We put a BIG emphasis on our prayer ministry at Lumenations. We all know that the ONLY way the vision and mission of Lumenations will be accomplished is to be completely dependent upon the Spirit’s provision, direction and strength - and the key connection to that is through the power of prayer. So we have a prayer team and we want to do everything we can to make sure our prayer team is active and knows our prayers needs. (want to join? CLICK HERE and sign up)
Every member of our prayer team has signed up to pray on a certain day of the week and, each week on that day, the receive a reminder e-mail from us. That e-mail includes a picture with a scripture or relevant quote. This coming week, they’ll receive this picture - read below it for the idea behind the picture.
Each day, I try to read a bit of O.T., a bit of Wisdom lit., more than “a bit" of the Gospels and then a bit of the N.T. letters. My New Testament readings brought me to a couple of passages that I had never thought of in relation to each other.
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. - Jesus' message to Nicodemas in John 3:8
My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. - God’s message to Paul in 2 Cor. 12:9b
Around the time I read this I also received an e-mail from my favorite royalty-free stock photo site, unsplash.com (see pic above).
It got me thinking about the idea of God’s “power working best in weakness” in relation to a windmill. A windmill is created specifically to work with wind - no wind, no power. It has NO strength, no power on it’s own. It does not have the ability to produce it’s own power, but it CAN keep the wind from producing power through it by getting “stuck”, locked up and not moving. We are created to be vessels of power in the Spirit of Christ alone. We can’t offer anything worthwhile in our own strength but when we release ourselves and allow the “wind” to move through us, then the lights turn on! …power!
I pray that we can operate on “wind power”. May the Spirit of Lord blow through us and through every aspect of our Lumenations ministry.
I had a great day this past Sunday speaking at The Rock Campus Church in Columbia, Missouri. Mizzou has a beautiful campus and I got to see a lot of beautiful people in love with Jesus and connected to His heart for the Nations!
Note from Ken:
I will be speaking at The Rock Campus Church in Columbia, Missouri on the campus of Mizzou this Sunday morning. As I was doing some final preparations for my lesson, I came across this great quote from one of my heroes, C. T. Studd, that I had not seen before:
“The “romance” of a missionary is often made up of monotony and drudgery; there often is no glamour in it; it doesn’t stir a man’s spirit or blood. So don’t come out to be a missionary as an experiment; it is useless and dangerous. Only come if you feel you would rather die than not come. Don’t come if you want to make a great name or want to live long. Come if you feel there is no greater honor, after living for Christ, than to die for Him.”
C.T. Studd left a life of luxury and fame to serve his Lord and inspire many others to do so. He spent 10 years in China, 8 years in India and 20 years in Africa. He obviously felt he would rather die than not join Jesus in this great commissioning. He died in the Belgian Congo, a missionary to the end.
We love “sending churches” and we love helping churches send well! This is an area of the ministry of Lumenations that I, personally, am so passionate about. I’ve been blessed to have open doors from several different churches to come in and lead their annual missions conference (check out this fun video I did for one of them late last year). I will be heading up to Columbia, Missouri to speak at The Rock Campus Church next month on missions. If you would like to have me (Ken) and Lumenations help with your church, let me know!
We’ve recently been blessed with an opportunity to help our home church engage with their domestic and foreign missionaries. Here are two new videos we did for their “Missions Sunday” this past week.
Video 1: What is Missions?
Video 2: Why is important to pray? (for our missionaries)
We are so proud of our girl Jalynn (11). She committed her life to Jesus and followed His example and command in baptism today.
WRITTEN BY KEN SHACKELFORD
I was blessed to be in Ozark, Missouri earlier this week and teach lesson 4 of Perspectives to the 40+ who are having their life “ruined for the ordinary”. Lesson 4 focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus and how He perfectly displayed God’s heart for every tribe, tongue and nation. We spend a lot of time on His “Mandate on the Mountain”, the Great Commission, and show that this co-mission is at the center of what his ministry training was all about.
