Nearly six years ago Vision4Living ministries was begun with a vision for touching and changing the next generation for Christ. It has been our prayer that God would bring growth through expanding opportunities to spread the Gospel and serve the church of Jesus Christ. A faithful team of prayer partners has joined us, and God has been faithful to respond to our requests and open doors and bring growth to V4L. As 2013 ends and 2014 begins, it is worthwhile to reflect on God’s past blessings and to anticipate what The Lord has for us in the year ahead.
- Since the inaugural P4C in 2008, we have discipled and trained 500 young adults;
- Since traveling to Ecuador in 2010, we have reached over 2500 kids with the Gospel and trained 500 pastors, leaders, and parents;
- Through various speaking engagements and conferences in the last 5 years, we have reached a total of 3500+ people;
- Our blog now receives 1000+ hits a month;
- Since 2008, we have developed and launched the following resources that have had international influence – Passion4Christ Summit, Family Leadership Conference, Legacy 2014, and CrossTalk Podcast;
- 2014 holds these new opportunities: We will be hosting Family Leadership Conference in Tampa, FL and Legacy 2014 in Evansville, IN with a combined potential of reaching 800-1,000 individuals;
- Since 2010, we have networked and built solid relationships with 20 pastors and Christian leaders in our metro area, nationally, and internationally in in order to support and undergird the church.
These opportunities are gifts and tremendous responsibilities from our Heavenly Father. We are filled with gratitude at the blessings of the past year and the previous years that paved the way for our most significant year of growth. We are both grateful and somewhat overwhelmed at what lies before us and are looking to God for the grace, wisdom, and physical strength to address these challenges. We are looking to Him for the resources to invest in these opportunities. It may be that The Lord will use you to invest your resources in these kingdom opportunities with a view to the doors He is opening in 2014. May God be pleased to use these and other doors of ministry to fulfill the vision of touching and changing the next generation for Christ.
To God alone be glory,
Charles Cavanaugh, President
[Image courtesy of Leah Christine Imagery]
As we reflect on 2013 – all that has happened and the Lord’s faithfulness in each circumstance – we thought we’d take a jaunt down memory lane and revisit some of our top blog posts from the year…
[ By Daniel Cavanaugh]
Is this the question?
Actually, the issue is deeper than coffee. For the believer, we are dealing with a gospel engagement issue in the most recent wake of controversy over Starbucks long held view and support of same-sex marriage.
[By Pam Cavanaugh]
Do you remember when you were young and you got those big books with numbers and dots on the pages? You could not tell what the picture was until you connected all the dots. Our lives are like that – sometimes we are unable to see the whole picture of God’s plan for us.
[By Charles Cavanaugh]
Though I could not swim, I stepped into the gradually deepening water of the lake. I slowly walked away from the shore. What would it be like to wade up to my chest? Not bad. Maybe just a little farther; up to my shoulders. I was facing the shore but gradually moving backwards. Now I was to my chin, and the water was near my mouth. Something strange began to happen. It felt like a current was pulling me away from shore. I was on my tiptoes, and I could not seem to control where I was going. I was frightened beyond words; words which could not come out. I was desperate and helpless. I thought I was a goner.
Leading up to P4C13, we wanted to build the concept of the importance of the local church from a personal level – interviews with real people from a real local church. Why? Because this year’s theme was ‘The Body: God’s Plan for the Local Church’. So, in the months leading up to P4C13, we interviewed people from Westwood Church – the home church of the Cavanaugh family and we’ve collected those interviews for you here. Enjoy!
Christmas is not only a time to celebrate the incarnation of the Gospel but it is also a time to reflect on the work of the Gospel. And what a year it has been! 2013 has seen incredible growth and increased influence. At this time of the year, we at V4L are reflecting on what the Lord has done to increase the vision of affecting the next generation for Christ.
We have seen…
- The largest P4C ever
- The launching of the CrossTalk Podcast
- The launching of Legacy Conference 2014
- Continued networking with pastors and Christian leaders
But, we could not do it without our staff. They are invaluable and a true gift and blessing from the Lord. They are the reason things operate smoothly here at V4L and they make it a joy to do our work. So, our staff would like to take a little of your time to say Merry Christmas and Happy New year!
