David Wilkerson’s greatest legacy?

Pastor David Wilkerson has gone on to be with the Lord. Agree or disagree with him and his theology, what was his greatest legacy? Without question it was his founding of Teen Challenge, USA.
Here are some stats about Teen Challenge.

National Institute on Drug Abuse Report (source):

The Teen Challenge definition of “drug-free” means abstaining from all use of narcotics, marijuana, alcohol, and cigarettes. 67% of the graduates are drug-free as indicated by the urinalysis test. (86% stated they were drug-free on the questionnaire.)

72% of the graduates continued their education upon completion of Teen Challenge. The areas include getting their G.E.D., or pursuing college level education.

75% of the graduates indicated their current status as employed. 73% of the graduates are self-supporting by earning their own salary. Of those who are currently employed, 58% have been at their present job for over one year.

87.5% of the graduates did not require additional treatment in drug treatment programs after leaving Teen Challenge. Over 90% considered themselves addicted to drugs before entering Teen Challenge.

67% of the graduates are regularly attending church. 57% of the graduates are involved in church work.

92% of the graduates report good-excellent health, whereas the numbers are significantly lower for the other two groups, 59% and 75%.

the stats speak for themselves… Teen Challenge is hands down by far and away better and more effective than any other recovery program out there!

Thank you Pastor Wilkerson for leaving behind such an incredible legacy as Teen Challenge!

still around

just not always with stable internet connection and still in a bit of a wondering phase since when we left the Canyon.  We did just that, we up and left – we did not have time to plan our “exodus” (does anybody in these kinds of situations?) – been keeping up on the blogs when I can and we are still figuring a way forward and have yet to land in Phoenix.  It’s pretty rough and tumble for sure.

One thought I’ve reflecting on is the connection between the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and the missio dei.  They are connected you know, and interrelated – the incarnation and resurrection were/are the impetus of the missio dei – they are what make it possible if not necessary.  Resurrection leads to Mission.  A Resurrection life in Jesus leads to a missional life in Jesus.  In fact, Mission flows out of the Resurrection life of Jesus, which is also in us (as Paul tells us in Romans, that Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead lives in us).  The fact that Jesus rose from the dead should compel us to pursue God’s salvation to the ends of the earth.  Why wouldn’t it?  Do we think the benefits of the resurrection are for us alone?  They are not.  Instead, they are to be shared, not only in community and care for one another, but also in proclamation and in care for others that they too may know and experience the risen life of Jesus in them as well.

all for now.

We’ve left the Grand Canyon…

To our supporters, friends and family,

It is with much heartache and tears that we are letting you guys know we are leaving the Grand Canyon.  As some of you know, we have been battling health issues with mold, and other toxins from our previous home.

We had some suspicions we were battling it again after our daughter caught pneumonia a few weeks ago.  More recently she had an anaphylactic attack where she was having trouble breathing, and kept vomiting.  We tried everything we could at home, then we got her ready to drive to the ER in Flagstaff.  As we were driving away her breathing cleared up and she seemed to get better.  That told us it was related to mold, and we knew in our hearts we needed to go.  We are not sure if it is underneath the newer home, leftover from the old house on the ground or in the environment.

We are worn out and exhausted physically and emotionally.  We feel the decision to leave will put our kids health first and our own health as well.  We have battled this over 3 and a half years.  We do not have any options to stay in the canyon because good housing is tied to management jobs in the concessions companies, and we did not want to try for such a job because it would take away our time from the ministry and our family.

As to what we will do next, we are not sure.  We did not have a plan “B” because we had felt God’s calling for us to be at the canyon.

We do know 3 things – 1) more than the canyon, we are called to our children and family first.  2) God knows our situation and is directing us even when we do not understand it.  3) God typically uses us in areas where we work with multiple nationalities- cross-culturally and we still have a heart for International Students.

Our US Missions account is open until the end of May, and we are asking those who support us to continue to do so until then.

While we are in transition, we are hoping to move to Phoenix, in a much dryer climate to rest, get healthy again, and pursue the Lord for his direction and strength.

We cannot tell you enough how much we love and appreciate you all – you have been a blessing to us and have partnered with us in our mission to the canyon.  We were hoping to communicate more personally with each of you, but through the process of moving and getting our stuff together, we will be traveling alot, so we weren’t sure if we’d have the time to do so before word got out.

Thank you again for partnering with us to impact nations and pray that we will continue to be able to do so again in the near future.