Each time I teach this lesson, God reveals something new and fresh to me about what I am teaching. This time around, it has to do with the verse just before Christ’s commissioning in Matthew 28. In verse 17, it says, “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him…” Of course, this is what you would expect of people who had been with the Messiah for years, witnessed His brutal death and now see Him alive and well! But that is not the end of the verse! The three words just before this commission are, “but some doubted.”
Doubt?! What? How could the disciples standing in front of the resurrected Christ have any ounce of doubt? If they doubt, what hope is there for me 2,000 years after the fact reading this ancient Book? It is interesting to note how Jesus, who surely knew that they doubted, dealt with their doubt. Did He tell them that they are of no use to Him until that can “just get over it” and really believe? No. He tells these doubters, along with everyone else, to “go and make disciples.”
The theologian Paul Tillich says that “Doubt is not the opposite of faith, it is an element of faith.” If you have no doubts at all, you have no need of faith, you just simply know. While we are living in this fleshly shell and walking through this fallen world, doubt will be with us. This is why we need faith! Faith, hope and love are indeed great, but love is the greatest because faith and hope are temporary. They are only needed while we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” [Phil. 2:12b] When we stand in white robes with the multitudes from every nation, worshiping Christ with the angels, our doubts will vanish. When we enter the gates of Heaven, our hopes will be realized. Then there is simply the fullness and completeness of eternal LOVE.
But for now, Jesus knows that He can work with those of us who doubt. He tells the doubters to join Him in His mission: to make disciples of every people group, to baptize them and teach them to walk in loving obedience alongside their new adopted family of God.
There is a saying in the south, “A dog in the hunt don’t scratch for fleas.” Doubts nag at us like fleas on a dog. If we just sit around the “barn yard” (a.k.a. church pew) as a passive believer, then the nagging doubts, among other issues, will become our focus. If we, instead, do what we were created to do - worship Jesus and join Him in His mission, then we will scarcely notice the doubts and our faith will be strengthened.
Even if our doubts loom large and our faith seems as small as a mustard seed, Jesus knows He can do great things with us, in us, and through us for the Kingdom of God. Don’t wait for doubt to cease before you obey Christ’s call to “GO”. Obey this great “co-mission”. Look and see what God can do through you, …in spite of your doubts!
Pics above: Teaching Perspectives Lesson 4 in Ozark, MO.
During our morning prayer walks a few weeks ago, Tanja and I specifically prayed that God would open doors to me to connect with some Communications/Media Production students at nearby Harding University. God answers prayers! I had a chance to speak to over 50 of them this past week.
INTRODUCING THE LEONG FAMILY!
We are so excited to have Aaron and Kimberly Leong and son Ezra become part of the Lumenations family! They live in the San Francisco Bay-area and are part of the church in Walnut Creek where Ken ministered in the 1990s. When Ken visited there earlier this year, Aaron was intrigued by the vision of Lumenations and felt an almost immediate God-call. He and Kimberly have decided to take a leap of faith and join Lumenations. Aaron, with his deep love for the Lord and God's global Kingdom, is a very obvious answer to prayer. His background in engineering and curriculum/training design; his experience with media production from his YouTube channel; and his pioneering spirit and willingness to join this "brand new thing” make him a perfect fit.
HERE ARE THEIR STORIES:
FROM AARON: I am a 42-year old, somewhat politically-incorrect Chinese-Malay male. I was born and raised in Malaysia to missionary parents, then later as a preacher's kid, with all the foibles that come with that upbringing! By my side, I have a beautiful, highly intelligent, and God-driven wife, Kimberly, who strives to serve her family and His calling to the best of her abilities. We also have a 10-year old rambunctious son, Ezra, who loves life, aircraft, Lego, and sports.
I was baptized at 12, but truly came to faith and developed a really tight relationship with God and His Spirit much later at the end of my first marriage. However, I know that God has been fighting for my heart, as well as directing my life path towards Him since the beginning. Lumenations is just such an example of how He continues to mold me in ways I've never expected. I may have lived the majority of my life focused as an engineer and curriculum developer in the secular world but I have seen little (and big) nudges - through personal revelations, church activities, professional direction, and encouragement from friends and family - into a life of serving Him in a more dedicated capacity.
