Friday, March 6, 2015

Overcoming Anxiety by JAMES VORE

 
Loved this piece from CATALYST on a topic that affects all of us...
 
I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently, about anxiety. I’m sure there is a ton of research out there as to what causes it, and where it comes from biologically speaking, and I encourage you to ask an expert if you find yourself struggling. Here’s what I can tell you that I have constantly reminded myself these past few years. 
 
ANXIETY, THE KIND THAT CRIPPLES YOU WITH FEAR, IS NOT OF GOD.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28
 
This idea appears in two separate Gospels, spoken out of the mouth of the Savior, and yet can you guess where a majority of my anxiety stems from as a young leader? 
 
Tell me if this is true of you; somewhere along the way your fear of monsters, and strangers, and even rollercoasters gave way to failure, dislike, and rejection. You don’t even have to be a naturally anxious person to know that cold feeling you get when you know you’re facing one of these things. I’m finding that the very fear we are warned against feeling is the thing we face most often, and it’s for a reason. The enemy knows exactly what anxiety can do to our hearts.
 
ANXIETY WILL DO ITS BEST TO KILL THE GOD-BREATHED PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE.
 
You and I serve a massive God, with a massive plan, within a massive story. It doesn’t matter how large or small your part of the story is, if you are serving Jesus your dreams will scare you. It’s what you and I choose to do in the midst of that fear that sets us apart and defines our legacy. I’m twenty-six years old, I’m getting married in three months, and I have dreams that I don’t understand how in the world will come to pass. You have your own things; we all have reasons for sleepless nights, and for good reason. What I’m finding is the nights I lose sleep follow the days I forget that:
 
THE STRENGTH WE NEED TO OVERCOME ANXIETY IS FOUND IN SURRENDER.
 
The kind of fear I’m talking about; the, “I’m too nervous to even try to be great at this so I quit,” kind will only ever be overcome with a choice to surrender.
Surrender to the fact that you will fail along the way
Surrender to the fact that growth takes years of refinement
Surrender to the fact that you will have confrontations that don’t go your way
Surrender to the fact that none of this is a surprise to Jesus, and yet He has still chosen you to play a part in His story. This surrender, it’s a Holy thing, comprised of faith and trust in the God who promises to bring to completion that which He began.
 
After all that’s where leadership of others starts with being led personally. We all have things to overcome, to surrender, things we desperately need God to work in and on if we are ever to lead others. The thing that will determine if we are successful in the long run is whether or not we are willing to stop clawing at our anxieties ourselves, and trust God to step into the fight.
 
He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”  
2 Chronicles 20:15
 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Can We Really Change the World?

I loved this piece by Ken Wytsma, author of Pursuing Justice. It reminds me simply that every net does count. Every life matters. We must change even if we can't always fix. Check out his words from the Catalyst...and keep being an agent of change...
 
 
Change and influence is what sits behind leadership, education, decision-making, creativity, entrepreneurship, discipleship and more.
 
THE POSSIBILITY OF CHANGE IN THIS WORLD, YOU COULD SAY, IS FOUNDATIONAL TO MY THINKING.
 
A friend recently admitted, however, that he was skeptical of my claim. He wondered if, at the end of the day, it's possible to actually change the world. Doesn't history show that injustice and sin are intractable and constant? I've faced this question many times. Many people believe that the talk we hear about changing the world is simply triumphal and idealistic cheerleading designed to make us feel more important than we really are.
 
The truth is, those who believe that we can't change the world and those who believe we can are both pointing at deep truths in the nature of reality. One sees the fact that no matter what our efforts, we can't permanently and fundamentally fix the world and eradicate evil from the human heart, while the other sees the fact that we can and do change the world every day in both small, yet significant ways, and, sometimes, in large and weighty matters. How are we to understand these two realities? Back in grad school, studying philosophy, the whole exercise of clarifying an argument always hung on a distinction - separating out a conflated idea into two clear and distinct truths.
 
