I have never been more proud of a group of students than the 10 participants in NYCUP Summer 2017. They pressed into familial, relational, and social turmoil to hear from Jesus and seek His kingdom. Whether it was on the street with NYC Relief, in cubicles at Van Heusen, editing book proposals, or washing the dishes, I was privileged to witness the Lord at work in the hearts of the students and staff. I would love to celebrate the following key turns that will shape NYCUP for years to come!
Book Proposals Going Forward! 12 Lies That Hold America Together has been accepted by InterVarsity Press and Emotionally Healthy Activist received extremely positive feedback from Pete Scazzero. Both of these proposals will be moving forward in 2017-2018.
LoGOFF is Officially a Corporation! LoGOFF, the parent company to Good Journey Stores officially filed for incorporation.
Moving from a Christian Clique to a Covenant Community A proposal has been drafted for review by InterVarsity National to make what we do at NYCUP a formal part of our national movement.
Third Successful Year of Let's Talk Avodah Our 7 weeks of discipleship around faith and work was a great success with our partners at the Lambs Church. If we are able to find a strong candidate, we will expand this to a year-round program!
Those People Media Pilot. Our media pilot focused on (re)conciliation was profoundly successful. Podcasts, long form stories, and videos are in production for release this fall.
Along with these mountaintop moments, came deep formation in conflict. Here are three learnings from our 50 days of #PrayerfulResistance.
To Be Present is Necessary and Exhausting
As I mentioned during RecWeek 2017 and our 40 Days of Prayerful Resistance, there is invisible, unprocessed pain all around us. Rage and sadness right seem to be right under the surface for so many people; and if we feel seen, heard, and safe it just might come out. In addition to that, to be fully present and emotionally available to ourselves and those around us in joy and sorrow is exhausting and necessary to be fully human. I have no idea how Christ endured the knowledge of heaven in the presence of the Trinity and the depths of suffering in this world. My prayer, as reminded by one of our interns this summer is Lord Jesus, may Your joy be my strength.
My Identity is Still in My Productivity
I feel most seen, felt, heard, valued, validated, trusted, and celebrated when I work. Likes on Facebook, followers on Twitter, shares on our Facebook pages, text messages, phone calls, and verbal affirmation feed and stroke my ego. Being needed and wanted dictates how I see myself. This was no more evident than in the middle of our NYCUP Summer programming where I realized I scheduled 65 hours of work for myself.
As I sat with Katie and Josh (two interns), after being challenged by my wife to have integrity around a sustainable Rule of Life, I had to confess that I didn't know why I made this schedule. It takes Holy Spirit to convict of sin. I can't just figure it out. So as I spent time with Jesus, I realized that once again, I sought to abide in my work instead of Christ. I seek to prune myself, not to be refined by Holy fire. I would rather listen to a Ted Talk than sit in the presence of the Lord and wait for the voice of the Living God.
To paraphrase Olivia, one of our interns, what if I was able to find my identity apart from my accomplishments and accolades. What if I was truly able to live out of my adoption into the family of God? Lord have mercy, my life would be so different.
If I'm pursuing my Identity through productivity then I can't pursue Jesus or my wife.
And if I pursue my identity in accolades I cannot participate authentically in relationships. I cannot nurture a life with God or cultivate a spirituality that can sustain genuine engagement with myself and others. Instead, I will slave away to construct and maintain a false self that feigns for praise from those around me. Instead of a blessing, I become a parasite, doing good things for praise instead of serving to make Jesus famous.
My students, friends, wife and child reside downstream of a man focused on building his best self so they get nothing or just leftovers from me while I beg them for their best. I convert myself reputation into a golden calf that needs constant praise, lest I feel insignificant, disposable and unworthy. Lord have mercy.
Next Steps for Me
In the coming season, I must develop a rule of life that roots my identity in Christ and allow me to live sacrificially out of the sacrifice of Jesus. To do otherwise is to live in rebellion and disobedience.
At the same time, I must pray for God's provision of people and resources to bring the right people to help our work become truly sustainable. By inviting other people into this work, I live out the truth that I am not Jesus and this work is not contingent solely on me but obedience and submission to Jesus. How beautiful it would be to truly make His name famous instead of my own!
Thanks to all of your prayers, support and generosity! If you would like to join our prayer and intercession list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. And, if you would like to give towards the hiring of new staff, please click here!