Thursday, July 21, 2022
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes…” – Revelation 7:9
Do you ever wonder if you’re really accomplishing anything? I do. Do you ever feel like the Lord has put you in a place where everything you are supposed to be doing is something you just aren’t good at or equipped for? I do. Sometimes the Lord gives us little glimpses of what He is doing, but not always. When I read where Paul was told “My grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in weakness” I’m like…yeah that’s good for Paul who knew deep down that he wasn’t really weak…right? When I think of the Apostle Paul, weak is the last thing that comes to mind, but I’m starting to think that Paul probably saw himself differently. Maybe when he talked about only boasting in the cross, he wasn’t just speaking platitudes because he knew he could take credit for so much more…he really did feel like he didn’t deserve credit for anything.
In the past few weeks I’ve been struck with the degree to which I really don’t feel qualified for anything that I’m doing right now! I’ve had seasons where I’ve thought “Wow, now THIS is what I was made for” but this is not one of those seasons. Pretty much every area of responsibility I have today involves a steep learning curve, and it’s hard to find a place to stand!
Last week I was working on SalesForce, which is part of what I am doing for our new Pioneers team. When I talked to one of their nonprofit employees who helps people get started, he said “Most nonprofits I talk to don’t have somebody with your level of understanding” and it felt like he was either trying to be nice…or saying they all know more than I do!
Later that week, while running errands with the boys in the car, I was listening to a book called Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. Here I am today as a student in the course that I should eventually be able to lead, and the author of this book was one of the speakers in the course material. The boys were in the backseat playing as I listened to the book, and then all of a sudden Ezekiel said “Dad can you pause this?” I thought he was getting bored with it, but he had actually been listening and wanted to clarify that he was hearing it right! People actually believe that Jesus is the Messiah, Word of God, sinless, born of a virgin, coming back to judge the world, and yet ISN’T God and didn’t die for sins? I got very little work done that day because Ezekiel spent 3-4 hours listening, stopping, asking questions, backing up to listen some more, and comprehending things that so many adults have trouble with.
Are you in Christ? If you are, God is not inactive. In his immutability, he is so infinitely active that He could never be more or less so. Despite our weakness, insecurity and failure, God chose to use you, and me, for His kingdom…believe it or not. Justin Culp
Friday, June 24, 2022
What would it mean to you to “get your life right”? If you woke up one morning and said “Finally, I’ve gotten my life right, now I can follow God.” What would it take for you to be able to say that?
This is part of a conversation I had this week when I was selling off one of our used vehicles. I listed the vehicle for sale online and 3 hours later I was riding in the passenger seat with a man who wanted to buy it. He asked me what I did for a living and I told him, and he said “Man I just can’t get away from you church people.” I asked him what he meant and he started tearing up, telling me about problems at work and home. I offered to pray for him and he said “I know what I need to do, I just need to get my life right, I’ve got a lot of problems.”
I asked my new friend what he meant and he said “I just have to stop doing some stuff.” When I asked him what he had to stop doing he just got kind of uncomfortable. I said “Can I help you with that?” He said sure, and I explained the gospel to him. The gospel is not “get my life right and God will accept me.” If someone preaches that to you, that person is preaching a false gospel. Jesus condescended himself to humanity so that he could fully and completely bear the sin, sorrow and shame of mankind. Those who hear the gospel and turn from their sin to follow Christ and faith are consequently hidden in Christ with God. That means that all of the righteousness and obedience that belonged to Jesus when God looked down from heaven and said “This is my son in whom I am well pleased” belongs to you if you belong to Christ.
Those sins that you need to “make right” are wrong and harmful and worth getting rid of, but trying to do it by your own strength in order to “get your life right” is like a snake eating his own tail. Jesus makes you righteous, Jesus gives you the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit gives you the conviction and power (through those sufferings and trials of life, work, church, family, and so on) to have victory over sin and shame as you rely more and more on Him to redeem your utter wickedness. That’s the gospel. That’s why we do what we do. That’s why we get up every morning. That’s why all of this is worth it.
