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It’s been a full few weeks as I’ve had the opportunity to visit many of our young missionaries with Cru who are serving throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and others who are in North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.

Lots of planes and trains lately....

Lots of planes and trains lately….

 

 

These people are some of my heroes. So I prayed quite a bit about what to share with them. I simply wanted bring them encouragement – I wanted to help strengthen their determination to walk with God and to go after the mission He has put on their lives. As I thought of how God has encouraged me these past several months, I immediately thought of the first chapter of Joshua.

 

 

Here’s the scene: Moses, the most iconic and famous leader Israel has ever known, has just died. The people must be anxious and wondering what’s next. God calls Joshua to lead in this context. Here is what the God of the universe says to encourage this new leader:

 

 

Remember God’s Promise (1:1-4, 6, 11, 15)

 

“Moses my servant is dead. You go and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give them – to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.”

 

 

Whatever your situation remember God’s promises. Here God reminds Joshua that He has promised to give the nation of Israel the Promised Land. Moses has died but God’s promise lives on. (Joshua 1 is actually rooted in Genesis 12. Genesis 12:6-7, 13:14-15, 15:7, 18-21, 17:8, 24, 26:3-4, 28:13-14, 35:12, 48:3-4, 50:24)

 

 

What promises of God do you need to remember today?

 

 

Remember God’s Presence (1:5, 9, 17)

 

 

“No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses so I am with you.”

 

 

This second promise highlights God’s presence. What’s interesting is that these very simple and pure words were spoken of once before to Moses in Exodus 3:12 – who basically said “ask someone else” when God called him to face Israel and Pharaoh.

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Buenos Dias Espana! Sunrise.

 

 

Moses has died but God’s presence lives on in Joshua now – and it is because of this assurance that Joshua can be strong and bold. I think that’s pretty cool. (2:24, 3:7, 10, 4:14, 6:27, 10:14, 42, 13:6, 14:12, 21:44, 23:3, 10.)

 

 

Do you ever wonder where God is in the midst of your circumstances? Are you sensing God calling you to something big that will require courage? Remember God’s presence.

 

 

Remember God’s Word (1:7-8)

 

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the laws my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”

 

 

Do you want to be successful wherever you go? I do.

 

 

The Bible clearly teaches that a successful life is one that is lived in obedience to God. How do we do that? Again we see it crystal clear here throughout Joshua, “Do not turn from it (God’s Word) to the right or to the left.” (22:5, 23:6, 8:30-35)

 

 

I did my undergrad studies at UC Irvine (which was awesome because I lived in Newport Beach). My senior year I skipped my Botany class whenever the surfing were good, which was not the best thing for my Botany grade. The midterm came and I failed miserably.

 

 

I went to the professor and asked for extra credit to boost my grade to at least pass the class. I remember him asking me this simple question: “Shane, did you know the material?”

 

“Uh, well, no. I guess not.”

 

I failed because I was unprepared. I was not set up well because I didn’t know the material. To succeed in life – which God definitely wants for us – we obey Him by obeying his law. We know how to live a life pleasing to God by reading and studying his word on our own and with others.

 

As you hit the many challenges life throws at you remember that God’s word is what we ultimately need to be successful.

 

 

Take some time and read Joshua 1. Look over the other memory verses I’ve put under each point. Pray through them asking God to help you as you remember His promises, His presence, and His word.

Just a few of the countries our young missionaries are serving hard in.

Just a few of the countries where our young missionaries are serving.

 

And if you were with me in Colombia, Spain, or will be in Thailand, let me say a special thank you for doing what you do!


“I’m not sure I’m ready for this. I’m not sure if I believe yet, but I want to learn more.”

 

My new friend Jonathan and I had just spent an hour talking about God and Jesus, friends, values, and the future. I had met him through a survey he filled out when a short-term (summer) missions team had visited Puerto Rico.

Our current Stint team serving in Puerto Rico.

  Our current Stint team serving in Puerto Rico.

 

As I drove home that day I thought of the privilege I have in doing what I do. It’s such a privilege to share with students how they can have a personal relationship with the living God. My friend Jonathan had never heard what I had shared with him.

 

Think about that. He had never heard.

