Friday, April 16

The KC Royals, me, and God

Below is a "re-post" from almost five years ago. Sometimes I need to be reminded of this. Maybe you do, too.
I'm a Kansas City Royals fan. There. I admitted it. I have been since they played their first game in 1969. There really isn't much reason to be a Royals fan now-a-days. Especially in Arkansas. This is Cardinal country. It's easy to be a Cardinal fan. They spend a lot of money. Have a lot of good players. They win. They are easy to love.

But it's not easy to be a Royals fan. They haven't won anything since about 1985. They have lost 8 of their last 10 games. (They didn't lose tonight! But then, they had the night off.) They have more losses than any other major league team. I probably couldn't name five players on their roster. The Royals aren't an easy team to love.

But I'm a Royals fan. This summer I'll probably head to Kansas City and watch them play (and probably lose) a couple of games.

Sometimes I'm sure God thinks of me like the Royals. I'm not always easy to love. I can put on a good show sometimes. But you don't have to watch too long before my failures begin to show. I am often self-centered. I'm impatient. I'm not loving. Not pious. Not zealous. Distracted. The list could go on. I'm not an easy person to love. But God is a Mike Armstrong fan. He loves me in spite of my inconsistencies and failures and sin.

And he loves you, too. Sometimes it is easy to forget that. Sometimes we get distracted by our failures and forget that we are loved. Regardless of our test scores. Regardless of our "relationship status." Regardless of how we rate on the financial scale or the looks scale or whatever other scale people measure each other by.

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
I John 4:9-10

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:38-39

Back in 1982, a Christian singer named Bob Bennett released "A Song About Baseball." The song never mentions the name of Jesus. Never mentions the name of God. But it is all about his love for us "no matter how we play." It's a great song. I bought the CD just for this one song. Stop by my office sometime and I'll play it for you.

Thursday, April 1

Road Trippin' - Campus Ministry Thoughts

Christ on Campus staff and students have been hitting the road for Spring Break to help out around the country (and Mexico) for over twenty-five years now. Our first trip, in 1985, was to work with a church in Juarez, Mexico. Over the years we have taken hundreds of students to:

Mexico (about 20 times to build houses, a children's home, and such)
Atlanta (to do inner-city ministry)
North Carolina (hurricane relief)
Louisiana (hurricane relief)
Mississippi (hurricane relief)
Kansas (tornado relief)
Florida (evangelism)
Arizona (projects at an Apache Reservation)

Though these trips require a lot of time, money, and effort we are firmly convinced of their value. And, though we hope that the groups we work with benefit from our labor, we believe that their greatest value is in what our students gain from the experience.

* They gain a broadened view of the world. They begin to see beyond just their experience and see how others live, how others think, and how others serve God. They begin to experience other cultures, worship in new ways, see need up close and personal. Their eyes and hearts are opened.

* They gain a greater appreciation of their ability to serve and meet needs. They contribute to the lives of others in ways that pull them out of their comfort zones and stretch their faith. Our prayer is that they carry the experience with them as they leave the UofA and that they will continue to find ways to serve and meet needs wherever God leads them during the rest of their lives.

* They experience God in deep and fresh ways. For those who are already Christians, they often return revived and closer to God. For those who aren't Christians (and there are often those with us who aren't), they get a chance to see the lives of Christ-followers up close and personal - both those they are traveling with and those they are serving. It is not unusual for these to later give their lives to Christ because of the seeds planted during a trip.

* Many begin to sense God's call on their lives on Spring Break trips. As I think of those who have left here and are now in ministry in the US and internationally, at least 90% of them took part in at least one Spring Break mission trip. I am sure that each would speak of the impact that experience had on their life.

I often tell our staff and students that there isn't anything that we do that can't be changed - but I can't see us ever not having a mission trip over Spring Break. The benefits are just too great for our students and for the places they will serve through the rest of their lives.