Justin, Amy, Ezekiel and Caleb Culp
Sunday, May 29, 2022
Sunday, March 27, 2022
A few weeks ago we were getting ready to have our nightly family Bible time. Amy and Ezekiel were still getting ready, so it was just Caleb and me in the living room. I asked Caleb, “If Jesus came back to Earth right now, do you think you would go to heaven?” He said yes. I asked him why and he said “Because Jesus died for our sins.” I said “For everybody’s sins?” He said yes. I said “So everybody gets to go to heaven?” He said “No, only people who repent and believe in Jesus.” I said “Have you repented?” He said “Well, yes I did…” and I said “So when you stand in front of God, are you going to have sin?” He said no. I asked him why and he said “I repented.” Then I said “Have you sinned since you repented?” He said “Well obviously.” I said “So what about that sin?”
He paused for a while and then said “I don’t know.” I got my Bible out to start Bible time because Ezekiel had joined us, but Ezekiel stopped me and said “Daddy can I try?” I said sure, and Ezekiel said something like this: When Jesus died and rose from the dead, He had victory over sin and death. When I repent and believe in Jesus, He isn’t just forgiving my old sins, it’s like when God looks at me instead of seeing my sin, He sees Jesus’ perfectness.” When I finished crying, we had family Bible time.
I love that my nine-year-old already understands imputed righteousness better than a whole bunch of people five times his age. Because Jesus’ perfect record is mine, I have the authority (and responsibility) to preach the gospel regardless of what kind of morning I’ve had, or how ministry is going, or how capable or dumb or strong or worthless I am feeling at the time. That’s been my meditation for quite some time now.
I got back from Uganda and South Sudan at the beginning of March and then the kids had spring break. I’ve started learning the new things I need to know for my role on the Encountering the World of Islam team, and have been trying to get in touch with churches and others to find opportunities to share and raise more support. Thank you all for praying for us and keeping in touch. It means the world!
Monday, February 28, 2022
Caleb made an “Exploding Potion” for his school science fair this year.
By now most of you know about the transition that we are
going through as a family. After
extending our home assignment for a while to handle some educational and health
issues, and then adding “Maybe another few months” for a while, we were told
that we need to plan on spending a couple of years in the USA while we work
some of these things out.
You can probably imagine
some of the range of emotions we’ve experienced during this process, other
experiences surrounding “re-entry” as it applies to relationships and everyday
life are a bit harder to relate to. We
do appreciate all of the encouraging conversations we’ve had with our
supporters, and the time you spend keeping up with us and praying.
I am writing this newsletter from Uganda, I have been in Africa for the last few weeks. I had to come back and close down our home. Anything we leave behind will get destroyed by rats and termites, so most of my time was spent deciding what to throw away, give away, sell away and pack away. I was able to spend a few evenings having supper with other missionary friends which was nice. After twelve years, these Germans, Kiwis and South Africans are people I can easily enjoy and relate to, while at “home” it feels way more difficult. I had a few tearful goodbyes with Paul and Michael and Teresa. Now I’m trying to sell one last vehicle and getting ready for my flight back to Kansas City. When I get back I will settle into a new role within Pioneers on a team called Encountering the World of Islam. I will also be reaching out to more churches for chances to share and hopefully replace some of the donors that we’ve lost in the transition. The kids are enjoying their teachers and classes at a Christian school that the Lord provided for us. It really is hard to see what’s next and know what to write about in a newsletter!
For Ezekiel’s science fair project his class did “Habitats.” He chose savannah because that’s what we have in Lohutok. He was pretty proud of it.
This morning I was reading
the Bible and I came to Psalm 13. I was
reading Psalms out loud and this one I just couldn’t get through! I started over again and again and was just
fascinated at the way that King David was saying the same thing that I’ve been
praying for months. Sometimes it’s hard
to go from verse 4 to verse 5 (look it up J
) but we know that in Christ we must! As
I am grieving the reality of leaving my friends and family behind for such a
long time, I’m trying to force myself to meditate on the truth of the
Gospel. No snakes, no stones…only good
gifts from a perfect and loving Father who is in Heaven.
Please pray for us as we make this transition, talk about it with our kids, try to budget while recovering from support loss, learn how to have meaningful Christian relationships with people in the USA again, and work towards healing for future ministry.