Blessings,
Debbie, Brian, Mercy & Samuel

on the problem of platitudes

why do they have to be so prominent during the tough times for people needing support??!! (not just in loss through death but maybe job loss, position loss, sense direction loss, etc..)

in my opinion the main problem of platitudes is that they reveal a lack either of the following: understanding; empathy; compassion; depth of insight; connection to reality or pain and suffering.

i know it is dangerous to overthink issues and people and to assume too much but still….

A platitude is a trite, meaningless, biased, or prosaic statement, often presented as if it were significant and original. The word derives from plat, the French word for “flat.” Whether any given statement is considered to have meaning is highly subjective, so platitude is often—but not always—used as a pejorative term to describe seemingly profound statements that a certain person views as unoriginal or shallow. An example of a platitude could be “go with the flow” or “The only thing to fear is fear itself.”  See Dictionary.

or in church culture some examples might be:

  • God will get you through it…
  • Find out what God’s will is and do that…
  • God is in control…
  • Keep your focus on the Lord…
  • They are in a better place now…
  • All in his timing…
  • let go and let God…

the list could go on and on and on.   these are basic truths that are not untruths per se, but simply stated in a flat and often trite, meaningless way (often unintendedly).  when stated, they usually grate and don’t comfort.

please, for the love of God, if you are with someone needing support, make every effort to avoid platitudes?  most of us just say them without realizing it – I know I have and I too need to work on it – it isn’t very loving or supportive.

God doesn’t change his mind!

well, not very often anyways.

We have been down in Phoenix (Surprise area) for our District council (more or less the yearly business meeting for all the pastors and ministers in the AZ  District of the Assemblies of God).   It’s a good time for pastors and ministers from all over the state to visit and catch up, etc .

So Debbie was talking with a ministry friend who she and her husband had been overseas for a lot of years but due to things out of their control they are switching fields and will be doing ministry in the states.   in the process they a have had to rebuild their support base.  some have opted to continue supporting them no matter what and others have chosen to drop their support because they are no longer overseas and so on.

Debbie’s friend told her that regarding the switch from overseas to stateside one pastor told them:

God doesn’t change his mind.

and dropped their support.  This is not only full of theological naiveté, it is spiritual abuse.

Fortunately Debbie’s friend knew better and so is not harmed by this, but can you imagine?   God changing or not changing his mind has nothing to do with the fact that he alone directs our paths… The end goal is always the same but that doesn’t mean getting there is accomplished on only one path.

Fortunately, our friend knew better but still, what do you say to such a comment??!!

on large churches

Eugene Peterson shares in his book, The Pastor: A Memoir,  a letter he wrote to someone who abandoned a study group he was in for a pastorate in a large congregation (the quote is only a portion of the letter):

I certainly understand the appeal and feel it frequently myself.  But I am also suspicious of the appeal and believe that gratifying it is destructive both to the gospel and the pastoral vocation.  It is the kind of thing America specializes in, and one of the consequences is that American religion and the pastoral vocation are in a shabby state.

It is also the kind of thing for which we have abundant documentation through twenty centuries now, of debilitating both congregation ad pastor.  In general terms, it is the devil’s temptation to Jesus to throw himself from the pinnacle of the temple.  Every time the church’s leaders depersonalize even a little, the worshipping/loving community, the gospel is weakened.  And size is the great depersonalizer.  Kierkegaard’s criticism is still cogent: “the more people, the less truth.”

The only way the Christian life is brought to maturity is through intimacy, renunciation, and personal deepening.  And the pastor is in a key position to nurture such maturity.  It is true that these things can take place in the context of large congregations, but only by strenuously going against the grain.  Largeness is an impediment, not a help  (133).

What do you think?

Don’t forget about Japan…

the need there is still VERY GREAT and DIRE beyond probably what we can handle emotionally or psychologically… even so, don’t forget about the people.

It looks like the area where the nuclear plant is is set to become shut down and permanently unlivable.   It is as bad if not worse than Chernobyl.

They also had major tremors on the anniversary of the first massive earthquake and tsunami.  It’s not over folks so don’t go on and act like it’s time to move on…

the linked article closes with:

A month after the disaster, more than 145,000 people are still living in shelters. The quake and tsunami are believed to have killed more than 25,000 people, but many of those bodies were swept out to sea and more than half of those feared dead are still listed as missing.

keep praying.

cleaning the snake pit….

is it kind of like doing pastoral ministry?