The distinction here is: although we cannot fix the world, we can certainly change it.
My friend Keith Wright, International President of Food for the Hungry, has spent his life helping to grow healthy families and communities in the developing world. Recently, he shared with me a study by the World Bank that found extreme poverty, for the first time, has declined in every region of the developing world. Though that doesn't mean we can fix every economic need in the world (after all, Jesus himself said that we would always have the poor with us), it does mean, however, that one significant and large element of the world is slowly changing for the better.
 
Another friend of mine is a very busy Urgent Care doctor in town. In spite of the demands of his career, Randy uses his own money and personal time to drive around a fully equipped medical van, ministering to homeless folks who have no other access to health services. Sometimes he treats frostbitten fingertips and sometimes he literally saves a life. Randy isn't trying to fix every health need in town. He knows that even the folks he helps will have more medical needs in the future, but he serves knowing that, in that moment, what he does somehow fundamentally changes the world, if even in a small way.
 
Multiply these examples as more and more people heed the call to justice and love for fellow man and the amount of change that happens in the world can grow exponentially. This is why God commands us to do justice and why in the Old Testament he punished his people for neglecting justice, because what we do does make a significant difference for good or for bad in the world. We don't have to remake the world. Just because we can't control nature, eradicate all evil or ensure that the hard-won gains of justice will last, does not mean that we cannot bring about worthwhile positive change in the world. Change is fluid; cultures evolve and devolve. Changing the world doesn't guarantee that our victories will be permanent. And that's okay.
 
There are always those who will react to idealism and the ever-prevalent change-the-world language today by choosing to adopt a pessimistic outlook on the potential for deep and lasting change in the structures of the world.
 
WE CAN BE HOPEFUL, WITHOUT BEING TRIUMPHALISTIC, HOWEVER, AND WE CAN BE REALISTIC, WITHOUT BEING PESSIMISTIC.
 
Only God can fix the world; but as we fulfill our calling and carry God's good news of salvation and healing and justice into the world we become a very real part of changing it.
 
My friend Dave, who spends his life rescuing young girls from the sex trade, recently had a telling conversation along these lines while at the gym. Dave was on the treadmill and the guy beside him asked him what he did for a living. "I save girls from the sex trade by ransoming them out of brothels and slavery." The man responded, "Isn't that kind of futile? If you save one girl, won't they just grab another one to replace her?" Dave replied, "I don't think I'm qualified to answer that."
The man looked confused. Dave continued, "I'm not qualified to say whether it really made a difference, you'd have to ask the girl I ransomed from the brothel if it made a difference to her."
The world changes every day in both big and small ways. I want to watch where God is moving and join him there, recognizing that changing the world is less about being heroic and more about being faithful.
 
The distinction is necessary - in faith, in family, in discipleship, in service and in love - just because we can't fix the world, doesn't mean we can't, and don't, change the world every day in significant ways.
 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Different List of Resolutions for 2015...

I really liked this particular NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS LIST from Jesse Carey at Relevant Magazine...the focus on small habits & simple steps caused me to think about the exponential impact pursuing these things would have in my life and the lives of those I'm connected to...may God give us the spirit and strength to choose to be different in ways that might not be as easy as we think... 

To Spend More Time in Conversations that Matter

Too often, days at a time can go by with the conversations we have with our friends, family members and co-workers going no deeper than surface-level chit-chat. Though there’s nothing wrong with joking around, theorizing about the latest episode of Serial or strategizing about fantasy football, if we’re not intentional about regularly engaging in deeper conversations—that challenge us intellectually, spiritually and socially—too often, those types of talks can become increasingly rare.

To Complain Less and Do More

We’re all guilty of it from time to time: We see something broken—in culture, the Church, the government, in our own personal relationships—and our first instinct is to vent about it instead of thinking of ways we can help change it. Complaining about something can offer momentary relief from frustrations, but working on solutions to the problems in our world can actually fix the things that are broken.

To Spend Less Time Worrying

Any time spent worrying is time wasted. It’s also counterproductive. As author and activist Corrie Ten Boom said in The Hiding Place, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength."

