A ripple

I’m sure most of you have seen a rock dropped into a pond. It’s a commonly used illustration for the ability of one small thing to affect a much larger area. Now we know that ultimately it’s GOD that is causing the effect, but for some reason, HE has chosen to use people and ministries as that ‘rock.’ Many of you reading this may have even had the opportunity to be impacted by the ‘rock’ of Marannook. It is our desire to be used by GOD greatly to make a major impact for HIS kingdom. I wanted to share something that I recently received from Wade Killingsworth. Wade was a counselor at Marannook many years ago. He and his wife were both on staff. They now have a large family, and many of their children have been campers and staff here. One of their children is even coming this summer to be a counselor. Here is the quote from Wade,”My name is Wade Killingsworth, Marannook Training Staff in 1988. In 1992 I joyously married Joan Bowling, also Training Staff 1988. We took the Bible Study training (in excess of 100 hours) to heart and it formed a foundation to a lifestyle of discipleship and Biblical scholarship.
This past year (2014) we applied to a missions organization, SEND International, to become full-time career church planters. There was some question as to whether we had the necessary skills and knowledge to qualify, not having much formal training. SEND graciously gave us the opportunity to submit to a barrage of evaluations including, among other things, a four-hour psychological evaluation, two background checks each, two extensive theological surveys, and a massive timed Bible knowledge evaluation.
God is gracious, and we passed all the evaluations. Our evaluators commented that both our scores on the Bible knowledge test were significantly higher than the expected mean score for seminary-trained applicants. We credit God’s grace, multiple Godly teachers, and 25 years of a lifestyle of discipleship and Biblical scholarship.
And we credit our training at Marannook as a foundation for such a lifestyle.

It is incredibly humbling to think about how GOD has used Marannook in the lives of people, especially because of the reality of our frailty, weakness, and sin, but HE has been faithful. It’s remarkable to think that HE used the ministry of Marannook to prepare Wade and his wife almost 30 years ago, and now they are about to go to another part of the world to share that precious gospel that we treasure so much. It’s humbling to me to think about what GOD might choose to do through the staff coming this summer, and it’s humbling to think that HE might use me in that process. It’s just amazing to think what ‘rock’ might be thrown into the pond this summer and the ripple that will be created for eternity as HE works through the ministry at Marannook for HIS glory.

(As a side note: Wade and Joan are going to Slovenia. If you would be interested in helping them in this opportunity, please contact me, keith@marannook.org.)

the weight

Well, I’m two months into my new job as director of Marannook. As you can imagine there are a lot of ‘growing pains’ in a new job. I am very excited about seeing what will unfold this summer because I know how GOD has faithfully worked these 40 years at Marannook; however, right now, it’s easy for me to get caught up in all the details and forget the big picture. As some of you know, there is just a lot to do to get ready for the summer. Sometimes as I think about all the different responsibilities that I have, it begins to feel like a large weight on my shoulders. I’m sure many of you have experienced that feeling as well. It feels like you are being boxed in or being covered over, and you begin to wonder when it will stop. Mr. Charles, Mrs. Barbara, and the other staff have been great to help, but I know that it still rests on my shoulders. Lately, I have been feeling this ‘weight.’

Of course, there’s the problem right? You probably caught that. As you were reading that, maybe you said, “Hey. It’s not ultimately on your shoulders,” and you’re right. For me, that’s usually the problem. I get focused on the weight, and I forget the one that has taken all the weight on HIS shoulders.

Isaiah 53:4,5 – “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Wow. There was a tremendous weight, our sin, and it fell on JESUS. I think that all the stuff I have to do feels heavy. Well, try bearing the weight of the sin of GOD’s people! Yet, HE did it out of love.

First, I have to remember the ONE that bore my sin and worship HIM. There is a second part though. The reality is we do go through tough times, and we do have responsibilities, but here’s another verse from Romans 8, which we’ll study this summer.

Romans 8:18 – “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Double Wow. Paul says that the ‘weight’ that we think we feel now is not even worth comparing to the weight of the glory that will be revealed. Mr. Charles even gave the illustration 20 years ago about a feather and an anvil. There’s no comparison. Amazing. My sufferings really are small compared to what Paul went through, but it is a neat illustration. On a small scale, the ‘weight’ I experience isn’t even worth comparing to the glory of GOD revealed in the summer program as precious campers hear about the mighty Word of GOD.

So, the next time you feel that ‘weight’ remember first of all the ONE who took your sin, and secondly remember that the ‘weight’ of glory will be so much greater than the ‘weight’ of what you’re going through. It’s not easy, but it is good because HE is good.

Learning to Ask

There is much debate nowadays as to whether we should be a ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ nation or if we are becoming a socialist nation. I’m sure the answer is probably somewhere in between, but at this point, I’m really not interested in getting involved in the politics of the situation. What I do see is that people seem more inclined to expect others to do something for them without a lot of personal responsibility. I saw this some in the classroom when I was a teacher. Students seemed less inclined to study, but had higher expectations for me as a teacher to provide for them and accommodate them. As is the case for most teachers, this was often very frustrating.

