“Happy New Year!” We say it to friends or people we meet but don’t know. Hopefully we mean it. We wish good things for those around us and vocalize that wish in a brief, frequently used phrase. It is not a bad thing, but like many other common things it can become trite. How do we avoid this very real possibility? Perhaps one good and positive thing that can come from our celebration of the Christmas and New Year holidays is a reexamination and reevaluation of our more common language, including the way we greet and say goodby to others. Greetings and farewells are largely a matter of habit. They role off our tongues and escape our lips with little involvement of our minds. “How ya doin'”, how’s it goin'”, “hey”, “what’s up” are all simply ways of saying “hello”. We do not usually want to know how someone is or what is happening in their lives. “See ya later”, “take care”, and others are ways of saying goodby. Only the strictest linguist and a few others would know that goodby is a shortened form of God bless you or more literally God be with you. These examples serve to remind us that language is important and that words mean things. In a day when language is used casually, flippantly, and even irreverently, this is important to remember. Those who follow Christ, of all people, should take what they say seriously. Our Lord has commanded us to let our “yes be yes and your no be no” and warned us that we will be justified or condemned by what we say. James warns us of the grave and frightening responsibility of the tongue and commands us to take its use seriously.
If you are still reading, you may be thinking of two questions. The first: “Is this man overdoing it a bit regarding the mere use of words?” The second: “What does this have to do with the New Year?” To the first I say that if words are of primary importance to our Lord, they ought to be no less important to us. We must think about what we say. Our words must be guided by the Scriptures and the Spirit not just in the way we speak of and to others but simply in the way we speak. Our words speak volumes about us and more importantly about our view of God. May the New Year see us using the wisdom of Christ in our speech and giving evidence of our reverence for Him.
To the second question I give this challenge. On the heals of this joyous season, let us be reminded of what it means to genuine bless others. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year should be more than traditional greetings and farewells, as pleasant as they may be. Let us embrace the opportunity to truly wish for and pray for the blessing and grace of Christ upon those God brings into our lives. Let us pray and search for Godly wisdom to turn these holidays into genuine holy days and seek His help in communicating the reality of Christ.
We often hear it said at Christmas, “It’s the thought that counts.” As we say goodby to the old year and embrace the new, may our words and actions betray the holy thoughts and motives of those who love the Lord our God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves.
Dear Friends of the Ministry,
I try to keep myself from asking the question, but when seemingly senseless things happen, it is hard not to ask “why?”.
For fourteen years, I gave my life in exactly the way I dreamed. I was the Pastor and preacher of a local church. Every week was a personal pursuit of a word from God’s Word for God’s people. There were no blue Mondays for this pastor. Monday’s were the start of another week of ministry.
But, it all came to an unexpected and undesired end almost exactly fourteen years after it started. My resignation, which I thought would be only a temporary interruption to the ministry I loved, lead to years of disappointment when door after door closed. The passing of the years did not bring the much-prayed for return to ministry but instead bouncing from this to that and not seeming to land anywhere. If you can bear to “watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop to build ‘em up with worn out tools”. Those words of Kipling became all to personal.
But while the circumstances of life changed, the purposes of God held fast. The vision to change the next generation for Christ was not quenched, nor did it diminish. In fact, it grew. The hope and prayer that God would use the Cavanaugh family to pass on a Gospel vision to the next generation did not just linger. It lived, grew, and flourished.
Ten years ago the years of prayer began to come to fruition as Vision4Living Ministries began. The prayer that we would touch the nations saw fruit as Daniel and Micah travelled the world to make Christ known. The prayer that we would encourage pastors in the work of the ministry has witnessed opportunities such as the annual ministers’ picnic and ongoing opportunities for fellowship and encouragement. The prayer to challenge the next generation of Christians has borne fruit through Vision4Living’s blog and CrossTalk, our weekly podcast.
The surprising thing to us has been how God has developed the ministry in ways we did not expect. The thing we thought would be the centerpiece of our efforts to change the next generation (Family Leadership Conference) fell by the wayside, while God has chosen to use Passion4Christ Summit to touch about 550 lives directly in the past ten years. Millennials have, in some cases, been introduced to strong Biblical teaching and challenged to see Biblical doctrine as life-changing and life-strengthening. They have also found P4C to be a source of encouragement in their Christian walk. One quiet young man thanked Daniel and me as we were packing up this year. Then he said; “I consider this the start of my year spiritually.” This was one of many encouraging comments which cannot all be shared here. But here is a sampling.
“Thank you for being passionate about encouraging young adults in their journey to serve Christ.”
“Thank you so much for everything you do to make this weekend happen! It is such a true and deep blessing.”
“P4C has been a blessing and encouragement and challenge to me in so many ways . . .”
And this one was directed specifically towards the mens’ breakout.
“Micah I also greatly remember your talk to the men Thursday morning and how our relationship with God is like keeping our bedroom clean and how it is so easy to say ‘Oh I’ll let it go this time’, but then you keep saying that and all the sudden your relationship is a wreck.”
These gracious comments represent what Vision4Living and Passion4Christ have meant and now mean to others. We say with the Psalmist; “This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Ps. 118:23). We trust that the work of the Gospel in our lives over the past thirty-eight years is now bearing fruit, and our prayer is that it will bear fruit in the generations to come. If it is so, it will be because the God of all grace is ministering His grace to us and through us. This is the vision of Vision4Living.
Will you prayerfully consider these “Reasons to Give” and share with us financially in the work of God’s grace in the coming year? It is as you stand with us that we can continue the work of touching the next generation for Christ. This last comment expresses our heart so well.
“Dear P4C Staff and Volunteers,
. . . I am so encouraged by the legacy of faithfulness this retreat represents ~ thank you for actively and passionately pursuing Christ and for intentionally challenging others to do the same.
May the Lord continue to strengthen you to fulfill what He has called you to do. Run the race with perseverance to win the prize, so that you may lay it at the feet of our King. He is being glorified by your lives, and may you finish strong and full of joy. ~ all for Him.”
May the Lord be pleased to make it so!
Serving with you,