To Pray More

It’s easy to pray less when we have lots of things to do, but really, life should work in the opposite way. As Martin Luther once said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” No matter how busy we become, committing to spend more time praying—even if it’s during our commute, when we’re working out or throughout our day—is a key to growing spiritually.

To Listen to More New Music Every Week

With the rise of platforms like SoundCloud, NoiseTrade, Spotify and Pandora, keeping up with new music releases has never been more involved. But it’s also never been easier to find new artists and get introduced to songs you’ve never heard. Next year, consider making even more margin to check out innovative music and the artists who are shaping culture.

To Cut Others Some Slack

In the social media era, where everyone’s opinion gets a platform, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of getting angry at our friends over things they say that we don’t agree with. Unfortunately, many times, that same mindset of taking offense at dumb stuff people say or do creeps into real-world relationships, the Church and workplaces. The thing is, most of the time, outrage is overrated. In 2015, commit to be offended less and reserving your anger for issues that really matter.

To Cut Yourself Some Slack

We’ve all been driven to try to accomplish things but ended up falling short. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all failed. The good news is, God doesn’t expect perfection from us, and we shouldn’t expect it from ourselves. Next year, when you mess up, drop the ball or let people you care about down, do what you can to make it right, but be quick to move on and show yourself the same grace you extend to others.

To Read More Good Books

In a letter to a friend, C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Clearly, one must read every good book at least once every 10 years.” Considering that there are thousands of “good” books to choose from, Lewis’ advice doesn’t seem all that practical, but that doesn’t make it any less powerful. No matter how much time you currently spend reading, there is even more potentially life-changing wisdom in the pages penned by some of humanity's great minds. All you have to do is take the time to read it.

To Challenge Our Own Presuppositions More Often

Just take a look at recent news headlines, ongoing current events and debates in the Church, and it’s clear to see that we live in polarizing times. Though being able to take a stand for what you believe is an admirable trait, so is listening to the other side and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Even if we don’t end up changing our position on an issue, questioning our own long-held presuppositions doesn’t just serve to challenge our beliefs—it can actually strengthen them.

To Spend Less Time on Your Phone

When you reflect back on 2015 this time next year, you probably won’t remember your new Candy Crush high score or that listicle of things you didn’t know about the cast of Boy Meets World. Even if you’re not a full-fledged app addict, in the era of the iPhone, we can all use a little less time looking at screens, and more time enjoying the people and places around us.

To Share More Meals with People You Care About

We’re all busy. And, the reality is, a lot of times it’s just more convenient to go to the drive-thru, eat lunch at your desk or use dinnertime to catch up on some Netflix. There’s nothing wrong with doing this every once in a while, but when eating on the run becomes a lifestyle, you end up depriving yourself—and others in your life—of moments that could be used to build deeper relationships.

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/11-resolutions-everyone-should-consider-making-next-year

Monday, December 15, 2014

DECLARATION ON SPORT AND THE CHRISTIAN LIFE...

Great ideas and principles here from some minds that have thought deeply about the intersection of Christianity and Sport, especially in our American culture...grateful for their framing of such important thoughts for folks like me...and a massive part of our communities...check out their website for more information below...
 
