This week I’m teaching at a Bible College in Estes Park.
I had driven by their sign on Hwy 36 many times coming into Estes Park, but was never quite sure what Ravencrest was, or what their Bible school was like.
Last year I got a call from the director, inviting me to come up for the day; it turns out we have some common friends in Hungary, and several people I know had studied here.
Over the past few months, I’ve enjoyed getting to know Frank and the staff here at Ravencrest, and they invited me to come up these week as a guest lecturer. I’m teaching Genesis for the first-year students and teaching “Leadership in the Local Church” for the second-year students.
They have a great facility up here, and a good ministry that brings people in from all over the world. Along with the Bible School, they function as a conference and retreat center and in the summer they organize camps for youth, including some backpacking retreats into Rocky Mountain National Park.
Did you know that children in the foster system form an at-risk people group without in our own communities?
In almost every case, the reason these children end up in foster care is because of an unsuitable home environment, which may involve violence, neglect, drugs, crime, etc. These environments not only result in trauma many times, but they also tend to result in or be associated with poverty. Many foster care situations are kinship care, which means the child is cared for by a relative, which can create a financial burden.
Poverty has a profound impact on a child’s mental and physical well-being. Children living in poverty have higher rates of absenteeism from school. Students who come from low income families are six times more likely to drop out of high school. Adults without a high school diploma are 4 times more likely to be unemployed and live in poverty, which means raising their children in poverty, perpetuating a cycle of poverty which may persist for generations: poverty affects education which affects poverty. (source 1, source 2)
One of the ways that we can help kids break out of this cycle of poverty is by encouraging them to stay in school – and one of the ways we can do that is by helping them have the things they need to be confident and excited about going to school, so they can succeed!
Our church, White Fields Community Church, has a history of ministering to children in the foster system, and two years ago we began a new ministry: Project Back to School.
We are working with Weld County Department of Human Services, and this year they have identified 135 at-risk kids who need help with school supplies, clothes and shoes.
This is the most we’ve ever taken on. The first year we did 50, last year we did 100 – and this year we’ve accepted their request to provide for 135 kids! It’s a big step of faith, but we are trusting that God will raise up people to bless these families in the name of Jesus. It’s a way for us to love not only in words and in speech, but in action as well (1 John 3:18).
If you would like to be involved, visit us on a Sunday morning this July, leave a comment below, or contact the church here.
This past weekend was a busy one for us, full of many good things.
It began on Saturday with the Longmont Sunrise Stampede. My wife and 8 year old son ran the 2 mile race, and I ran the 10k. On the one hand, we were excited to run a race here in Longmont, but an added bonus was that the race went to support a great cause: proceeds went to help fund special education in the St Vrain Valley School District.
I was proud of my son for finishing his first race, and getting a time he could be proud of.
I finished my 10k race in 54:51 which was a personal record time for that distance and even better than I had hoped to do.
We then went up to Bailey, to a picnic for pastors and their families put on by Crossroads Church of Denver, my old church which sent me to Hungary.
We then went to Denver for the Lego BrickFest, which our kids loved, and then finished the day by having dinner with family and friends.
On Sunday we had church. I taught on Colossians 3:1-11 in a message titled “A New You”, about which I got a surprising amount of positive feedback. One of the key concepts I discussed was the “Already… but Not Yet” nature of the gospel. If you’d like to listen to it, you can find the audio of that message here.
I got an email after church that a couple from Texas had been at church that day, and that they had come because they read this blog and were in the area! That encouraged me to be writing here more.
Right after church at White Fields, we went down to Littleton, where the Colorado Hungarian community was having their annual picnic for Szent István (St. Stephen) Day. István was the first king of Hungary, who after converting to Christianity as an adult, established Hungary as a Christian kingdom in 1000. He was declared a saint on August 20, 1083 and because of that, August 20 is the national holiday of Hungary.
At this picnic, I lead a church service in Hungarian for the Hungarian Reformed Church of Denver, at which I preached on one of my favorite scriptures, Matthew 13:44 – “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” I really enjoyed preaching in Hungarian again! I get to do it sometimes when I visit Hungary, but felt great to do it here in Colorado.
On Sunday night, I left home at 11pm with two friends from church to climb Longs Peak.
It was the 2nd time I’ve climbed it, and it was just as beautiful and difficult of a climb as I remember it being! It’s a 15 mile round trip hike, with 5100 feet of elevation gain. The most difficult part of the hike, mentally, is the last 2.5 miles, when you descend back into the forest and it feels like it will never end. The most technically difficult part is probably “The Trough.” Here’s a description of the route.
Today the kids went back to school, which is bittersweet for us as parents. On the one hand, we are going to miss having them around, but on the other hand, it was a lot of work keeping them occupied and on task at home, and we see how good it is for them to be with the other kids and learning.