What makes it frustrating is that I’m much more of a ‘bootstrap’ kind of person. I see asking for help as a sign of weakness and/or failure, so I almost never do it, even to the point of risking personal injury. Maybe it’s a guy thing, but the reality is that it’s a sin thing. There are two really interesting verses in Galatians 6. Verse 2 talks about “bearing one another’s burdens,” but verse 5 says, “each will have to bear his own load.” It almost sounds like some type of contradiction, but I think it helps to define the line between asking for help and personal responsibility. I wish I could draw my picture that I use to explain the passage, but I think the general idea is that everyone should be bearing their own burden as they can, but if we are all working together, sometimes the load might shift around to take the pressure off the one that is struggling to bear his own load. We never shirk our responsibilty, but as the body of CHRIST, we work together to take care of each other.

For me right now the application of this is in trying to do a better job in learning to ask for help. I know that what goes on at Marannook is way beyond me, and I’m learning that I have to do what I can to mobilize the body of CHRIST to better accomplish what the LORD wants to do here. I struggle with asking others for help, but I’m now in a situation where I have no choice. I might have been able to ‘fake it’ for the first part of my life, but this situation is so big. I’m learning to trust GOD and even to trust people, which is where this takes on a whole new application for me. I have to trust people in several areas. One area is that I have to be okay admitting I need help and trust that those around me will not think I am weak or have failed. Sure, I know that we are all weak in the sense that we need JESUS, but it’s hard to have to admit our limitations to another person. I also have to learn to trust people when they say they want to help. I hate being a burden to others, so I’m inclined to not ask for help because I don’t want to waste their time or resources. I know others are busy, so I keep things to myself, but I am gradually learning to believe that others really want to help, especially in areas where I know I need it the most. I have been greatly encouraged already at offers people have given me to help with recruiting and camp promotion. I have to trust them that they really want to help and are not simply feeling sorry for me.

This leads me to something that I am really hoping to grow in and that is what I mentioned before about learning how to be a part of mobilizing the body of CHRIST. I know now that I am in a position where I need a lot of people with strengths I don’t have to come in and do what they do best to make Marannook work. Part of this is the process of delegation and being okay with others taking responsibility. I know it’s part of my job to even go out and find people and resources that can be used for GOD’s glory at Marannook. This is so big because that means that I not only allow others to help, but I have to learn to ask others to help. Some people don’t mind helping, but may not volunteer as easily. I have to trust GOD to provide, and I have to trust others to be honest with me when I ask. As a general blanket statement, then I ask you to be honest with me because I have to start asking more and more. That’s part of what I am responsible for now, and you have to be honest with me as I am ‘learning to ask.’

Faith and Fear

This is the first blog post for our website, and it’s interesting to try and figure out what it should be about. Since I’ll be writing most of these for the time being, I think I’ll write about what I’m going through.

I’ve basically been in my new position at Marannook for about a month. Thankfully, the initial shock has worn off, but there is still so much to do. I continue to look at my ‘to-do’ list and realize that I can’t do all of this on my own. There have been many moments of ‘fear’ where I’ve wondered if I made a good decision. I love the ministry of Marannook, and I love discipling college students and teaching children about GOD’s amazing Word, but did I just take on too much? In some ways, the answer is yes, but in others the answer is no. I know that this ministry has been sustained by GOD for these 40 years. I know that there have been tons of staff that have come through here, and I know that all of them have sin, so that means that GOD has worked all this time in spite of having a ton of sinful people.

The reality is this. GOD does amazing work even when we are weak, and it seems that HE even does HIS best work when we are the weakest. HE loves to take broken people and use them for HIS glory, and that’s exactly the point. HE gets the glory. Even though my fear is a bad thing, it is often used by GOD to lead me to faith. I can’t stay in fear mode, but my fear causes me to cry out to HIM for help, which is exactly what HE wants. He wants us to trust HIM, and our faith grows the most when we know we need HIM the most. It’s such an interesting dichotomy. I know that my fear is really sin, but it has been pushing me to go back to HIM and watch HIM work in situations I know I can’t do on my own.

For the first time in my life, I think I am really in a situation that I know I can’t pull off on my own. It’s just too big. Sure I can plan and prepare, but I know there is so much more to what GOD does at Marannook. People’s lives are radically changed every summer! Campers hear the Word taught clearly, sometimes for the first time in their lives. Counselors study the Word in such depth that it changes how they view GOD, the world, and themselves. I can’t do any of that, and yet, I can take rest in that reality. I can’t do any of that, but HE can and will. HE promises that HIS Word will change people. My fear of weakness and failure leads me to trust the ONE that will never fail and that brings great comfort. If I stay in my fear, I will fail, but if I let my fear lead me to faith, I’ll grow as HE succeeds.

To GOD be the glory for the great things HE will do,

keith