 

I met Jonathan through a short-term team that visited us just a few weeks prior. I loved it when a short-term missions team visited us when we lived in Puerto Rico, these teams came in and poured gasoline on the fire of what God was already doing.

 

Let me be the first to invite you on a short-term mission. Go somewhere for a week, for a month, or for a year. I don’t really care where you go. Just go somewhere.

 

As one who hosted these teams allow me to share 3 very simple reasons why short term missions matter.

 

They Matter Because Longer Termers Need Your Help

 

Last year I read a blog going on and on about how short term missions are overrated. They are a hassle for those living on location and receiving the team. They create more work. The blog said sometimes they’re just not worth it.

 

I totally disagree.

 

As a result of short-term teams visiting us in Puerto Rico we saw people come to know Jesus, we saw students who are on the fringe of our group become more involved, and we were encouraged as a team.

 

When you go for a summer or a year you will accelerate what God is already doing. You will see God change lives as you share your faith, and you will see God change your own life as you share your faith.

Our leaders going to East Asia. Join them!

    Our leaders going to East Asia. Join them!

 

I remember a conversation I had last year with a Puerto Rican pastor. He said we were on the front lines of what he wants his church to be doing. It was an awesome conversation about partnering together to help people see Jesus.

 

I asked him how he came to know so much about who we are as a group and what God has called us to do on campus. He said he met with the leader of our short-term team from the previous summer. This team was in and out of here in one month. But I feel like that short trip moved us forward about a year.

 

The leader of that team explained to my pastor that in some ways our group is like an ambulance service. We want to pick up students and drive them to Jesus. We are an ambulance service for my pastor’s church, and for other churches.

 

I like that. I could go on and on about how this short-term team helped our long-term ministry there in Puerto Rico, but this is suppose to be a blog you can read in 90 seconds.

 

They Matter Because They Are Biblical

 

I am not at all saying that short-term missions is the end all. Of course not. The longer we have missionaries on the field the better opportunity there is to raise up national leaders. It’s all about nationally led spiritual movements.

 

But God has a history of using short-term missions. How long do you think the apostle Paul took as he planted those churches we are always reading about in the New Testament? Did he stay in those places for 5 years at a time?

 

Nope. He was in those cities briefly — read more about Paul’s Stint year in Antioch in Acts 11, and his 90 day short term mission in Ephesus found in Acts 19 — and then coached and encouraged the leaders from a distance. Sometimes he even coached these churches from a rotting prison cell.

 

They Matter Because They Bless Both Sides Of The Ocean

 

I spent 10 years on staff with Cru at UC Santa Barbara. One student I worked with for several years was my friend John. John invested a summer while he was at UCSB and went to Tokyo on a summer mission. John came back from that summer on fire. He went on to start a group on campus called Epic. Epic is a contextualized ministry that focuses on helping Asian American students know and grow in Jesus.

Pick a flag, any flag, and #GO.

             Pick a flag, any flag, and #GO.

As the director of the campus I was thrilled. I had this student come back from a summer and ask me if I could help him reach out to students. Where did he get this vision? Was it from me discipling him? Was it from our Bible study? Nope. But I would like to think so! God clearly gave John a vision to reach Asian American students as a result of spending a summer on mission in Tokyo. His summer blessed not just those students in Japan but those at UCSB as well.

 

Oh and by the way, that group that John started 17 years ago at UCSB continues today.

 

I remember a Fall Retreat we hosted in Puerto Rico – “Retiro de Otono.” During the last meeting I looked around the audience and counted 26 students representing 6 universities. I thought of the other 20 or so students who weren’t at the retreat but still involved with us. I was encouraged as I thought of how many students were involved when we arrived the previous year – which was 0.

 

We met many of those students as a result of short-term mission teams who came in to help us. They were such a blessing. If and when you go on a short-term mission I am sure you will be a blessing as well.

 

For more information about short term missions for a summer or a year go to:

http://www.cru.org/opportunities/mission-trips/summer.html


Radiate
                        An awesome week.

I can’t even tell you how much fun my family I had last week at Radiate DC. Over 1,250 college students from the Mid-Atlantic came to worship together, listen to Bible teaching, attend seminars, and have lotsa, lotsa FUN. It was really a blessing to be with all of you.