HT: George P. Wood’s Facebook page who followed up the posting with the following:

Like all metaphors, we need to be careful how this one is used. For me, what it symbolizes is this: Pastors sometimes fail to do something out of fear for how their parishioners will respond. In my experience–and in the case of this cobra-pit cleaner–that fear is exaggerated.

of course and indeed is fear often exaggerated though too many churches have man venomous snakes in them (who are supposed to be Christians)… and it’s too bad really.

…. and of course the snakes are upset because the cleaner is taking their young (the eggs….)

Sundays with Andrew Murray

From his book Humility; Chapter 1 – Humility: The Glory of the Creature


“They shall cast their crowns before the throne, so saying: Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive the gloty, and the honour and the power: for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will then are, and were created. ” Rev. 4:11

When God created the universe, it was with the one object of making the creature partaker of His perfection and blessedness, and so showing forth in it the glory of His love and wisdom and power. God wished to reveal Himself in and through created beings by communicating to them as much of His own goodness and glory as they were capable of receiving. But this communication was not a giving to the creature something which it could possess in itself, a certain life or goodness, of which it had the charge and disposal.By no means. But as God is the ever-living, ever-present, ever-acting One, who upholdeth all things by the word of His power, and in whom all things exist, the relation of the creature to God could only be one of unceasing, absolute, universal dependence. As truly as God by His power once created, so truly by that same power must God every moment maintain. The creature has not only to look back to the origin and first beginning of existence, and acknowledge that it there owes everything to God; its chief care, its highest virtue, its only happiness, now and through all eternity, is to present itself an empty vessel, in which God can dwell and manifest His power and goodness.

The life God bestows is imparted not once for all, but each moment continuously, by the unceasing operation of His mighty power. Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature, and the root of every virtue.

And so pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil. It was when the now fallen angels began to look upon themselves with self-complacency that they were led to disobedience, and were cast down from the light of heaven into outer darkness. Even so it was, when the serpent breathed the poison of his pride, the desire to be as God, into the hearts of our first parents, that they too fell from their high estate into all the wretchedness in which man is now sunk. In heaven and earth, pride, self-exaltation, is the gate and the birth, and the curse, of hell. (See Note “A” at end of chapter.)

Hence it follows that nothing can be our redemption, but the restoration of the ‘lost humility, the original and only true relation of the creature to its God. And so Jesus came to bring humility back to earth, to make us partakers of it, and by it to save us. In heaven He humbled Himself to become man. The humility we see in Him possessed Him in heaven; it brought Him, He brought it, from there. Here on earth “He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death”; His humility gave His death its value, and so became our redemption. And now the salvation He imparts is nothing less and nothing else than a communication of His own life and death, His own disposition and spirit, His own humility, as the ground and root of His relation to God and His redeeming work. Jesus Christ took the place and fulfilled the destiny of man, as a creature, by His life of perfect humility. His humility is our salvation. His salvation is our humility.

Eugene Peterson on teaching how to Pray

he writes in his book The Pastor…. (142):

Up until then I had concluded that prayer was not something for which there was much of a market.  Wanting to serve my congregation on their terms, I kept my prayers to myself and did what I was asked.  Marilyn’s “Would you teach me to pray?” was a breakthrough.  I reflected on the irony: the work that I was most equipped for, that I most wanted to do, what most pastors for most of our twenty centuries of working in congregations expected to do and did, was not expected of me.  Until Marilyn asked.

An inner resolve began forming within me: I was not going to wait to be asked anymore.  In the secularizing times in which I am living, God is not taken seriously.  God is peripheral.  God is nice (or maybe not so nice) but not at the center.  When people want to help with their parents or children or emotions, they do not ordinarily see themselves as wanting help with God.  But if I am going to stay true to my vocation as a pastor, I can’t let the “market” determine what I do.  I will find ways to pray with and for people and teach then to pray usually quietly and often subversively when they don’t know I am doing it.  But I’m not going to wait to be asked. I am a pastor.

Last I checked this is called intentional discipleship (or perhaps a kind of spiritual direction) and it is the responsibility of pastors (and probably most Christians) to engage their congregations and or brothers and sisters in the Lord in this action of intentional discipleship (it is part of loving one another), which is not on their terms, but in the leading of the Spirit and with an eye to what is needed to help people grow in their relationship and understanding of God.   Obviously intentional discipleship is a process that takes time as does anything else and of course we should operate in grace and mercy but at the same time should be done with some degree of purpose and intentionality!

Thanks Eugene Peterson for this memoir!