1. Sport has a legitimate place in the Christian life.
Sport has its basis in a divinely-given impulse to play and deserves a rightful place in Christian living. People play sport primarily for the love of the game, the thrill of competition, and the sense of community that comes from participation. When played and watched in faithfulness to God sport occupies a legitimate place as part of the created world and helps express our relationship to God and to one another. When passion for sport exceeds passion for Christ or the work of His church, or when sport becomes all-consuming and commitments such as worship, service, and family are diminished, sport poses a challenge to the consecrated life. In light of who God is and who He calls us to be, we must examine and order our affections and priorities regarding sport.
2. Sport touches all dimensions of human life.
God created humans as holistic, unified creatures. Sport engages us, not only bodily, but mind and spirit as well. It can powerfully affect our emotions, mental states, and spiritual lives. Our experiences in sport can, at times, uplift as well as disappoint us. When sport is viewed only as a physical activity, participants miss important transcendent moments that engage one’s entire being.
3. Sport can be a means of spiritual formation.
Christians acknowledge the bodily dimension of spirituality and practice faith in and through sport as embodied people. Like aesthetic endeavors, sport can remind us that God is the source of all strength, grace, and beauty of movement. Sport can help focus our attention on the reality of God and our humanness in special ways offering formative experiences in which God communes with us. When sport is approached self-indulgently and apart from the wisdom of God, spiritual growth is thwarted, hindering our formation.
4. Sport can glorify God.
To glorify God is to reflect the will and way of Christ in everything. Thus, the quality of the Christian’s play and participation should be distinctive, marked by Spirit-informed virtues including love, hope, faith, patience, kindness, humility, self-control and other fruit of God’s Spirit. Success in sport competition can help garner public acclaim for oneself, one’s team, one’s community, or one’s country. These forms of glory should not be confused with bringing glory to God.
5. Competition is an essential element of sport.
In competition, players test their skills and strategies in an environment of uncertainty and drama. Competition provides opportunities for personal growth, friendship and enjoyment, and can lead to maximum athletic performance. During games, relationships are characterized by a playful antagonism in which competitors elevate their own interests above those of their opponents. This playful antagonism is central to the concept of sport. However, when winning becomes an end in itself it can breed resentment and may dishonor God. Tactics and environments that persuade players, coaches and fans to supplant playful antagonism with mean-spiritedness have no place in a Christian approach to sport.
6. The true value of sport is inherent in the experience itself.
We can delight in our role as Christ-followers in the world of sport and understand that our behavior in contests is a form of witness to the kingdom of God. Our experience in sport reveals our playfulness, our desire to be excellent, and our desire to belong. When the human experience of sport is subverted to other ends, for example, as a means of commerce, a way to achieve fame, publicity, money, or personal glory, attention is diverted from the importance of the sport experience itself.
7. Sport has many benefits but they are conditional.
When we do sport well it has the potential to improve health, develop social and familial relationships, strengthen moral character, foster positive life habits and civic engagement, and act as a vehicle for peace, reconciliation, and the witness of the good news of Jesus Christ. But these effects are conditional. Their realization depends upon the moral and symbolic meanings we give to sport as well as the motivations of the participants. It should not be assumed that sport, irrespective of these considerations, will have its intended beneficial effects.
8. God created our bodies for His service and our enjoyment.
Sport can promote physical health and well-being and encourage the stewardship of our bodies. At the same time, sport entails a risk of injury and the potential for abuse. Sometimes sport encourages violence as part of a competitive strategy and elevates the probability of injury beyond a reasonable level. An unhealthy pursuit of excellence can encourage the use of questionable training habits and harmful performance-enhancing practices. The human body is a reflection of the image of God and such practices should not be condoned.
9. We do not control whether God favors one player or team over another.
In a Christian view of sport God is acknowledged as Father of all who compete. God shows no favoritism.   All players, coaches, and fans – regardless of team affiliation – are created in the image of God and are deserving of Christian goodwill, kindness, and love. God should not be portrayed as favoring one competitor over another, and Christians should not think of opponents as less than human, less honorable, less deserving of Christian love, or less loved by God than ourselves.  We thank God for good moments in sports, yet we also thank him for apparently bad moments - all for His purposes.  
10. Christian virtues are revealed in behaviors that go beyond obeying the rules.
Rule governing sport define how games are to be played and ensure a measure of fairness in competition. By joining the game, players implicitly agree to follow the rules. Therefore, Christians should not seek ways to circumvent the rules governing sport contests. Yet, Christians are bound by a higher calling, not only to obey the rules, but to apply self-imposed behaviors upholding the witness of Christ even when such acts might work to their competitive disadvantage.
11. Sport programs are a vital component of Christian education.
Sport is an effective complement to classroom knowledge when wisely integrated into Christian schools and universities. Participating in sport can lead students to truth and assist them in developing a mature faith. This requires careful thought and planning with an eye toward educational outcomes. When institutions disproportionately emphasize sport or yield the purpose and practice of sport programs to those interested only in winning, they undermine the educational promise of sport.
12. Sport is powerful.
Sport inspires us with displays of grit and grace. Competitive drama moves us in ways that few other forms of entertainment do. Watching sport can be a means of celebrating God’s creation and goodness, leading to a spirit of hope and joy. Left unchecked, passion can lead to obsession. The power of sport has the potential to cloud spiritual discernment and invite both idolatry and the neglect of self, family, and church.
 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THANKSGIVING REFLECTION: 12 Things I Love About CU Heading Into My 12th Semester...