We took a trip last week up to the Mount Evans as a family to celebrate the end of summer vacation. It was my wife and kids’ first time up above 14,000 feet.
Living abroad for many years, one of the things which I came to realize and be impressed with, is how much American citizens give to charitable causes.
I was living in Hungary when the monster earthquake hit Haiti, and Hungarians were blown away to hear that average people in the United States were giving generously to help provide aid and relief for people they had never met in some faraway country. They were used to governments giving aid to regions with humanitarian crises, but for regular people to do such a thing was surprising to them.
It could be because people in the United States have more expendable income than people in most parts of the world, and that our currency is strong and goes further than other currencies. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that there is a culture here in the United States of using what we have to do good for other people.
Perhaps it comes from our history: having been a nation of immigrants, whose ancestors moved here to seek a better life or to escape poverty, and so it is built into our collective psyche, to use what we have to help others, knowing that we have experienced divine providential fortune to live in this country.
It also can’t be ignored, that a great number of Americans identify as ‘religious’. Part of the Judeo-Christian ethic is that, like Abraham, if we have been blessed, it is so we might be a blessing to others – that God wants to bless other people through us (Genesis 12:2).
Interestingly, although perhaps not surprisingly, it was the poorer counties which gave more per capita than the richer ones. One of the major factors in how much people in a given county gave to charity seems to be religious affiliation; places with more people who attend religious services saw higher rates of charitable giving.
The idea that people who have less tend to give more may not be surprising to everyone. Jesus drew the attention of his disciples to a woman in the temple who gave her last 2 mites – all that she had, whereas other people who had more gave less of what they had. Preachers have long cited statistics which show the same thing: ironically, the more one accrues, the more miserly they tend to become with it.
How about Boulder County, Colorado, where yours truly is located? 2.6% of income was given to charity. That’s pretty low, and pretty ironic, because people in Boulder County, in my experience, talk a lot about being “locally minded and globally conscious” and caring about the well-being of other people, even if most of them are not Christian or attend religious services of any kind.
Neighboring Weld County was not much better at 2.7%, Larimer County came in at 3.2% (there are quite a few more church-going folks up there).
Here is the map with each county’s income versus charitable giving:
In some places the saying goes: “April showers bring May flowers.”
I’m pretty sure in Colorado the saying should be: “February sunshine brings March blizzards.”
March is the snowiest month of the year in Colorado, and this past Wednesday we had a big storm.
Reports varied between 17 inches and 25 inches of snow accumulation. The roadsides looked like car graveyards and large parts of the Front Range were without power for extended periods.
One of the issues for us was that every year our church hosts a big Easter event in Roosevelt Park in downtown Longmont, adjacent to the building we meet in, the St Vrain Memorial Building.
This year, with that much snow on the ground and more snow in the forecast for Friday (last) night, we knew we wouldn’t be able to have the event in the park.
Thankfully we were able to move the event indoors to the Memorial Building.
It’s a big building, and I’ve always said you could easily fit 1000 people in there. Well, today we put that to the test…
Whereas in past years we’ve had up to 1200 people at this event in the park, we figured that with the snow and the move indoors we would see maybe 500 people attend. We were wrong. We know from raffle tickets that we had over 1000 people in attendance.
The event went well, especially considering the limitations on space. We had a great team of volunteers to serve our community and hopefully next year we can be back outside. Each year is a learning experience, and we look forward to an event better event next year.
One of the highlights of the event each year is the puppet show, which is one of several ways in which we share the true message and meaning of Easter with those who attend.
Tomorrow is Easter Service at White Fields! He is risen indeed!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1:3-4)
The radio outreach of White Fields Community Church, “Life in the Field”, will be expanding starting this Friday, May 1st, to every weekday at 2:30 pm MST on 89.7 GraceFM.
Our Sunday morning broadcasts at 10 am will continue to air as well.
We are excited to see how God will use this broadcast to reach people along the Front Range with Gospel-centered Bible teaching, and we ask that you pray that God uses it in a great way for His glory and the good of people in this community.
Let your friends and family know about the broadcast, so they can tune in!
GraceFM can be heard on 89.7 FM from Cheyenne, WY to Castle Rock, CO. In and around Colorado Springs it can be heard on 101.7 – and you can also tune in online at 897gracefm.com.
Starting this week, you can hear me on the radio here on Colorado’s Front Range, on 89.7 Grace FM.
White Fields is doing a series of 1-minute devotional messages called “Word from the Field”. Our thought was that instead of just airing our sermons, we could do something a little bit unique, that would also run multiple times per day at different times. This way we can stand out from the crowd and reach people who listen to the radio at different times of the day and week.
We are also uploading these recordings to SoundCloud, so that people can keep up with them online and share them through social media. You can follow us on SoundCloud here, and below you can listen to the messages we’ve recorded so far.