We are talking George Bailey, A Christmas Carol, Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand, and the generosity of Christmas all in one episode. Join Daniel & Charles as the discuss the incredible gift of grace that has been given.
Ever sense I was a kid, I can remember longing for Christmas day. It always seemed like it would take forever for Christmas to get here. I remember the adults declaring that the year always went by so fast. But it never quite seemed to be that way for me. Then Christmas would come and go and the yearlong anticipation would begin again. How I longed for Christmas.
Honestly, I have not changed when it comes to my longing for Christmas. I’m like a little kid. It’s absolutely my favorite time of the year. I will say this: the adult mantra that the year flies by so quickly seems to have overtaken me without my even noticing it. My life is flying by, but my enthusiasm for Christmas has remained in tacked. I enjoy each part to the fullest.
When I was a kid, I looked forward to opening presents on Christmas day and the abundance of sweets and baked goods that would fill our house. The traditions – made so wonderful and exciting by my dear mom – made the month of December a memorable one. There are memories that I can still bring to mind of Christmases long past. I absolutely loved helping my dad find those special gifts for my mom and found it so hard to keep it a secret leading up to the big day. And, I still enjoy those continued traditions – making new memories along the way. But my heart and viewpoint has changed. As I have grown in my walk with the Lord, Christmas has become so much richer and deeper in meaning as I celebrate it. When I was a kid, I did not know Christ in a saving way. Oh sure, I knew Christ had come as a little baby in that manger thousands of years ago, but, to me, its was all part of the fun.
Now it is my life, and the celebration is more joyous than I had ever known as a little kid. I am celebrating the magnificent grace of Christ that has come.
Anticipation and longing is something that has always characterized the “story of Christmas”. The Israelites longed for the promised Messiah that was foretold to them by the prophets. The book of Isaiah told of how the little Savior would come to this earth. And, he spoke of it in light of what the Savior would do to redeem men from their sins. He did come, but many of those who anticipated missed it. But for the world that longed for something they did not know, the mystery was revealed.
But what should our longing be as we celebrate Christmas this season? I think that our longing should be that of us as a little child – longing for Christmas morning. Let us, with child-like zeal, long to be more like Christ. Let us long for deeper fellowship because Christ IS making us more into His image. But as we celebrate this Christmas, let us remember that we not only celebrate the incarnation of Christ, we long for the return of our Savior when all that is in Christ will be consummated and our eyes will see in full. Let this be your longing until He comes again!
Humanly speaking the incarnation of Christ was impossible. Think about it: God became flesh. Born of a virgin. Conceived by the Holy Spirit. Not to mention, the culture norms that were blown a part. It was impossible on all fronts. Charles and Daniel discuss the absolute magnificence of the impossibility of Christmas.
The decorations are finally in place. I’m ready for Christmas to begin. I always put out framed pictures of the kids from Christmas long ago. Oh, how I miss when my boys were young.
As I think of how the time has flown by, I remember one particular tradition I started when they were young. I put together what I called the manger devotion. We built a small, very primitive manger trough to hold baby Jesus. My baby Jesus was a simple stuffed panty hose with magic marker face wrapped in muslin cloth. It was so simple to teach my children when they were young: nothing complicated or high-tech required in this family! 🙂
I would put an empty manger with no straw under the Christmas tree. My goal was to teach my children the Gospel and to build excitement about baby Jesus showing up in the manger on Christmas morn. I tried to take some attention off of just getting gifts. The greatest gift for their young lives would be Jesus.
A small basket of straw would be put beside the manger. If they were good during Christmas, each day they could put straw in the manger, preparing for Jesus’ arrival. I hid baby Jesus away. Now the lesson begins. We know that small children are not always good. And yes, none of us is good apart from what Christ has done on the cross to pay for our sins and bring us redemption. I wanted to show my children God’s mercy towards us. “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in mercy” (Ps.145:8). “For Your mercy is great above the heavens, and Your glory reaches unto the clouds” (Ps. 108:4).
Days when they should not have been allowed to put straw in the manger, I showed mercy to them by letting them fill up the manger. We would talk about the Gospel, the precious gift we have been given in Jesus Christ. “But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem those that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 3:4-5).
