Monday, October 6, 2014


Kenneth and I are studying through the book of Matthew together, and last night we finished up the Sermon on the Mount. That is one of the hardest passages in all of Scripture! As we exegeted it, this passage cut me to the heart:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" (7:21-23).

These are not heathens. They're not backsliders. They are heroes of Christian ministry! They confess Jesus as Lord. They did all kinds of great Kingdom work. Yet they didn't do the Father's will. They did all these great things for God, even with God's power, it seems, yet without really knowing or being known by Him. And it pierced me because I have such a repeating history of pressing on with my great works, but really just wanting my own acclaim, my grand agenda. Or thinking I know best. Or have to be the best. I worshiped perfection for far too many years, and saw last night that I still retain so much of the pride that drove me to it, driving me still in the areas where I act as if it's too much to humble myself and listen, to put others above myself.

And so I must revert to the prayer, ruefully given too many times and not enough, for my gracious Father to forgive me, to teach me to love as He loves, to do no more my will but His.

Staff retreat 2014

I've finally got the pictures from the staff retreat, so without further ado, here's the lowdown of our conference: We came from all over; Ray from California, me from Texas, Ken from Minnesota, several from the northeast, Christie from Nigeria, and Gilbert from Zambia (sort of; he had been traveling all over North America!) We gathered in lovely Charlotte, NC. We opened each morning and afternoon session in prayer and worship, for if we are not seeking the Lord, what is the point of anything we're doing?

One of our major topics was getting the CTO implemented. It's not a lot of good to work so hard making a great product (which we have) if nobody's using it! So we discussed with Christie, Gilbert, and Ray how we can best help 7 centers in Nigeria, 3 in Zambia, one in Sierre Leone, and one in Kenya start running the CTO to reach their young people for Christ, teaching them the gospel while they learn godly use of technology.

We also brainstormed ways to help more schools run the CTO:

Some of these suggestions were just funny ones when it was somebody's turn who couldn't think of a new one ... and we needed a few laughs to keep up our energy! The one on the upper-left hearkens back to my previous post. ;)

Another major topic was a registrar model to enable Africans to make educational accountability of the CTO into a sustainable business, and support each other in forming and maintaining standards. By this time, we were getting pretty tired, as you probably are too by the thought of this much detailed discussion:

But we still had do discuss the direction my department, the curriculum department, is taking. We have two main thrusts of development now. The simple one is materials to teach a broader audience like African families and pastors about technology, with its uses and dangers. The more involved one one is more advanced computer training that will help schools run more sustainably, give graduates more opportunities to serve needed technology fields, and give teachers the training and tools to start developing, their own Christ-centered transformational curriculum. As we come alongside to help them develop it, we will also make it available across Africa so that the teachers' hard work can make an impact everywhere.

And of course, it's always great just to fellowship with the team. Since we met at SIM-USA headquarters.

We also got to connect with some of the wonderful SIM home staff:

I hope you enjoyed that little taste of Charlotte and the blessing it was to get to strategize with the team. A few things you can be praying for in light of what took place:

  • The 7 centers in Nigeria that want to offer the CTO. Pray that the business plan we started to draw up will solidify as Christie gets more data, and that there will be no obstacles to them opening and teaching the gospel through computer training.
  • The centers in Zambia that are interested in offering the CTO, that they will get the right personnel dedicated to championing and teaching it.
  • The possibility of other missionaries using our CTO as integrated church planting in new locations.