December 2008


The other night my girlfriend and I were driving back to Illinois to visit my family. We stopped along the way to visit some of her family in the Twin Cities, and then left for Illinois in the mid-afternoon.

We settled in for, what we thought would be, a nice seven hour drive. We realized quickly, as we sat in Twin Cities’ gridlock, that we might be in for a long day.

After we broke free from the traffic, we were soon encountered with an even worse problem…fog. This was not just a few little patchy wisps of light fog either. This was the definition of pea soup.

People were creeping along the highway, trying to see the white lines and braking quickly as they realized they were about to miss their exit.

But then I made a realization. My GPS navigation device acted like a set of eyes for me, showing me well in advance when I should expect the road to curve, and alerting me when my exit was approaching.

Once I made that realization, our drive got a lot smoother. I still wasn’t able to drive the speed limit, and our trip still took a few hours longer than we thought it would, BUT we made it safe and sound, and the fog actually cleared for the home stretch.

Here’s how this has affected me:

– never take for granted the ability to see clearly while driving
– go out and get a GPS right now!

On a deeper level…
I wonder if this is an allegory of our walk with Christ.
When it is hard to see we get frustrated and it seems to ruin our plans. BUT if we would look to Christ (modeled here by my GPS – I know it’s cheesy but give me a break) He would show us the way through the fog.

And as the fog gets thicker and thicker, we need direction more and more. Often we are resistant to someone telling us what to do, but the sooner we realize that Christ has our best interest in mind, the sooner He will be able to navigate us through the fog of life.

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Here’s an article I wrote a while back for an online magazine edited by one of best friends.  It just popped into my head tonight as I’m working late, so I thought I’d share it with you all.

Happy reading, and may you all step boldly into the pool.

“The only thing louder in that moment than the beating of my heart was the deafening silence coming from everyone around me. I stood there with several of my best friends in the world, all of us waist deep in the cool water of a pool in the early morning. We were waiting…”

…Read the rest of the article here…

If you or someone you know is wading through life in a state of – what I like to call – postmodern skepticism, then you should read Wade Bradshaw’s Searching for a Better God  (Authentic Publishing, 2007). 

The work itself is fairly short on length, but long on depth.  

Bradshaw highlights the issue that we are all searching for what he calls “a better hope.” His perspective is largely sociological in nature, and given his veterinary background, his reasoning and logic are pure are hard to quarrel with.  

Bradshaw obviously has experience in dealing with the “hard questions.”  He answers them skillfully and thoroughly.  

He draws an interesting distinction between what he calls the “Old Story” – i.e., that God’s very existence is what is at question – and the “New Story”  – i.e., that God’s virtue is what is at question.  The difference seems subtle at first, but as Bradshaw elaborates, it becomes obvious to any reader that he is describing accurately the predominant viewpoint in today’s postmodern emergent culture.  

Oftentimes I find myself hopeless in the quest to articulate answers to these tough questions like: “Is God Angry? Is God Distant? Is God a Bully?”  Bradshaw provides clear, thorough answers to these questions from multiple perspectives and suggests that there exists a path, through wisdom, which will guide us to place of further understanding. 

Overall, the work is weighty in nature, but not too much to digest.  I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who deals regularly with postmoderns, or anyone who considers himself a postmodern.  

Here’s a quote from the book that sums up, in my opinion, Bradshaw’s thesis: “Two stories, three paths, but really only one human condition: living in a dying, cooling world and in need of a better hope” (40).

Check it out here.

I’m reviewing this book as part of my involvement as an Ooze blogger, check out what’s going on over there too.  

“When the song of the angels is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone, When the kings and princes are home, When the shepherds are back with their flock, The work of Christmas begins: To find the lost, To heal the broken, To feed the hungry, To release the prisoner, To rebuild the nations, To bring peace among others, To make music in the heart.”
– Howard Thurman

Big News!

This past month God has been doing so much in my life and in the life of our ministry here at CTI.  Recently, CTI was able to increase the amount of benefits they are giving me to include a base salary, in addition to my support-raising.  I am still raising support to supplement this salary, but having this guaranteed money every month is a huge blessing!