Lumenations is a huge draw to my wife and me because of its mission to mobilize local Christians to gather, develop, encourage, and multiply in an old-school biblical church sort of way. For myself personally, I see my role on the training team of Lumenations satisfying two curiosities (for the lack of a better word) - firstly, I haven't seen many, if any, effective missions courses created by professional curriculum designers, which means the opportunity is ripe to innovate and meld professional methodologies into the context of missions and religion. Secondly, I foresee many lessons to be learned from developing curriculum in missions that can be shared with and applied with the “mainstream”. Finally, I'm just excited to see where God takes this and takes us - it may be far-reaching, it may be short-lived, it may flourish in ways we never expected - but whatever comes, it's going to be a journey to remember!
Kimberly grew up and went to college in Michigan, then moved to Colorado for graduate school. Halfway through her graduate program, she felt God telling her that he wanted her elsewhere - she left that graduate program, sold or gave away most of what she owned, and joined the Peace Corps, spending over 2 years teaching Deaf children in Kenya. That experience was life-changing: hearing God’s call, dropping everything to follow it, then daily life doing a difficult job she felt under-qualified to do in a small village hours from any other foreigner. It strengthened her faith, relationship with God and dependence on HIm. And it got her hooked on the excitement and joy of putting her life in God’s hands, wherever it may lead even (and especially) when it’s scary and something she couldn’t or wouldn’t do on her own!
After returning from Kenya, Kimberly has been dedicated to doing her best to listen to God in all areas of her life. She went back to a different graduate school and program and is now a teacher for deaf and hard of hearing infants, toddlers, and their families. Aside from her childhood in Michigan, she has lived in 3 other countries (U.K., Kenya, and Switzerland) and 5 U.S. states (Colorado; Wisconsin; Washington, D.C.; Indiana; and California).
God brought us together in 2013 and one of the things we had in common was a desire to work in international missions and to do so in an ethical way. Through our backgrounds and experiences living in and observing a variety of missionaries in other countries, we've learned to value local people, their cultures, and their experiences. We wanted to avoid inadvertently propagating an impression of foreigners as experts, bringing with us the issues and cultural baggage of our home churches, and teaching more of our country’s culture and traditions than God’s word. And we certainly did not want to create a situation where people focus more on the missionary than the message.
Lumenations is the opportunity we’ve been waiting for - a project that capitalizes on my expertise in curriculum development and media creation, and empowers local Christians to reach out to their neighbors, allowing the focus to be on God and not the messenger.
Blessed to be back in Kansas City with my All Nations Family leading a training session during their amazing "CPx" (Church Planting Experience)
We are so very excited to announce that our four new additions - Jalynn, Josie, Bryan and Elly - are now officially SHACKELFORDS!! We are so blessed to permanently add the four beautiful children to our family. Thank you for your prayers during this almost 2 year process!
I just arrived in Rwanda last night and I am staying in a Catholic hostel run by Rwandan nuns. Due to jet lag waking me up early, I was able to enjoy the cool morning Breeze and the Beautiful Morning worship have the voices of nuns and the beat of drums. If you get a chance, turn the volume up on this video I took with my phone.
Because of the amount of preparation, planning and resources that will have to be gathered before there is a “product” to show, it is important for those involved with Lumenations, to understand that this is not just media production. There is a crucial life-changing ministry that will be happening even as stories are gathered and training resources are developed. Through our time of networking with groups and traveling around the world, the light and love of Christ will be shared. We will encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in difficult circumstances and engage with the global body of Christ in many different positive ways. Here is a list of different groups that Lumenations will be engaging with and the service we hope to give even as we receive their amazing God-stories.
- KINGDOM WORKERS AROUND THE GLOBE: A primary focus of our ministry will be for believers around the globe who are laboring to advance the Kingdom of God. Our resources will eventually be available to as many people, cultures and languages as possible - not just for other ethnic groups to “receive” what is produced but for them to help in the production of it. This will be a truly global project. We will minister to the missionaries and their families and tell their stories as well. We will connect with the “story-makers”, the local indigenous leaders who God is using to do amazing Kingdom work. We will seek ways to not only tell their story but to encourage them as we do. When the media footage is gathered from these places, it will be used for far more than our own training resources. We will make it a priority to find ways to bless their ministry first and foremost. The footage will be used in every way possible to help those on the field: training, evangelism, frontier mobilization, encouragement and fund raising.
