board, these challenges were overwhelming. It required some BIG and painful decisions – but also exciting ones, as we turned the ship to align with our mission and goals. Now we’re sailing in the right direction, waiting on the wind.
Steering the ship around came at a cost to me personally and to my family – especially to my amazing wife. In my zest to serve the mission of MCM, I left my wife behind. I am not too proud of that to be honest, but it can happen to the best of us. Changes are required to restore health for my family, and I am okay telling everyone that.
Why do I share these personal things: because life is hard and this is real. I want to keep my promises in all my commitments and I don’t always have it all figured out. But I want to be found faithful to the calling on my life: to follow Christ, to love and lead my family well, and to extend Grace to all.
Andrew Peterson in his song, Dancing in the Minefields, writes;
“We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for”
“That’s what the promise is for…”
God promises throughout Scripture that he is with us and for us. But you can never fully understand the depth of God’s care until those promises are all that you have. Our mettle must be tested to know the depth and breadth of God’s love; in places where we surrender our will to Christ.
The Promise: Romans 5:2-3
“And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
What I love about Jesus and the work of His Holy Spirit in our lives is that He is “producing” things in our lives that we all long for, we just normally don’t like the packaging it comes in – suffering.
The promise is that what God asks us to walk through is not in vain, but for a purpose out of His deep love. It’s the promise that if we choose to join the cast, He will use us to tell an amazing story.
The Role of Surrender
Oswald Chambers writes,
“But we must surrender all pretense that we are anything, and give up all our claims of even being worthy of God’s consideration.
Once we have done that, the Spirit of God will show us what we need to surrender next. Along each step of this process, we will have to give up our claims to our rights to ourselves. Are we willing to surrender our grasp on all that we possess, our desires, and everything else in our lives? Are we ready to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ?”
I didn’t, and I don’t think most people do. I didn’t know then how much I would need to die to my selfish nature in order to love her well. That in creating a holy union with my wife, “I” would need to surrender so that “We” could be created.
And it’s a beautiful illustration of our union with Christ. Christ desires for us to surrender our independence and rebellion to join in union with him.
Story of Impact
The true beauty is really seen when you see life change. One story in particular is when a young man who came to our Winter Camps and Summer Camps began to show some incredible life change. Ultimately, his parents wanted to know more because of the life change they saw in him and they attended our Labor Day Family Camp where dad gave his life to Jesus. It has changed the course of their family not only now, but will have a tremendous impact in generations to come.
Weather the Storm
This has been a very difficult year for me on many levels. It’s not often that a leader is as forthright about the struggles of leading an organization, but I’ve got to be honest: I oftentimes wonder if I’m the right person for this job. I want to tell you that “I’ve got this,” but I don’t.
I hope that doesn’t alarm you too much, because I believe that’s what the promise is for. The promise that God, as I live out my calling, will see the good work he has begun in me through to completion, often at times despite me. And I’m deeply honored to serve him here at MCM.
My prayer is that the recent changes will set this ministry up well for today, and for all who follow – but more importantly that it will bring Glory to God. And although I am not sure how God will use all of this, I do know that God has good things in store for those who love Him.
I also know that in the chapters yet to unfold of my life and of this ministry that God cares deeply about taking our ashes and making them beautiful. He cares deeply that our suffering will produce perseverance, character and hope. How do I know that? Well, that’s what the promise is for when I am totally and fully surrendered to His purposes.
“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans 8:37-39