It's Thanksgiving 2014...and it's also soon going to be the end of another semester at CU...this will wrap up my 11th semester since coming here in August 2009...I continue to love my job and all the people and programs it brings to my life and our family's lives...

And in that spirit of authentic gratitude and thanksgiving, here are a dozen things that I love about Cornerstone University as I look back over 5 and a half years...

1. Night of Nets...love watching our campus and our athletes leverage their gifts and resources to help end malaria and truly change lives in Africa...

2. Welcome day...the greatest opportunity to use my WOO strength...and I absolutely love the chance to have new students and families join the CU community...

3. Chapel...amazing worship teams and words I often need to hear...

4. Faculty collaborations & conversations...it's a privilege to be part of a community where incredible knowledge and wisdom is present in those who truly are experts in their fields...

5. Culture of learning...remarkable privilege to be in a setting where the focus is on growth, on true education so we can be equipped to transform our world as passionate and prepared Christ followers...

6. My Student Engagement staff team...I truly love working alongside and getting to partner with people who love students and what they get to do every day...

7. Students: from student leaders to soccer players to Terra Firma cohort members to literally hundreds and hundreds of students who have deeply influenced the way I live and think and see God and His Kingdom
...

8. Posters on my door...representing the incredible plethora of student activities and programs that create memories and friendships and give life to our campus...

9. Meals in dining commons with Urban Family Kids...sharing meals with kids in GR who we long to see end up at CU as students who do beat the odds in the future...

10. Zambia trips...no place I'd rather be in the world with our CU students...and no one I'd rather serve with than our amazing African leaders and partners...

11. Standing on sidelines of CU men's soccer games...perhaps the place I feel most at home on the CU campus because of the community found in playing the game we love and the relationships forged as a team through all things done on and off the field...

12. Terra Firma 1st week...so much energy, so much hospitality, so much dynamic student leadership, and so much joy in watching a community grow...


Can't wait to see how God continues to add to this list in 2015...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Six Millennial Statistics Every Adult Should Know

A great list from Tim Elmore's GROWING LEADERS blog...

 

Staying Single

These young adults have grown up in an age when the nuclear family has exploded. They long for “family” or community experiences, but many have seen unhealthy models and now are waiting to settle down with a married partner. 26% of Millennials are married, down from 36% of Gen Xer’s, 48% of Boomers, and 65% of the Builder generation. (These numbers are based on percentage of each generation married at age 18-32.) The paradox is that Millennials long for committed relationships… but often don’t know how to experience them. Two countries in our world today have introduced legislation for two-year marriage contracts for this very reason.
Question: How do we prepare young adults to engage in long-term, committed relationships?

Jumping Ship

Millennials have claimed for years that they are entrepreneurial in nature. They don’t want a conventional “job” but one where they can work for themselves and make up their own rules. It’s not necessary wrong, but parents and culture have given them this picture of autonomy and power. 71% of Millennials at “regular” jobs would prefer to quit their current job to work for themselves (Millennial Branding is huge). 60% of them plan to jump ship in the next two years. Change is their middle name, and most twenty-somethings work at multiple jobs during their first decade as new professionals, rather than build equity at one job.
Question: How do we help them discover their identity and “niche” during their young adult years?