- LOCAL CHURCHES: We will work with churches here in the states and around the globe. We hope to help them be better “sending churches” - more closely connected to missions and the missionaries they support. Training opportunities will be offered even before our resources are completed. Short-term mission trip opportunities will be offered as well. For example, if we hear of some great God-stories happening somewhere in the world, we will try to get the church or churches who support that work better connected to it. Coordination of a “story gathering trip” might be arranged with them or with our team possibly joining them on a trip they already have planned. If the church is large enough to have a media team, we may train them to do the “story gathering” for us. When the trip is done and the footage is in hand, the media can be developed specifically for the church to encourage their members, inform them of the mission they're supporting, and help raise awareness of what their missionaries are doing. Our networking with churches will also give their members the opportunity to join Lumenations in whatever way they might feel called. (see the Professionals group below)
- CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITIES AND CAMPUS MINISTRIES: There will be a variety of ways to engage with university students. Opportunities for short-term mission trips will be offered as well as internship opportunities. For example, we would love to work with various departments at Christian universities to design internships for Bible majors, graphic design majors, media production majors, computer science majors and many more. This would be mutually beneficial, offering us an inexpensive and enthusiastic work force while also helping the student see how their giftings and passions can be used for exciting and strategic Kingdom mission! The specific work that they are involved in and the media and training resources that comes out of that can also be used by the universities for their own promotional and training needs. For the intern, it can be a great start to their portfolio.
- MISSION AGENCIES AND GLOBALLY FOCUSED PARA-CHURCH ORGANIZATIONS: Our desire is to connect and network with as many Kingdom-minded global organizations as possible. We especially want to work with those focused on reaching the unengaged and unreached peoples of the world and to do that through disciple-making and church-planting movements. These groups will typically be connected to great stories around the world that can benefit our needs and they (and their missionaries) can benefit from our media and training. Beyond that, we will do our best to minister to them - their leaders, their staff and their global workers. These are people who pour themselves out for global Kingdom work and it will be a blessing to pour into them and encourage them.
- PROFESSIONALS: Our mission is help people engage with their co-mission with Jesus, no matter what their profession is. We hope to develop a network that will include professionals who can offer various levels of volunteer service - something yearly, monthly or to just be “on call”. There will be specific professions that we can especially benefit from partnering with. It is our prayer that they will benefit from “catching the vision” and put their giftings to great use for a global ministry that will have a positive impact on the Kingdom of God. Here is a list of groups I foresee us specifically seeking to connect with and work with:
- Creative Professionals:
- Media Production Pros
- Illustrators, Animation Specialists
- Graphic Design Pros
- Writers, Scriptwriters
- Sound Engineers and Recording Artists, Musicians
- Tech Industry Professionals:
- Web Developers
- App Developers
- I.T. Pros
- Finance / Business / Administration
- MINISTRY TO OUR TEAM: In time we hope to grow a team who call Lumenations home. The team will most likely be spread out around the globe. Caring for our team physically, emotionally and spiritually will be a high priority and a significant ministry as well.
I'm super excited to visit our dear friends and family in Christ in California. I will be speaking the next two Sundays at the two churches I was blessed to work with in the the 90s: Ham Lane Church of Christ in Lodi, CA on Sunday, April 29 and Walnut Creek Church of Christ in Walnut Creek, CA on Sunday, May 6. For those of you who are still around that area, I would love to see you! ~ Ken
I took thousands of pictures during my time in Albania. I believe this is my favorite. It captures what our time was all about - the joy of relationships when Jesus is in the mix. I am preparing to teach Perspectives Lesson 11 in Columbia, MO this weekend, "Building Bridges of Love." When I was a minister at New Heights Church, we used to say "Truth travels best on the road of realtionships." In Albania, we would say we build bridges of trust that can bear the burden of truth. It all boils down to this, the good news of Jesus is about relationship - relationship with Him, relationships with each other. I like what New Heights' web-site now says: Love God passionately, love people tangibly.