 

Below are my very general notes as we looked at God’s Heart for the World on Wednesday evening – you can cross-reference these to find many, many more passages that speak to God’s plan to bless the nations through you. There are also a few quotes at the bottom of the page I did not include in my talk that I think will encourage you. I am praying for you as you consider how God is calling to to be a blessing to the nations!

 

Introduction to Scripture: Genesis 1-11

The Theme (God’s Mission) of the Bible Woven Throughout Scripture: Genesis 12:1-3

God’s Mission – the theme of the Bible – is to bring the nations back to Him.

The Old Testament: Zephaniah 2:11, Isaiah 12:4-5, Isaiah 56:6-7, Isaiah 49:6, Psalm 67:1-7, Psalm 22:27-28, Psalm 86:9-10, Psalm 96:10, Psalm 42:7, Psalm 88:7, 1 Samuel 17, Joshua 2:9-10, Jeremiah 1 (whole chapter)

The New Testament: 5 Great Commission Texts (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:46-48, John 20:21, Acts 1:8)

The Conclusion to the story: Revelation 7:9

God’s Messengers Have Historically Been Young People and University Students

I think I may have pulled a muscle in my shoulder while sharing about God's heart for the nations....:)
I think I may have pulled a muscle in my shoulder while sharing about God’s heart for the nations….:)

Who were these missionaries who sacrificed so much to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth? Were they spiritual giants who gloriously overcame obstacles they confronted? No. They were ordinary individuals, plagued by human frailties and failures, super saints they were not. – Ruth Tucker

 World Christianity is the result of the great missionary expansion of the last two centuries. That expansion, whatever your attitude to Christianity may be is one of the most remarkable facts of human history.

From the Haystack Prayer Meeting in 1806 to the Cambridge Seven and the Student Volunteer Movement of 1886, students of previous generations have been a uniquely powerful force in the cause of world evangelization. – Rick Wood

 “It is remarkable that students have played a decisive role in many of the greatest forward movements of the church in world evangelism. It has been through their vision and energy that the church has been propelled into renewed efforts of outreach.” – David Howard

A few more quotes from the evening:

“God’s mission is to bless the nations. God’s heart beats for every nation, every ethnic group, every person.

“Despite our age, insecurities, and our past, we are all called to be a blessing to the nations.”

“God advances his mission through messed up messengers.”

Apply for a summer mission with Cru here:

http://www.cru.org/opportunities/mission-trips/summer.html

A little sightseeing during Radiate!
A little sightseeing with the family during Radiate!

I recently listened to a message on how university students and young people in general are incredibly effective in reaching the world for Christ. Every major missions and church planting movement in history had young people and students leading it in some way.

 

I listened as this speaker told the story of a private university in the U.S. that has over 5,000 students attend an optional chapel every Friday. Many of those chapels are spent looking deep into Scripture about God’s heart for the nations.

 

From this university 64% of its students will graduate and go on a short-term mission within 5 years. Seriously!? 64%?! That’s amazing. Well, it is and it is not.

 

It’s amazing to me that 64% of these students would give several years of their lives. They press pause on going to graduate school, moving home to help in the family business, or jumping in to what they are excited to do with the rest of their lives.

 

But it’s also kind of a bummer actually. The sad thing is I am speaking of Brigham Young University. BYU sends the majority of its students overseas as Mormon missionaries – 64% of them.

 

How many of our students involved with Cru go overseas? At most 3% of them.

 

Most Mormon students don’t even blink when asked what they are doing after they graduate. They will tell you that God is very clear about the importance of telling the world about their faith – and off they go.

 

Mormons give room for missions, we Christians give excuses.

 

I’m not sharing this to guilt anyone to go overseas as a missionary. I’m simply stating the numbers.

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Some of our courageous Expedition Team as they travel through Russia and Ukraine.

 

 

From the beginning of the Bible and throughout all of its 66 books we see one major theme: God’s heart for the nations, His unrelenting pursuit of bringing people into a saving and personal relationship with Him. This thematic backbone, this story, is what King David writes of in Psalm 96,

 

‘Sing to the Lord; praise His name. Each day proclaim the good news that He saves. Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does.”