This Christmas, I am smiling because my sons are grown now, but the Gospel is real in their lives, and they live and serve Jesus. That makes for a very merry Christmas for this Mom.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I absolutely love Christmas. It truly is the “most wonderful time of the year”! I am like a little kid in a candy store when it comes to Christmas. I thoroughly enjoy every aspect. And, though I have worked in retail for the last three years, I have refused to let retail destroy all that I hold dear about Christmas. I love to hear the soft voice of Nat King Cole singing “The Christmas Song” or watch for the hundredth time Erving Berlin’s “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby and Danny Kay. In fact, Bing Crosby is about as synonymous with Christmas as decorated trees and presents. There is nothing quite like the smell of baked goods floating through the house was we get closer to the big day! Even better, there is the nostalgia of placing an old Christmas record of Dean Martin on the turn table and listening to the crackling of the record as it fills the room with the his sultry voice. And I don’t even mind the traffic or battling the crowds as I look for that perfect gift for those I love. I love snow. And when snow and Christmas decide to have a reunion, it is even better. Oh yes, and did I mention that I decorate my room for Christmas? Then there are Christmas parties with family and friends, which are in abundance. Yes, there is nothing like Christmas…
But in all of this, there is something that I am realizing afresh as I enjoy the traditions of Christmas this year: I need Christmas. Not just the traditions of Christmas, but the advent of Christmas – the coming of our dear little Savior. The sweet and innocent child that came, born of lowly and humble origins, so that I might know the forgiveness of my sins. And this was how it had to be so that the Man Child might fulfill all and purchase our redemption.
I have been renewed in my delight of the true reality of Christmas in my devotional readings of John Piper’s ‘Good News of Great Joy’. Piper puts it best this way:
“Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight. It will not have its intended effect until we feel desperately the need for a Savior. Let…short Advent meditations help awaken in you a bittersweet sense of need for the Savior.”
So as I reflect on why I love Christmas so much, I realize that the joy that I experience at this time of the year is because of the redemption of my heart, soul, and mind. Though I do not see as I should, I see in part. And that is because of the glorious unmerited grace of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Even in the “trivial” things that I love so much about Christmas, there is joy because ultimately it is the celebration of and the reminder that Christ has come, died, and rose again so that I might know salvation [Luke 1:16-17]. The “trivial” things of Christmas are not trivial anymore. They are redeemed. I have a new perspective – a mind that is being renewed [Romans 12]. And this is why I have always and still do need Christmas.
Christmas is filled with tradition and festivity. It is also filled with Scrooges. Then you have those who question the need for Christmas. But have we every stop to think about the necessity of Christmas? Join Charles and Daniel as the explore why it is that we need to consider our need for Christmas.
“I’m just too busy.” “I would, but I don’t have time.” Sound familiar? Most of us who are working to make a living and keep up with the responsibilities of life have said something like that, probably many times. Work, work, and even some play can keep us running, and often the most important things are left on the shelf. How can I hope to live a Christ-centered life and lead a Christ-centered home.
The word may be over used, but you must be intentional. Yes, for the most part, we do what is important to us. We are intentional about eating, watching our favorite team, planning our vacation, golf (or whatever), and, yes men, that too. There is probably not a time in the year when we saying “I’m too busy” is more appropriate than during the Christmas season. We are busy, and I enjoy it. And what better time to begin practicing or to renew the practice of being intentionally Christ-centered? For the follower of Christ, there is every reason to think Christologically and incarnationally. The “Christ with us motif” is purposefully emphasized during Advent, but this should only serve to motivate us to live it all year long.
So I challenge you men to develop the habit of Christ-centered conversation, Christ-centered conduct, Christ-centered living. Ask God for an unsurpassed passion for your Savior, and passionately speak of Him at every opportunity: on the way to school, at the table, on vacation, at bed time, when you are opening your Christmas presents. Make it evident to your spouse and children that Christ is more than a Christmas character; that He is your life.
Single parents, your obstacles are different but your opportunity is the same. Keep Christ at the center of your thinking and living. Let it be evident to your children that, no matter what, Christ is your all. Communicate your passion for Him this season and throughout the year. And trust Him to glorify Himself in you and your family. If you lift up Christ, He will draw others, including your family, to Himself.
Yours for Christ’s glory,