Well Educated

School plays a larger role in this generation of young adults than any in American history. 23% have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, making them the most educated generation ever. Obviously, some have stayed in school due to a poor economy. (It just wasn’t a good time to launch a career). Others stayed in school because mom or dad pushed them to get that college degree and a “white collar” job instead of a “blue collar” job, and parents were all too happy to have them live at home during (and after) the process. So they’re well educated but may need to take a job they are over-qualified for at first. It also may mean they take a job where they must “pay their dues” in order to make progress. This is difficult.
Question: How can we enable young adults to capitalize on their education and leverage it to take them where they’re most gifted to serve?

Multicultural

Far and away, this generation of young adults is a mix of ethnicities, with a higher percentage of them being born from an interracial marriage than ever. 38% of Millennials are bilingual, up from 22% in 2003. They are more at ease with mixing races in marriage, workplaces and friendships. They embrace the idea that they live in a society bound by a world wide web and that they’ll work in a global economy. Although research demonstrates every child is drawn to people who are “like them” (see the book Nurture Shock), this generation has been conditioned to embrace those unlike them more than previous populations.
Question: How can we help this multicultural and bilingual generation leverage their strengths in a global economy?

Angst-Filled

One of my greatest concerns for this emerging generation of young adults is their mental health. 94% of college students indicate the best word to describe their life is, “overwhelmed.” About half of them are so overwhelmed, it’s difficult to function. Nearly one in ten has thought about suicide in the last year. Dr. Jean Twenge’s newest study shows that teens now have more psychosomatic symptoms of depression, such as trouble sleeping and remembering, than in past generations. Obviously our world is complex, and all of us probably wrestle with such issues. Yet young adults today become anxious over the smallest of difficulties.
Question: How can we help cultivate resilience and coping skills in young adults so they can face greater challenges as they age?

On-Mission

This reality expands with every study. As Millennials consider work, they want to do something they feel really matters. They want a “mission,” not just a job. They desire to work in an organization that improves the world in some way. Want proof? 87% of Millennials consider a company’s commitment to social and environmental causes when deciding where to work. To retain them, companies must find ways to care about the world around them, not just the bottom line. Young adults are drawn to organizations with a mission to transform the world.
Question: How can we capitalize on young adults’ desire to improve the world and, at the same time, demonstrate that they may have to do “little” things first?
 
http://growingleaders.com/blog/six-millennial-statistics-every-adult-know/

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

ALL IN: My Night of Nets Manifesto. Or why I am slightly obsessed with bed nets…A REPRISE...

Here's a piece I wrote last year...and it rings even more true for me with a couple hours to go before our soccer match begins here at CU...I shared this with our team yesterday...and here it is again on my blog...I write it with joy and gratitude in my heart...
 
Today we host my favorite event in the Cornerstone campus calendar. We call it night of nets...and it combines two of my greatest passions in life: the beautiful game called soccer or futbal and the people and communities of a sub-Saharan African nation called Zambia...

This is the 5th year we've done this event at CU and it is now one of our best attended and embraced student activities...the event is designed to use the platform of athletics in our culture to bring awareness and real change to one of the world’s greatest global issues.  We are trying to raise funds to provide insecticide treated bed nets for families that face incredible health dangers caused by the deadly disease malaria.

We've watched this event grow quickly in the amount of money we've raised, the attention given to the issue on our campus, the number of students involved, and now this year has been exported to other university and high school sports and teams to expand the impact of these truly life changing items...

To be honest, this little idea I shared first with a few CU soccer players in an impoverished community in the Dominican Republic has morphed into something I hoped and dreamed it could be...and with that growth has demanded more of my time, my resources, my thinking, and my skills as a leader and educator...

And this thing we dubbed night of nets keeps perhaps most importantly grabbing a deeper and fuller grasp of my heart...I am quite sure that many of my co-workers, friends, students, players, and family members wonder at times why I tweet so often about malaria, create & post a multitude of different visual pieces of promotion about NETS on our campus walls and doors, and cast vision almost hourly in classrooms, leadership trainings, staff meetings, soccer fields, and conversations in my office about the chance we have right now to change lives forever on the other side of the world...