 

 

As I read this Psalm and reflect on God’s passion to know the nations, I’m reminded of so many staff and students who model living without excuses. They serve each and every day in a culture that is new to them, they interact with people who speak a different language, and go about living overseas in challenging circumstances to “Tell everyone about the amazing things He does.”

 

To those of you who challenge me with an excuse free life, thank you and I am praying for you.

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It’s really amazing how God used this team in just one month to raise up key student leaders through sharing their faith.

 

For more information about how you can serve for a week, a summer, or a year, take a look at this site: http://www.cru.org/opportunities.html


This time of year students are considering giving a year of their lives to go on Stint. Having spent the last few years on Stint with my four children (and even our dog) this is something very near and dear to me.

My family as we recently returned from Stint overseas.

My family as we recently returned from a Stint overseas.

I’ve spoken and written much on why going on Stint is worth a year of your life. I could give you multiple reasons and stories of how God will use you to change lives, how you will point people to an eternal relationship with the loving God that created them, how you will have the adventure of a lifetime working with a team of people, and even how something like Stint will prepare you for the challenges life will throw at you in the future.

But those don’t compare for a second to the real reason of why you should consider going on Stint.

I read this in Genesis the other day,

For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him.”

The context of this verse is fascinating. God and a few of his angels stopped to have a meal with Abraham and Sarah on their way to Sodom and Gomorrah to pass his judgment. They actually stop to have a bite to eat. I mean, do angels even get hungry? I’m pretty sure they do not.

But God stops to remind Abraham and Sarah of his promise to not just bless them, but to have them bless the nations. Just a few chapters prior (12:1-3) God had given what is known as the Abrahamic Promise. He tells Abraham that he would bless him to bless others. This blessing, this healing, is to be one that crosses cultures and reaches to every nation.

These folks, our Expedition Team, is visiting 8 countries in 10 months. Now that's an adventure.
These folks, our Expedition Team, are visiting 8 countries in 10 months. Now that’s an adventure!

Christopher J.H. Wright writes about the Abrahamic Promise, “God’s promise to Abraham is the key to the rest of Scripture. It is the beginning of mission and at the heart of the gospel. When we forget who we are and why we are here – to participate in the mission of God – then we have lost the plot of scripture.”

Our key to understanding God’s mission and our role in His mission is introduced here in Genesis. At the very beginning of the Bible, and throughout its sixty-six books we read of God’s heart for the world and his plan to share his love with the world. These verses in Psalms are an example of what we see throughout the entire Bible:

May your ways be known throughout the earth,

your saving power among people everywhere.

May the nations praise you, O God.

Yes, may all the nations praise you.

To gain an even better understand of the theme of the Bible, God’s heart for the world and his plan to use His people to reach the nations, read these passages. This makes a great Bible study you can do by yourself or with friends:

Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 18:18, Genesis 22:17-18, Genesis 26:2-4, Genesis 28:13-14, Joshua 4:23-24, 1 Samuel 17:46, Psalm 46:10, Psalm 22:27-28, Psalm 67:1-7, Psalm 86:9-10, Psalm 98:2-3, 7, 9, Psalm 87:4-6, Zephaniah 2:11, Isaiah 12:4-5, Isaiah 56:6-7, Jeremiah 16:19, Ezekial 36:20-21, Daniel 4:1-3, Malachi 1:11, Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47-48, John 20:21, Acts 1:8, Romans 15:20, 1 John 2:2, Jude 23, Revelation 7:9-19.

I could share (and I have) of how my family and I saw God work on Stint. I could tell you how glad I am that I went on Stint and why it’s so worth it. I could explain how living an adventure like Stint will equip you for the rest of your life. But these fail in comparison to the real reason you should consider going on Stint: To follow God’s call to be a blessing to the nations.

Pick a flag, any flag. Better yet, find a flag that's not pictured and go there.
Pick a flag, any flag. Better yet, find a flag that’s not pictured and go there.

Author Todd Ahrend sums it up, “God is a missionary God, and from cover to cover of the Bible, He reveals and invites us into His mission.”

God has revealed his mission. He has invited us into his mission. I pray you will join us in being a blessing to the nations in this unique way.

http://www.cru.org/communities/campus/why-consider-a-year-overseas.html