CTI is in the midst of an interim structure following the departure of our former president, David Lanning.  Currently, my direct supervisor, Chris Reed, is acting as the Executive Vice-President.  This means that I have been handling a lot of the day-to-day type tasks, while he focuses on bigger picture things. 

This has been a wonderful time for all of us here at CTI, as we are continually rediscovering why it is that we love this ministry.  One of the main fruits of this rediscovery process has been a more clearly defined vision for our ministry.  Suffice it to say, it’s an exciting time to be here at CTI and the Lord is doing wonderful things through this ministry. 

 

14:21 heads east on Fall Tour

Early on the morning of November 1st, Team 14:21 loaded up their van to head out for Guttenberg, Iowa, the first stop on their Fall Tour.  From there, they continued to work their way eastward.  They spent time in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.  While in these places the team got to minister in Christian schools, churches, homeless shelters, rescue missions and even a public school!

From Michigan, the team crossed over into Canada.  After crossing the border, they spent almost two weeks ministering to our neighbors to the north.  While there, the team played in a number of different types of venues.  They also saw a lot of CTI alumni along the way. The team also got to have a day off to go sight-seeing, which they took full advantage of, by going to Niagara Falls.  They also experienced the Canadian sensation of Tim Horton’s.

After crossing back over into the United States, the team got to spend American Thanksgiving with the family of one of their own teammates, Christian Harger.  Some of the team members are from warmer southern climates, so they were pleasantly surprised when they had a snowy Thanksgiving. 

Team members report new mindsets, wonderful ministry moments both outside and inside the team, and a new understanding of what it means to be a minister of the Gospel.

 

Some Life Changes For Paul

Until this point in my employment with CTI, I have been living in an apartment attached to the CTI Office.  As of the publication date of this update, I am in the process of finalizing the details of the purchase of my new home!

As of right now, I am scheduled to close on the place on December 22nd of this year!  Merry Christmas to me!  Of course, nothing is final until the actual closing, but I am hopeful that everything will work out as the Lord wills it!

The whole process of looking for a place of my own has been such a faith-growing experience.  It is impossible to see how things have happened and not give the credit to God.  He is so good and so faithful to me!

Specific Prayer Requests

                       Our Winter Partnership Drive

                       The team members’ travels home for Christmas Break

                       The details of my house closing

                       CTI’s continued restructuring process

 

14:22 Heads West for Fall Tour 

Team 14:22 started their Fall Tour a little closer to home in nearby Prinsburg, MN.  But within 48 hours they were all the way out in Montana! From Montana they headed all the way to the Pacific Coast, in Seattle.  They even spent a weekend playing concerts on an island in Puget Sound!

From Seattle they worked their way back east, and actually made it into Canada for a few days also!  They ministered in prisons, detention centers, schools, colleges and churches throughout the Northwest. 

 

How to Support Paul:

Sign up online to be a monthly supporter:  Go to www.ctimusic.org/donate.   Click on “automatic recurring gift” to set up a monthly

draft from your credit or check card.  (You can also manage your monthly gift manually, by mail if you’d prefer- just follow the appropriate

link.)  Be sure to fill “Paul Vasilko” in the “staff member support” blank.

 

*You can make a ONE-TIME (non-recurring) gift at any time – just go to the donate page and click “one-time online donation.”

 

Friendly reminder: This is a tax-deductible gift.  If you are looking for a destination for your year-end giving, consider making a donation to my support account!

 

 

The stories told above illustrate God’s never-ending faithfulness to us.  You’ve read stories about team members who have had their lives changed by Grace and shared that Grace with others.  You’ve also read stories about the evidence of God’s Grace in my own life. 

 

The work that I do, and (indirectly) the work that the team members do, is supported by your generosity so it wouldn’t be possible without your giving! 

 

Have a blessed Christmas season!  Thanks again for everything!

I get to work with amazing young people who are doing amazing things to fulfill Christ’s Comission to make disciples of all nations!  

Check out the following video blog posts from our teams about their time overseas!  

Team 14:21’s video about their time in Taiwan

Team 14:22’s video about their time in The Philippines

Enjoy!