So as we head into our final fall night of nets match for this year on the CU campus, here's a little list and explanation for why I am all in on this event, why I think it is one of the most important things we will do as a Christian college during the 2014-15 school year, and why it causes my heart to jump and my voice to speak loud as I join so many other people to try and end malaria in our generation...

1. I can't think of anything more ready to be used to invite large numbers of people in my world to do great good than the power of sport...soccer is our world’s global game and there’s something so special to connect as people and friends through a game we love to watch and play…and we have watched athletes, coaches, and fans embrace with gusto their chance to make sports something beautiful and brilliant as a tool to draw many together to both watch and do something extraordinary on and off the field of play…

2. I love the way God has given a ragamuffin group of young men a cause that unites them and allows them to come together to do something that others would never expect them to do...the driving force in night of nets has been a large crew of male college soccer players who have thrown off their selfish and entitled mindsets to be remarkable advocates for a people often forgotten and marginalized in our world…and their involvement badgering and cajoling fellow students to buy a Night of Nets shirt or fund a bed net has caused them to eventually end up in Africa where God changes them into people they could have never imagined they would become…

3. The scope of the issue is so massive that it demands an immediate and real response...malaria is an awful disease that affects hundreds of millions of lives...and as Rick Warren has said the greatest issues in our world do indeed respond the greatest responses...when you end malaria, you impact positively economics, health care, education, families, and the churches of communities in unprecedented ways…

4. Something so cheap and so simple can produce transformational change. A bed net that costs $6 can alter the life, the future, the ambitions of children and families simply because they no longer have to worry about an insect bite ruining their lives...I can’t even begin to describe the opportunity bed nets provide to prevent sickness, death, orphans, and immense heartbreak and grief…a bed net is something almost everyone I know can provide for another whose life hangs in the balance without it…

5. I love the sense of unity and connectivity that this event brings to my life and the college community I love so much...Night of Nets might be one of the very few things that can draw together students from all residence buildings, student interests, and friend groups to be part of something at CU…I love seeing hundreds and hundreds of students walking across campus to be part of something transformational for them…and our Zambian friends…

6. It's personal for me...I’ve taken hundreds of malaria pills to prevent being infected while I travel to Africa and it’s something I’ve read about in all kinds of books and journals and websites…and I am committed to trying to stop my African friends from getting infected by malaria because I’ve seen friends lose their children because a mosquito bit their son or daughter in the night as they slept…and I refuse to accept the fact that anyone dying from a ridiculously preventable disease is the way God wants our world to be in 2014…

7. I am convinced that it is something that Jesus and the Scriptures call me to do as a follower of Him and a person who is seeking to live by the words of the Bible God has written to call me to live a different life...Jesus brought physical healing, a call for justice, uplifting of the oppressed, and a love for those the world had forgotten…and He invited His disciples then and His followers even now to announce and help bring about the coming of His Kingdom…and I can’t help but want to be like Him…

The Apostle Paul in Romans 12 says it better than I could as I think about God’s call on my life to be a person who tries to have God’s love for me to move me to action…

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
So I am called by God’s voice and moved by His Spirit to be all in…to be OK with being thought of as a little overzealous, a little crazy, and a little too focused on one thing…

And being all in means I can’t wait to invite people to share God’s blessings in their live with others in great need through the gift of a bed net at Cornerstone University and many other schools in the next few weeks, months, and years…
And being all in means I can’t help but dream…dream of providing 10,000 more bed nets via Night of Nets for families that are praying God will provide one for them tonight on the other side of the world…dream that many more college and high school soccer and volleyball teams will join us to bring Night of Nets to their campuses in the near future…and dream that one day malaria will no longer be on the minds of people in Zambia just like it is never thought about by people living in my city, my state, and my country…

I can’t wait to see friends in Zambia sometime soon again…and tell them a little story about how students over and over in Grand Rapids, MI have responded to Jesus’ call in an event called Night of Nets, and then watch them sing and dance and whoop with joy as they receive a net that ends malaria in their house…

That’s why I am all in, why I love being part of Night of Nets, and why I invite you to be part of a campaign to held end malaria…
You can check out more at: www.cunightofnets.com