Despite the flurry of activity (and thankfully, things are slowing down to more manageable levels), I am beyond grateful for so many exciting opportunities to fill my hours. Here's a smattering:
- Teaching again at Westmont College. RS190, an elective internships course for the Religious Studies department. Eleven really sharp and interesting students deployed into awesome internships that work with undocumented immigrants, people living on the streets, junior high and high school youth, and in the classroom at a Christian school.
- Director of Recruiting and Leadership Development for the Center for Transformational Leadership (CTL) at Azusa Pacific University. This functions through the Free Methodist Church in Southern California, and I've been working on the CTL since Fall 2011. I am especially excited that the CTL has just been formally accepted by APU as a ministry partner. I am down on campus regularly, working with faculty, administration, campus life staff and students. I've also just been invited to join the School of Theology's Council of Church Leaders. The CTL also includes the internship program. I just finished up my third summer with Free Methodist interns; we've had 25 so far!
- Ministry coaching and consulting. I have my largest load to date. I am working with people in Indianapolis, Atlanta, Seattle and throughout Southern California. The variety is the most fun part... I'm working with three different denominations, a national communications department, several youth ministries, and senior pastors preaching and teaching in English, Spanish and Japanese.
- Speaking and training. I just finished up being the camp speaker again for Westmont's First-Year Retreat. What a blast! I've got projects coming up in youth ministry training, spiritual formation, theological training, and Strengths Finder.
- Westside Initiative. This might have me more excited than anything else. Far too many great details to share here, but there is a group of about 20 of us who have been going to Santa Barbara's Westside since early June. Together we have prayed over and studied Luke 10:1-12, and have sought to practice these words: "Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’" We have gone to a local park week after week, which functions as the backyard for many hundred apartment-dwellers in the neighborhood. We've enjoyed their hospitality and are building friendships. I am stunned at the beauty of this endeavor and feel so privileged to be involved. More details to come, I'm sure.
These things remind me of this quote that I read yesterday:
Vincent de Paul said, “We must love God, but let it be in the work of our bodies, in the sweat of our brows. For very often many acts of love for God, of kindness, of good will, and other similar inclinations and interior practices of a tender heart, although good and very desirable, are yet very suspect when they do not lead to the practice of effective love.”
"The practice of effective love." Five very humbling words. It says in 2 Corinthians 4:1, "Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart." That tells me that we are certainly not doing God any favors by serving him; conversely, we are the ones who benefit the most. It is merciful of God to allow us to join him in his work. I pray you too are encouraged by whatever you get to do in the name of Christ. May we each be bearers of his love and life-changing shalom.